Skype for Business User Quick Tip #42: Using Multiple Audio Devices Without Surprises

In general the Skype for Business client supports more than one audio device and handles the multiple devices well, but there are some gotchas that are worth noting to ensure the experience includes no surprises. Two items to be aware of:

  • Users cannot select the audio device for the next call while that call is Ringing from the Skype for Business client.
  • The Skype for Business client will no longer “see” (it will lose call control) a call that is answered using an “Aries” series IP Phone connected to a PC w/Better Together which is not the default/Primary Skype for Business audio device.

We will illustrate where these gotchas might show using the two scenarios described below.


One possible configuration if a user is trying to replicate all the functionality of an IP desk phone (handset & speakerphone) is:

  • Skype for Business client
  • Headset (Default Skype for Business audio device)
  • Speaker phone (Like Jabra Speak 410 or 510)

In this scenario the headset will likely be the default Skype for Business audio device. This means that if the user clicks to accept an incoming audio call toast the audio will be on the headset for this call.

But what happens if Skype for Business client is configured this way and the user receives an incoming call toast and they want to answer using the speaker phone audio device?


  • IF the user presses the Answer button on the Jabra Speak (for example) the call will be answered & the audio will be on the Jabra Speak (all is good!)
  • If the user tries to answer using the Skype for Business client, they will likely get a slightly unexpected experience.
    • If, while the incoming call is ringing, the user tries to change the default Skype for Business audio device (using the “Select Primary Device” at the bottom of the Skype for Business client—shown above) and then answer the call using the Skype for Business client…the audio will be sent to the previously set headset because WHEN SKYPE FOR BUSINESS IS RINGING YOU CANNOT CHANGE THE DEFAULT AUDIO DEVICE. (what the user has just done is change the default Skype for Business audio device FOR THE NEXT CALL.)
    • What the user will now need to do from the Skype for Business client to get the audio to the appropriate device is the following steps:
      • On the Current Conversation window: Call Controls | Devices | “Switch your device”

This scenario is merely to demonstrate that there is no way to select (from the Skype for Business client) which audio device will answer the call while Skype for Business client is ringing. If the audio device has an “Answer” button (in some cases: see below) it will direct the audio to that device.


Another common scenario is a user having a USB headset and an IP phone with Better Together so the user can answer either device:

  • Skype for Business client (w/Integration to some PC level CEBP integration)
  • USB Headset (Default Skype for Business audio device)
  • IP Phone (Polycom CX600 w/Better Together)
    • Polycom VVX w/BTOE

This combination brings another possible confusing scenario. Let’s say generally the user is taking calls using the USB headset. They have a PC integration they depend on that does call pop (Using the Skype for Business client SDK) For a particular call they “fall back” and answer using the Polycom CX600 connected to the PC using USB Better Together instead of the Default/Primary USB headset. The call will “disappear” from the Skype for Business client since the CX600 phone is not the Default/Primary audio device, even though it is connected to the PC via Better Together. (USB or Better Together over Ethernet.)

So to recap:

  • Users cannot select the audio device for the next call while that call is Ringing from the Skype for Business client.
  • The Skype for Business client will no longer “see” (it will lose call control) a call that is answered using an “Aries” series IP Phone connected to a PC w/Better Together which is not the default/Primary Skype for Business audio device.

Enjoy Skype for Business & see you next time!

For a ton more cool User Tips, get the Skype for Business User Tips & Tricks for Anyone Free eBook


See the other Skype for Business User QuickTips (formerly known as Lync)

Mitel to Acquire Polycom: How Will This Affect Microsoft & Skype for Business?


There have been rumblings that Mitel is interested in acquiring Polycom and now that is no longer rumor: Mitel announces a definitive agreement to acquire Polycom in a press release this morning.

Polycom currently is a major partner of Microsoft Skype for Business and Office 365 Cloud PBX. How could this affect this partnership?

  • The press release notes Polycom will be retained as a brand
  • The press release mentions “Deep product integration with Microsoft solutions” as a key customer benefit.

Currently Mitel (previously Aastra) has 1 Skype for Business certified IP phone at and if my memory serves me correct they had 2 at acquisition time. Polycom has 15 for comparison. The highest next vendor in IP phones is AudioCodes/Yealink at 3.


In Skype for business certified meeting room systems Polycom has 14 and the next vendor, SMART, has 6 to give a bit of a sense of the Polycom/Microsoft partnership compared to other vendors.


One observation from a Skype for Business perspective is that in Mitel’s past acquisition of Aastra (which included Lync Phone Edition IP desk phone models) and Prairie Fyre (a Lync Contact Center which Mitel has branded as MiContact) the Skype for Business (Lync) assets did not seem to maintain as high visibility in the Skype for Business eco system.

Polycom is far stronger in the Microsoft/Skype for Business eco system than either Aastra or Prairie Fyre. Polycom is Microsoft’s strongest IP desk phone and video partner at this time and recently has done, and is continuing to do, a lot of aggressive work at making their devices integrated with Skype for Business & Office 365 Cloud PBX. In Mitel’s “key customer benefits” calls out “Deep product integration with Microsoft solutions” as a value which Mitel wants to bring this value to their portfolio.

How will this affect Microsoft & Skype for Business? I would like to hear your opinions.

Skype for Business CCE–Cloud Connect Edition Has Been Released

Microsoft wants you to be able to use Office 365 Cloud PBX even if you still want to use your existing PSTN connections and the solution is a suite of virtual machines that enable a PSTN gateway on your premise.

In the past we have helped various customers that wanted a small Skype for Business (Lync) implementation and even wrote Technet article that dealt with the issues of small implementations. Interestingly the CCE is attempting to address a somewhat similar scenario and a somewhat different way: Have the Skype for Business Cloud PBX workload being handled by Office 365 Cloud PBX and a lite suite of VMs that essentially enable a gateway to connect to Office 365.

A question that might come up for very small sites: Why not use the VM’s to run Skype for Business Server itself ? Here are some reasons I think of immediately:

  • Office 365 Cloud PBX also includes the Voicemail workload (which would be another server in Exchange UM if doing on premises setup)
  • No need for an onsite SharePoint Server for hosting PowerPoint for meetings
  • Ability to do Skype for Business Broadcast Meetings
  • Get Office 365 resiliency you likely won’t have on a small Skype for Business Server setup

Go get it!


Plan for Skype4B CCE:

Using SEFAUTIL Server


NOTE: SEFAUTIL Server is being released as BETA. Our main reason for this is to get feedback on PowerShell commandlet format before the community write scripts against the existing commandlets. To give feedback on SEFAUTIL Server please join the Community Yammer forum: Click Here

To see the new PowerShell commands that come with SEFAUTIL Server run:

get-command –Module SefautilServerPowershell






Community versus Enterprise Edition



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Cisco Spark Review by a Skype for Business MVP

I thought I would take a quick look at Cisco Spark and see how it compares to Skype for Business (just because that is the tool I live in). From my short time testing it this is what it appears to do well:

  • Instant Message
  • Video Calls
  • Screen Sharing (but not give control)
  • Upload files
  • Persistent Rooms that can be quickly Searched

Some things that seemed “missing” (from my Skype for Business perspective)

  • No presence (or way to see if another user is there)
  • No ability to initiate a Screen Share without first making a video call then muting the video call
  • No ability to initiate an audio call without first making a video call then muting video portion
  • No ability to give control to another user of a screen share session
  • No ability to mute others in a call
  • No ability to add PSTN/phone users to a collab session (room) (update: this is apparently slated as a future feature)

Some cool things

  • The ability to delete a message (IM)
  • If you add a user to a room that is not currently a Cisco Spark user they will get an email to sign up as a Cisco Spark user (but no Guest meeting join experience that I could see)

Now to explain the experience a bit. Instead of starting with a contact list, Cisco Spark is designed around the “Rooms” paradigm. These are (in Skype for Business parlance) akin to a persistent chat.


Searches can quickly be done and the results will returned categorized in People, Rooms, & Messages.

2016-03-07 20_52_01-Start

The 3 ways you can directly collaborate (without an intermediate step) is Message (1), Attachment (2) and Video Call (3).  There doesn’t seem to be a way to start an audio call or screen share without first starting a video. (I could see some users complaining about this.)


After a user has a video going, then more collaboration methods become available: Desktop sharing and audio call. Desktop sharing (1) is just a single click. There is no ability to give control to the remote party. The CiscoSpark app for Android shows the Screen Share but there didn't seem to be pinch zoom and naturally a full screen is quite small)

Having just an audio call (2) seems quite counterintuitive: you establish a video call then mute the video. (There is very much a push to use video!)


It should be noted that video calls, audio calls and screen sharing sessions are not saved for future reviewing. Considering the paradigm is around persistent I could easily see how a user might think these collaborative interactions would be saved. (from a technical standpoint I can understand why media recordings are not done)

As noted above, messages can even be deleted.

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Taking a look at settings, you’ll notice a very simple and straightforward screen.


A couple things I noticed on my first tryout, I don’t know if they are just my experience but I’ll list the items:

  • Using the web browser version of Cisco Spark Instant Messages failed to send between accounts when I initially tested  (I’ve been notified this was due to large initial influx of users: click here)
  • On my Surface Pro the Windows app seemed to crashed quite frequently (i think it is a bug around finding a room you exited perhaps?)

2016-03-07 20_23_47-Microsoft Edge

  • The Android CiscoSpark app also crashed a time or two while I was testing.
  • The web version requires FireFox for media
  • It is interesting that the @CiscoSpark Twitter account is protected (not public)


Cisco Spark feels like a cross between Skype for Business and Office 365 Groups/Yammer (sans the calendar) which gives a persistent collaborative experience. It doesn’t seem quite as targeted and adept at quick in and out conversations and that quick audio call. It  gives quite a bit of collaborative functionality for free, but it doesn’t seem like it would be a great option for inviting anonymous guests for a quick meeting join experience. The users are going to get the feeling they are being ramrod forced into video calls, but on the flip side Cisco is likely going to focus on making video a good experience when bandwidth is available. (in my tests the videos kept failing, and I wrote it up to the lack of mobile data bandwidth where I was at, but this graphically illustrates that its just not available everywhere) My experience felt like a version 1 experience, a few bugs, a few load hiccups, but then again, I checked the About screen and it is a Version 1.x product.