Last week Microsoft released an update for the Lync 2013 client. Lync receives a few updates every year, for security patches and the occasional new feature.

This time however, we have not one new feature, but four!

So after implementing it, my boss asked me to test all the new features. Make sure everything’s working. Check for issues. And document it for the blog.

Having spent a few hours doing so yesterday and today, I now have my experience documented. But you’re not just getting a bland list of the new features, no no. This wouldn’t be the awesome blog it is if I did that!

I’m also ranking the new Lync features on usefulness. You’ll have them all when you add the July updates…but which will you use? And how often? That’s what I’ll answer here. Strap in!

The 4 Newest Lync 2013 Features, Ranked for Usefulness

#4 – IM Mute

Running a presentation, and want to keep to the audio/video side only? IM Mute does exactly that – mutes the IM side of the presentation. Participants will not be able to type questions/comments in the IM window. This helps to keep distractions low, so the presenter can focus on giving a clear presentation.

IM Mute Option

Usefulness: Low. While it’s a well-intentioned add-on, I think there’s a flaw in muting IM here. Not in the functionality (that works perfectly); in the motivation. Most webinars I’ve attended will mute the attendees, so they can’t hear chatter over the presenter. Muting IM, along with muted audio, effectively silences the attendees. I know some presentations aren’t intended as discussions, but totally removing the ability can hamper business meetings.

#3 – Embedded Images

IM conversations are fast and useful. Ask a question, answer one, check in and then get back to work. But when you run up against a limitation of IM – say, not being able to show someone an image – the conversation tends to derail.

Embedded Images fixes that, by adding in the ability to put images into your conversations. As simple as copy-and-paste, you can now toss an image into your IM window, and the other person(s) sees it. Just like this!

Embedded Image in IM

Usefulness: Moderate. While being able to stick an image into an IM on the fly IS handy if you need to show something, I don’t think I’ll use it much. Conversations that are detailed enough to involve images often branch into email and file transfer.

#2 – Meetings Menu

Meetings is a new choice available on the Lync client’s top navigation. You can see it her (far right, the pie chart):
Meetings View on Lync 2013
Clicking it brings you to a list of your scheduled meetings. If a meeting is blue, you can join it straight from Lync by clicking “Join”.

Usefulness: High. Having a list of Meetings right in Lync (instead of having to go to Outlook) alleviates some confusion about when the next Lync meeting is scheduled. Joining them only takes a click. And since you also see the day’s Calendar events, you can avoid scheduling conflicts.

#1 – Q&A Manager

Now THIS I like! Q&A Manager creates a space during presentations to ask questions, and receive answers, in a structured manner. All you do is enable Q&A from the Presentations menu…

Q&A Manager Option in Presentations

And a Q&A tab appears for all participants. They ask you a question, you type in an answer, and it’s all displayed in a clean, tiered layout for all to see.

Usefulness: High. Right now this is only available on Lync 2013 Desktop and Lync Web Access. That still covers the majority of Lync meeting users…which means my concern about discussion during presentations up in #4? Taken care of. You could even assign one presenter to give the speech, and another to man the Q&A.

To download the July update for your Lync client (2013 only), click here: Security Update for Microsoft Lync 2013 (KB2817465)
(Make sure your Lync Server is updated too: Updates for Lync Server 2013)

For further reference on the new features, Richard Brynteson’s post on Mastering Lync is a great run-down.

Which of these updates do YOU think you’ll use the most? And how? Comment or email me, and let’s discuss!

Exploring (and Ranking) the New Features in the Lync 2013 July Update

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