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In Depth Look at Lync Online Included With Office 365 Beta: Wow

Lync Online included with Office 365 Beta has a lot impressive new features compared to Microsoft's previous hosted OCS/Lync offering. (BPOS) In this article I'd like to outline what functionailty you can expect to get with Lync Online.

Lync to Lync Presence, IM, Audio, Video & Desktop Sharing...
Lync online allow communciation between mulitple parties so you can have multiparty video, audio or desktop sharing sessions going on.


Public IM Connectivity / MSN Live Capabilities
One of the nice features of Lync Online / Office 365 is that it will connect with Live Messenger users. Configuring this is pretty straight forward. From the main admin page click on "Admin" under Lync Online. Then click on "Public IM" and from here you will be able to enable. (It may take a day to take effect--this is normal.)

After the Status shows Enabled you will be able to add Live Messenger contact by typing them in the search. Below you'll see a audio/video/Instant message call between Lync Online and MSN/Live Messenger contact.


After experiencing that liberating feeling of collaborating with you Live contacts from Lync you might be tempted to try to add your 3rd freind/contact (Lync or Live) into a call/conference (as I did below)--but it won't work. (This is really a limitation of Live Messenger, not Lync Online.)


Features:
-Instant Message
-Audio and Video calls in a 1 to 1 senario

Limitations:
-Appears only 2 parting calls work: no 3party video or audio calls
-Not all emoticons works
-No screen sharing to from Live Messenger contact
-No file transfer

Domain Federation With Other Office 365 Lync Online Users
You can also federate with other Office 365 in a very simple "One Click" setup. Just goto the "Domain Federation" tab and click Enable to get this going. Now you can add contacts from other Office 365 domains and communicate in all modalities.

As you can see on the administration picture above the admin can block certain domains.
Features:
-Very simple setup
-Get very easy access to the whole Office 365 community; great intercompany connections
-Block specific domains
Limiations:-It may take a day to enable.

Lync Online Lync Web App Functionality
With the Lync Web App included with Lync Online you can have people who are not even a named user in Lync (anonymous) join a meeting and enjoy IM, desktop sharing. (audio call requires a partner service to be configured.) As we take a look the first things you'll notice is that the Silverlight, web based client looks very similar to the rich client.


Below is an example of sending a file attatchment using the LWA.

Now lets do something a little more tricky--share our screen from the LWA:


Sharing your screen with the LWA will require a small download the first time you try to share your screen as shown below.


You can select which application you wish to share.


And voila--screen sharing from a web app! It really all is very smooth and easy to do. (its all so very smooth I can see why one twitter user noted "google should be ashamed.")


Features:
-Allow Anonymous users join a conference call (no license required)

Limitations:
-LWA is not a full fledged Lync client, it just allows you to connect to ongoing meetings (full Lync has this same limitation)
-No PC-to-PC voice/audio

Questions:
-Can I get presence and instant message from some web client? Yes, you Outlook Web App.

Outlook Integration Adds Web Based Presence and Instant Message
Functionality inside Outlook Web App makes up a little for what Lync Web App is missing but doesn't entirely bridge the gap.


You can also set your presence from OWA as shown below:

Features
-Will archive IM conversations
-Instant Message and Set Presence

Limitations
-Very basic IM client means no audio, video, files or desktop sharing

Mobility
Currently there is no iPhone, Android or Windows Phone 7 client for Lync Online included with Office 365. (Actually there is no client for these platforms from Microsoft yet.)

My Take
I think that Microsoft is getting the feature list right with Lync Online included with Office 365. Some people will get a look at Lync for the first time--and I expect--wonder why they didn't use it before. Really business UC is being brought to the masses of small and not so small businesses with this offering.

If Microsoft finds a way to deliver Enterprise Voice with Office 365 Lync Online (as it seems poised to in the UK with Jajah partnership?) this may just be the solution to sweeps PBX's in smaller businesses into history.

PS-Tommy Clarke has a great article on "Top 5 Lync Online Problems" you will want to see:
http://www.ultimate-communications.com/2011/04/top-five-lync-online-problems-in-the-forums-the-short-answers-office365-lync/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+UltimateCommunications+%28Ultimate+Communications%29

2 comments:

  1. I am very curious how the Jajah partnership will work out. It would be amazing for the SMB market to no longer have to have an onsite PBX.

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  2. thanks for your comment.

    Now with Microsoft's aquisition of Skype that may change things. I'm hearing rumblings that Skype could be microsoft's gateway to PSTN. We'll all watch and see.

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