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Some Thots on Skype & Federation: Becoming A Multi-Protocol Client, How Many Users Ready by June? & Will Lync Federation Be Powered By “WLM”?

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I think the value of both Microsoft Lync and Skype have been dramatically increased by allowing connectivity between the two. I suspect other enterprise UC vendors would love to have this capability. In many ways Microsoft is doing in the real world in substantial numbers, what webRTC advocates hope to do some time in the future.

As I’ve been looking over technical information related to Lync / Skype federation & connectivity several things emerged :

  • Skype is becoming a kind of multi-protocol IM/Voice/Video Client (much Like Pidgin?)
  • It would appear that Skype to Lync federation could be powered behind the scenes by components of what used to be marketed as “Windows Live Messenger”
  • Microsoft Account requirement to federate/provide connectivity Skype to Lync will mean less than all Skyper users will likely be “ready to federate” by June 2013, so those planning solutions website Skype to Lync click-to-dial strategies will want take this into consideration
  • For those not Live Messenger PIC Enabled, you can configure it now, so you are ready-to-roll when Skype connectivity is released mid-year (June 2013)

We’ll go over these points in detail below.

Skype Is Becoming a Multi-Protocol Communication Client

Skype is becoming a multi-protocol IM/Voice/Video communication client that is providing connectivity to various back end solutions/accounts. Skype for Windows version 6.2 is providing connectivity to:

    • Skype
    • Live Messenger
    • Facebook Chat
    • Plus Microsoft Lync on Premise and Lync Online (June 2013)

ARS Technica notes: “the Skype client now connects to both Skype and Messenger networks (and Facebook too), the networks are at present still separate, and there's no bridging between the two.”

Below is the Skype 2.6 Profile screen showing the various accounts being used by this Skype client.

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Below is the Account management page:

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What needs to be understood about this multi-protocol method of connecting to various services (Skype, Microsoft Account/Live Messenger, Facebook) is that both endpoints need to have shared accounts in the service to chat. For example: a Skype user (with only a Skype account setup in/associated with Skype) will not be able to chat with a Facebook user. Likewise, a Skype user will not be able to communicate to Messenger users, unless they have a Microsoft/Live Messenger Account.

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Will Skype to Lync Connectivity Be Powered By Components of What Used to Be “Windows Live Messenger”? (specifically MSNP)

[NOTE: I have no inside information and there are some guesses in this section, I will highlight them so guess-work is clear from documented work.]

In the previous section we noted that typically you need shared accounts to communicate together. (you have a Facebook account associated with Skype to communicate with Facebook users, a Live Messenger account to communicate to Live Messenger users, etc) But in the case of Microsoft Lync federation you need a Microsoft Account (or a Live Messenger account) associated with a Skype user. Because of the below items I have been guessing that components of Microsoft Live Messenger network are being used to federate Skype and Lync:

  • Existing Skype users need to merge their Live Messenger account before communicating to Lync users
  • New Skype users need to associate a MSA (Microsoft Account) with their new Skype account
  • New Skype/Lync connectivity functionality seems to be tied to new Skype client releases, indicating that much of the “magic” is in the client?
  • On the Lync Server side all that needs to be done have PIC to Live Messenger configured & working and this enables Lync <-> Skype federation. (How to Enable  WLM PC)
  • At the moment communication coming from Skype to Lync indicates JUST as if it was coming from Live Messenger
  • Your Skype ID doesn’t show up anywhere in Lync, You cannot search for Skype ID’s, just Live Messenger/Microsoft Accounts
  • Lync Contact relationships established in WLM will pass to & live on in Skype client

Below is what a Skype to Lync Instant Message federation looks like at the moment. (from Lync perspective) Microsoft has noted they will change the current Live Messenger icon/indicator to Skype indicator when Skype <-> Lync connectivity is released/completed.

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While we have been guessing for some time that components of WLM network were being used, the presenters at Lync Conference took away our doubt by noting that the Skype <-> Lync federation would use a MSNP gateways to handle IM/P traffic to Lync. (MSNP is the protocol that delivers IM/P for WLM) A separate audio gateway will deliver voice to Lync. Does this mean Skype is merely using a MSNP gateway? Or are Live Messenger users largely continuing life as usual inside Skype? (I would lean toward the latter by my observations <—Note: this is a guess. The way to test this theory is to see if WLM communication to Lync capability goes away when Skype  <-> Lync is officially implemented.) UPDATE 5/29/2013: It is verified that WLM communication is indicated as Skype communication now the Skype <-> Lync is officially live, which appears to verify above hunch. Click Here for more details.

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We might ask: but wasn’t “Windows Live Messenger” “going away? As brand yes, as infrastructure, not necessarily. How do we know this? ARS Technica article on November 6, 2012 notes very carefully “that the Windows Live Messenger brand and client will be retired”. The article also notes that China will retain “Live Messenger” naming. (Microsoft’s wording does not make clear if the WLM client itself will survive, or just the WLM brand. It would seem that if they are not continuing to use the WLM client they would move branding to Skype though.) The same ARS article notes that while the branding is moving to Skype “Behind the scenes, the migration has been underway for some time—in the opposite direction”. Mary Jo Foley notes: “the [Skype] instant messaging back-end now uses a mix of Messenger's infrastructure and Azure cloud services”

Below: Skype <-> Lync Modalities Supported

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Microsoft Account Requirement to Federate Skype to Lync Means Less Than All Skype Users Will Likely Be Available for Federation When Connectivity Goes Live

While there are 280million connected skype users, all these users need to voluntarily associate either a Live Messenger or Microsoft Account to their Skype accoun before Skype <-> Lync will work. This means two things:

  • 280Million Skype users will not likely be ready on day one of Skype <-> Lync Federation
  • Those planning Skype click-to-call scenarios into Lync Call Centers need to be aware that not all Skype users may be enabled to do this and will need to make this exception a part of their calling plan

Below: Skype stats indicating 280m connected Skype users.

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Below: All Skype Users Will Need to Update Skype Client & Sign-In With Microsoft Account

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Get Your Live Messenger/Skype PIC Enabled So You Are Ready for Lync <-> Skype Federation

Here are my Lync Server 2010 PIC enable steps.

Here are my Lync Server 2013 step to enable Live Messenger PIC.

Conclusion

As an early promoter of federation awareness, (via the ongoing Lync Federation Directory Project) I am hugely interested in this massive enabling of B2X (as Microsoft is calling it). This is the first time that federation between a massive consumer base and a widely deployed enterprise UC solution has be enabled with this little friction. With this new connectivity Lync Server 2013 now connects to Skype, Office365, Gmail and more solutions—Out of the box!

It will certainly be interesting to see what emerges from this.

Sources/Notes:

http://blogs.technet.com/b/lync/archive/2013/02/28/lync-skype-connectivity-arriving-by-june-2013.aspx

http://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2012/11/microsoft-to-kill-off-the-messenger-client-and-regroup-under-the-skype-brand/

http://www.zdnet.com/microsofts-skype-for-windows-8-to-launch-october-26-7000006145/

http://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2012/11/microsoft-to-kill-off-the-messenger-client-and-regroup-under-the-skype-brand/

Grieg’s Blog Details About Lync to Skype Federation:
https://greiginsydney.com/federating-skype-and-lync/

What is the Licensing Cost for Lync Skype Federation? It is Included in Lync Standard CAL

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According to Blake Shepard, Senior Business Planner Lync, Lync-Skype connectivity is included in the normal Lync Standard CAL.

“What Lync licenses are required for Skype Connectivity? Skype Connectivity is licensed as part of Lync Standard CAL, Lync Online Plan 1, Lync Online Plan 2, or Lync Online Plan 3.”

Technically you will need to setup Live Messenger PIC. Here is How:
http://windowspbx.blogspot.com/2011/09/6-steps-to-getting-your-lync-server.html

Source:
http://blogs.technet.com/b/lync/archive/2013/02/28/lync-skype-connectivity-arriving-by-june-2013.aspx

Lync Server 2013 February 2013 Cumulative Update Here: VoIP Mobile Backend, Group Call Pickup, Location Based Routing, More…

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What is in the Feb 2013 CU/CU1 update?
Related Tools Released Today
Some Great Feedback On Updating to Feb 2013 CU/CU1:

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Note about Edge

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Where to Get It?

Download the Update Here:
http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=36820

Update Description Here:
http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2809243

Step By Step How to Install (via Joost Geljisteen)

http://www.gelijsteen.com/?p=532

Other Feb 2013 CU/CU1 Update Blogs:

Tommy Clarke: Read This Before Update: Click Here
Justin Morris: Click Here
Stale Hansen: Click Here

Polycom Announces VVX 300/VVX400 IP DeskPhone: Adding Buttons to UC Experience

Polycom has just announced the VVX3xx and VVX4xx series IP phones along with exapansion modules.

I was able to look at and chat with Polycom representatives about this new series at Lync Conference 2013. Polycom representatives noted they plan to have this series interop with Microsoft Lync like the VVX500 series. I would note that this handset series squarely addresses many of the needs I have been pointed out with my article “Challenges & Solutions Using Lync Phone Edition in Voice Scenarios” and my “Lync Phone Edition ‘Bridge’ Series Concept Device”. Other manufacturers that have already addressed this market need are snom with their Lync Qualified 7xx series and Audiocodes with their just announced, but not yet Lync Qualified, 4xxHD series.

What did Polycom representatives tell me about VVX3xx and 4xx?

  • there are plans to make this device interop with Lync
  • note buttons can indication Lync contact presence
  • note buttons can be configured by merely add Lync Contacts via Lync client to your favorites

What does the press release note about the VVX3xx/4xx?

  • 3xx has 6 buttons and 4xx has 12 buttons
  • Each button has Green/Red LED capability
  • There will be a VVX expansion module with Color 28uttons x 3pages or Non-Color with 40buttons
  • The 310 and 410 models offer gigabit.
  • All models can connect to Exchange and Join conference from phone. (Source: Click)
  • All models can have Expansion Modules connected.
  • Expansion Module Power and Signaling come from phone.
  • the 3xx & 4xx series DO NOT support Video (Source: Click)
  • the 3xx & 4xx series DO NOT support USB headset like VVX500
  • the 3xx & 4xx series DO NOT have touch screen like VVX500

Photos of VVX 300

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Color Expansion Module

The already Lync Qualified VVX500 (the new 3xx & 4xx are NOT Lync Qualified at this time) has been review by me below:
My First Impression Video Review Using VVX500 with Lync: Click Here
Polycom VVX500 Native USB/Bluetooth Headset Support: Click Here for Video Demo

Photo of VVX400:
https://twitter.com/Polycom/status/306811350536028160/photo/1

Press Release and More Details:
http://www.polycom.com/company/news/press-releases/2013/20130227.html

Complete VVX Series
http://www.polycom.com/products-services/voice/desktop-solutions/realpresence-desktop-vvx-business-media-phones.html

Could UC Video Usage Growth Come From Unexpected Scenario? Virtual Camaraderie

Lately Marissa Mayer’s CEO of Yahoo has been in the news quite a bit because of her controversial request that Yahoo employee’s return to the office. Whether you are a UC professional that thinks this is horrific or an entrepreneur that see this as great move to cure a corporate culture gone astray, it does put the spotlight on remote workers and how they interface with others.

Many UC and related vendors are eager to see video as “the new voice”, but I have wondered aloud if video will actually get the traction because of several inhibitors:

  • The freedom of “not being seen” can actually be thought of as a feature?
  • many seem to be replacing Voice with text messaging, not video?
  • the high “social cost” of face to face video?
  • some note that they expand the content over the video for business meetings that are not of a “high-stakes” nature
  • even at UC shops, users seem need to need to be asked to start video: if people crave video, wouldn’t they naturally start it?
  • both sides need to decide to start it, and there seems to be a extra pause not present with a voice call.

This article is not a anti-video, but thinking aloud if possibly the largest amount of video in the future will not replace voice, but actually come from an untapped new type of scenario: Virtual Camaraderie. (a term coined, I think, by Scott Hanselman) Currently when we think of UC video we think of someone starring intently right at us (or up above us ;-) but could many more video minutes come from creating virtual camaraderie scenarios with separated teams?

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Think about your actual in person interactions when you work with someone in person. You don’t see there starring at each other---you sit along side. In this model no one needs to be continuously talking or even think about being looked at. This is the kind of vantage point where camaraderie, brainstorming and mentoring can occur naturally during the course of the day. It’s interesting to hear stories of when  IT pro’s started out, with their desk near a mentor—learning, overhearing great work on problems etc, learning by just being around. Could this be recreated virtually?

There is likely few people that are familiar with remote working and can communicate the challenges as Scott Hanselman. He has written a great article on the challenges and benefits of the remote worker that got me thinking once again about his interesting Microsoft Lync project that enables Lync (a concept that could work with any UC/video calling solution) to provide virtual camaraderie (virtual cube buddy?, VC2? Video Buddy? Video Mentor? Video Office Group?) by having a 2nd video camera from the vantage point of a desk nearby rather than staring into the camera. So your video call buddy is more like “with you in the next cube” providing casual, ambience like interaction instead “you have my full attention” expected in a normal video call.

Perhaps UC vendors need to build “Virtual camaraderie” (VC?) functionality into their products? Below are a couple components I would think about:

  • Users would need 2 video cameras: one standard video call & one VC camera
  • Perhaps a second USB monitor that can be place beside you along with that 2nd cam
  • audio for VC session set to “like 1 cube over”?
  • Users Ability to Call their VC camera (separate from calling them normally)
    • in lync this could be like calling their mobile? or private line? or another modality?
  • Control’s around who can call your VC
  • your VC would automatically answer authorized “buddies”
  • when in a VC “call” (session?) presence not set to busy
  • When you make a call it does not necessarily put the VC session on hold
  • and likely more pieces I didn’t think about

Indeed, perhaps BYOD will beat UC vendors to this? Just buy a $150USD Android tablet, install Lync 2013 Mobile, setup UserName_VirtualOffice in Lync and have people call that with their own VirtualOffice user?

If you want to see Scott’s VC setup using Microsoft Lync and Logitech BCC950:
http://www.hanselman.com/blog/VirtualCamaraderieAPersistentVideoPortalForTheRemoteWorker.aspx

And maybe Yahoo just needs a little “virtual camaraderie”? Maybe all virtual teams do? What do you think?

 

Other notes:
Other names for the scenario: virtual cube, virtual cube buddy? vcube?

#Skype to Lync Voice #Federation Seems to Have Started Working for Some

NOTE: We are hearing feedback from users that if you have Lync Server 2013 with Live Messenger PIC enabled and the Skype user has Skype for PC Version 6.2 audio calls should work.

On November 19, 2011 it was noted (see blog/how-to) that Skype to Lync federation seemed to start working at the IM & presence level after users updated to latest version of the Skype application and merged their Live Messenger ID into Skype using the latest Skype client.

At Lync Conference it was announced that indeed, merging LiveMessenger/Microsoft Account and a new version of Skype will be the actions that enable Lync <-> Skype federation. (blogger Greig Sheridan has done a good job of listing the requirements to get Lync <-> Skype federation working here: Click Here) Also noted was that Lync <-> Skype federation IM, Presence & Voice would be here around June 2013 ETA/timeframe. It appears that while no announcements have been made, Lync <-> Skype Voice federation has started to work for some and at various levels for others. See @shawnharry note below.

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@voipnorm has it working both ways with Lync 2013

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@MichaelVerso Notes it works one-way for him:

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At the moment my experience has been that I can make one audio call from Lync (Skype PC version 6.1.x) –> Skype (Skype Android 3.1.0.6458)  and audio flows, but after hanging up I can’t make another call. Also, I’m noticing that the incoming call notification to Skype indicates “unknown caller”.  It is interesting to note that in the Skype call history the call is listed as “undisclosed_pstn:xxx”. I don’t think this necessarily means Skype is using pstn to deliver the call: it may just be a generic message if caller ID is note received correctly?

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So, to summarize: Microsoft has not announced Lync <-> Skype voice federation to be ready at this time, so don’t expect it to work. But it does look like it is working for some, so if it does for you: Enjoy.  Also, it appears Microsoft is making progress towards their mid-year ETA release goal.

New Communication Endpoint Form Factor Makes a Windows 8 Pro Powered Mobile Your PC, IP DeskPhone & Mobile Phone: i-Mate Intelegent

 

via Seattle Times

According to Brier Dudley of the Seattle Time, I-Mate is set to introduce a Windows 8 Pro power mobile device and MWC.

This interesting device brings the possibility that BYOD could actually be a PC. While at first blush glance this device might seem far fetched, it does bring some interesting benefits if the experience can be made to work.

Some interesting Hardware Specs

  • Atom “Clover Trail” Processor
  • 2GB RAM
  • 64GB Storage
  • Windows 8 Pro
  • 4.7” screen
  • HSPA+ & LTE 4G
  • 10 Hours talk time
  • “Hub” that converts mobile device into IP Deskphone
  • Price $750 for Mobile Only; $1600 w/Hub, 23” Touch Screen, 10.1” Tablet.

Some Interesting Possibilities

  • Could take the place of Mobile phone, PC, IP deskphone (and tablet?)
  • Eliminates need to boot PC or move calls from mobile to IP Phone per say.
  • Power savings?
  • Run full Windows 8 App---On your mobile phone
  • Run Full Lync 2013 Windows Store App

Some challenges that would come to mind:

  • a good mobile experience is more than throwing a softphone on Windows8
  • Is Windows 8 Pro UI optimized for use as a phone?
  • Will Atom be enough power for PC?

Read the entire Seattle Times article here.

Source: Seattle Times

i-Mate Website? Click Here

Damaka’s Lync Client Xavy is Now Free and Available for #iOS, #Android, #Linux and Windows RT #LyncConf13

 

I have been following Damaka for some time so was glad to meet Ragu and Sandeep and get to ask them some question about their Lync/OCS mobile client Xavy. Below is the video interview and my summary of our discussion.

The Lync/OCS Mobile Client Now Available for free on applicable mobile marketplaces. Damaka is moving Xavy to freemium model so you can get a copy for free on the marketplace and only pay if you want support and to roll it out in quantities to your corporate users.

Unlike the new Lync Mobile 2013 client, Xavy works on:

  • OCS
  • Lync Server 2010

Versions for the below mobile platforms:

  • Android
  • iPhone
  • iPad

Xavy is also available for the below PC platforms:

  • Windows RT
  • Linux
  • Mac

It was also pointed out that Xavy allows IT to remotely control iPad devices, effectively allowing IT to support iOS apps.

Xavy has been working on quality and going through interop testing, but your best bet is to test it yourself before sizeable rollout. If you want to see my latest tests of Xavy, click Here.

Microsoft Lync 2013 Windows Store App Gets Feb 2012 Update

As if to underscore Microsoft’s commitment to faster iteration, the Lync 2013 Windows Store App received an update just after Lync Conference 2013 ended.

I was presented with this screen on first startup (which I think is new)

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Appears to have a new Search” icon. I suspect to visually help people not familiar with Windows 8 “Search” charm?

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Seems the Contacts/History/VoiceMail buttons were removed from the right click menu

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a new one-click Mute and Hangup button during call. (thanks)

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the scribble feature has been added to the client. Just tap the input icon to the right of the IM field to switch to scribble mode

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Now scribble away.

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Another big improvement to the client is the “BACK” button on most screens (see on 3 screenshots above) that allows you to go back to main Lync screen without 2 clicks. Great!

Known Issues That Seem to Remain

  • Windows 8 RT Call Control by USB/Bluetooth Headsets does not work
  • Windows RT tapping on Contact Group takes inordinately long to expand

Suggestions to Microsoft

  • The Windows Store screenshots are outofdate now
  • During a voice call, add a single-tap Hold button as well

If there is any other changes you notice, would be glad to hear them. Also, is there a list somewhere of improvements?

UPDATED 3/4/2013: Microsoft blog has now released an article with a few details I missed:
http://blogs.technet.com/b/lync/archive/2013/03/04/here-s-how-we-ve-improved-the-windows-store-lync-app.aspx

Tipped By: @lyncdialog

Group Call Pickup Coming to Lync Server 2013 in CU1 Update: Here’s How It Will Work

Roy Kuntz noted in his Lync Conference 2013 “Deploying Voice” session today that Lync Server 2013 will get Group Call Pickup functionality as part of CU1 update. Since this is one of the top requested features on http://lync.ideascale.com this is very welcome news.

I caught up with Roy in the Lync Conference Lounge afterwards and we chatted about the details of how Group Call Pickup will work in more detail. Below are some of my notes: (note: I didn’t test or see the feature, so I’m going on what I’m told here)

  • Setup
    • Call Park Ranges will be used to define Group Call Pickup. Admins can check a flag when setting up a Call Park Range and then the range will be used for Group Call Pickup instead of a Call Park.
    • Lync Management Shell is used to create groups and add/delete/move users. (source: MicrosoftUC Blog)
    • A new version of the SEFAutil is used to assign users to the groups. (source: MicrosoftUC Blog)
    • Detailed Setup Steps: Click Here
  • How To Use
    • When a phone is ringing, dial the Park/Group Call Pickup number assigned to that extension to pick it up.
    • The original ringing user will get a missed call notification from Exchange UM. (source: MicrosoftUC Blog)
  • How Group Call Pickup (GCP) Works Behind the Scenes
    • An incoming call going to a user that is part of a GCP will ring the user and simultaneously be automatically placed in a Call Park.
  • Various Notes:
    • More than one Group Call Pickup per FE Pool can be defined
    • SEFAUTIL will be used to administrate the Group Call Pickup
    • If an extension is assigned to a Group Call Pickup, anyone will be able to pick it up as there is no authorization needed to pick it up.
    • All users need to be homed on a Lync Server 2013 with CU1 applied to use GCP feature. (source: MicrosoftUC Blog)
    • Feature noted to work with Lync 2010, Lync 2013 & Lync Phone Edition (really should work with any endpoint)
    • This feature is designed to work in scenarios where a user can *hear* the other phone ringing. The reason for this is that Lync has no concept of “Ringing” presence state that users can see. (I have argued for the need for such a state for dynamic/fluid/fast-paced voice scenarios, but at this time there Lync does not have one)

Session Slide Screenshots: Architecture

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Planning Slide

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What If I Don’t Have Lync Server 2013?

While you need Lync Server 2013 with the coming CU1 to get this feature as part of Lync, there are 3rd party products that bring this feature to Lync Server 2010. I would suggest looking closely at Cerebro from Colima. For video of these 3rd party call pickup options see: http://windowspbx.blogspot.com/2012/04/lync-call-pickup-feature-provided-by.html

Other Sources:
http://blogs.technet.com/b/cs2010/archive/2013/02/22/call-pickup-in-lync-2013-cu1.aspx

AudioCodes Brings My “Crazy” Concept Lync Phone to Life in Form of AudioCodes 400HD

Remember my concept LPE Device? (see complete blog article here) Appears like Audiocodes has decided to bring it to life in the form of the newly Lync Qualified Audiocodes 400HD Series.

While it may not have every last feature I noted, it is eerily close.

crazy idea for lpe

Below Alan Percy gives me some details from the #LyncConf13 floor:

Microsoft Lync Mobile 2013: Everything You Wanted to Know

Microsoft has publicly demo’d their highly anticipated Lync Mobile 2013 client that does voice and video over IP. Below is an overview of what we heard about the new mobile clients.

Here is my 5minutes with Nokia 920 with the Lync 2013 Mobile client:

 

What Mobiles O/S’s Will Get Love?

clients

What Features Will Each Client Have?

2013features2

General Features

Below

2013features1

Who Will Get Call Via Work?

Exactly Who You would have expected.

2013features3

What Video Codecs Supported on Lync 2013 Mobile?

Some ScreenShots of Lync 2013 Mobile:

What video will look like on iPhone:

SnapView of Windows Store App During a Meeting

Visual Voicemail will be on all platforms. this is a poor, but the only screenshot I have:

 

Some Things you might NOT have expected:
  • the iPhone version will NOT use Push Notifications but the same method as Android due to Apple Push not being reliable enough
  • Ability to control if WIFI Required for VoIP
  • Visual Voicemail and CallBack Method of Voicemail retrieval
What Will Be Included? and Not Included (from Q&A After a session at #Lyncconf13)
  • Visual Voice on all platforms (included)
  • Conversation History (not included)
  • Collab for mobile phone platforms is not included but “on the roadmap”
  • Adding Contacts is not included but “on the roadmap”
  • Call via Work Will Be Supported Along with VoIP (included)
  • Call Transfer is not included but “on the roadmap”
  • Will NOT include handover between different networks (WIFI to 4G for example) (Source: click here)
When Will the Client Arrive?

The simple story:

  • WindowsPhone and iPhone Q1 2013
  • Android Q2 @2013

But see more below

when

Tweeting Live from Lync Conference 2013

Microsoft Lync Conference 2013 - Google Chrome_2013-02-16_22-01-56

If you were not able to make it to Lync Conference 2013: I’m sorry to hear that! But I will try to do my job and bring you any announcements/cool new products/vendor product & interview videos via twitter so follow/watch https://twitter.com/matthewlandis or follow hashtag #lyncconf

Here are My Key Takeaways of Lync Conference 2013
  • Microsoft the first Enterprise communication vendor to have massive presence and connectivity from the Enterprise to Consumer: Living Room to Boardroom and B2X are terms Microsoft is using to talk about this developement
  • Microsoft has invested heavily to get a full featured Lync Mobile client, with feature parity, on all major mobile platforms: BYOD fully embraced and no fear that it will be Microsoft mobile centric
  • Microsoft is fully committed to Lync Server, demonstrated by announcing Lync Server 2014 in beginning of 2014. (no plans to rebrand it to Skype Server. Ent. and Consumer marketing will be intentionally preserved)
  • Now that Lync is in Skype division expect Faster Release Cycles: Already demonstrated by several things: iteration via apps stores, CU including much more than fixes, and next Lync Server version announced for 2014
  • Cisco and Avaya see Microsoft Lync + Skype as a major threat to their business as evidenced by blogs during conference (links below)
More Lync Conference 2013 Recaps
TakeAways: Monday 2/18
  • Polycom HDX 4500 is the first industry video end point qualified for Lync: Click Here
  • snom 7xx Series Now Lync 2013 Certified: Click Here
  • Audiocodes is planning to Lync Qualified there HD Series IP phones: Click Here
  • If you want to watch the Lync Conference Keynotes, please see the following URL: Click Here
  • If you are here at the Lync Conference, make SURE you give your biz card to any of the UCArchitects podcast guys with the black tee-shirts. They have 67 Lync goodies to give away (like IP phones, headsets and more)
TakeAways: Tuesday 2/19
  • A Lot of Details About Lync Mobile 2013: Click Here
  • Lync Room Systems: Native Lync software for Room Systems Makes Some Interesting Devices: Click Here
  • Surprise: The venerable Lync Rountable will Get Gen2 Revision (not many details)
TakeAways: Wednesday 2/20
TakeAways: Thursday 2/21
  • Lync’s UCWA API (thinks webRTC-like app enabler) Website coming at CU1: http://ucwa.lync.com/
  • Lync Server 2013 CU1 to be much more than CU, It will include substantial features: Location Routing, Group Call Pickup, Mobile VoIP clients, more…
Interesting Facts From Lync Conference 2013
  • 2,000 Twitter Mentions of #LyncConf13 on Tues Alone
  • Former President Jimmy Carter shared the Del Coronado With Conference Attendees: Click Here
My LyncConf13 Photo Book

Below is my photo stream for Lync Conference (or click here for slideshow):

Other UC Vendors Respond to Lync Conference 2013

Cisco’s Lync Blogpost:
http://blogs.cisco.com/news/what-really-matters-in-collaboration/

Avaya’s Lync Blogpost:
http://www.avaya.com/blogs/archives/2013/02/freeish-aint-freeish-the-true-cost-of-microsoft-lync.html

Get To Know Me & Some Tips on Lync Voice in Interview on NexHop by Fellow MVP Justin Morris

 

justinmorris-and-mattlandis

Justin Morris has taken time out of his busy schedule to do an interview of me for his “Interview with a Lync Pro” Series on the Microsoft Lync team’s NexHop site. If you can’t get to the Lync Conference, this is a way to get a little peak into my life and background with Microsoft Lync. But even better, let’s chat at Lync Conference!

Click Below for the Interview:
http://blogs.technet.com/b/nexthop/archive/2013/02/13/interview-with-a-lync-pro-matt-landis.aspx

Justin Morris’ Excellent Lync Blog:
http://www.justin-morris.net/

Microsoft Lync 2013 Client Gets February 2013 Update: Most Requested Feature, Hide Offline Contacts Included!

 

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This update includes quite a few fixes including the most requested feature over at http://lync.ideascale.com/: Hide Offline Contacts, which had 69 votes!

Enhancements Noted in KB 2812461

  • Enables users to hide offline contacts in the contact list.
  • Enables users to receive buddy invites from untrusted networks.Note This option is available under Alerts in Lync Options.
  • Improves the support for high dots per inch (DPI) displays, for Microsoft Narrator, and for other accessibility features.
  • Fixes bugs that are related to Location sharing and settings.
  • Fixes bugs that are related to Tabbed Conversations.
  • Enables participants to join online meetings by dialing out to their telephone number if online meetings are scheduled by a non-audio-enabled Lync 2013 user.
  • Improves the handling of devices that have both a front-facing and rear-facing camera.
  • Improves the user experience when you join a Lync meeting in a Lync Room System-enabled room.

Enhancements and Bugs Not Listed in KB

  • When hovering over a Contact Group, there is a new Bullet that clearly highlights the group
  • The Conversation tab is now populated from Exchange!
  • The Phone tab VoiceMail now populated!

Show Offline, Away and Unknown Presence Contacts in a Separate Group (below)

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New Group Hover Indicator

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Conversation History Now Populated from Exchange

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Why are there TWO files to update Lync?

There are 2 files involved in update 15.0.4454.1506 and you need to run both updates. The MSORES file contains icons/images and will not normally need to be updated. The LYNCLOC file is the actual Lync update.

Download the Lync and MSOffice update files here: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2812461

Xavy Updated to 6.30.011713.1: Mobile Lync VoIP Client for #Lync Becoming Stable? (#Android #iPhone)

Xavy has continued to release new versions of their Android/Ios VoIP Lync in what has become a litany of “upgrade & test if it works yet” for those hoping for a full-featured mobile VoIP client for Lync.

In this last version of Xavy, I went through my quick battery of tests (make a EV call, call a Lync contact, video call) and…surprise…the basic feature test actually succeeded on my low end Android device. This means Damaka is making progress and means we can get on to test real-life scenarios like

  • How will Xavy consume power?
  • Will Xavy continue to run in the background gracefully?
  • How will Xavy handle moving from different data networks? (wifi to 3G/4G for example)
  • How will audio devices work with Xavy? (built in phone mic/speaker, blue tooth devices, etc)

Some might ask: Why does Xavy even matter if Lync 2013 Mobile client with VoIP support will soon be out? Below are some reason Xavy is still relevant:

  • Lync 2010 and OCS are still without a VoIP client, since Lync 2013 depends on Lync Server 2013 components.
  • The nearest thing to having a full Lync client on a mobile device at this point

Now that basic functions work we can start looking at usability, what did we notice in this last version of Xavy (for Android in my tests) 

Issues That I still See:

  • I believe I’m seeing some work on UI: transitions
  • Contact Photos sometimes wrong in contact list but correct in contact card
  • contact list seems very slow on updating presence at times
  • Doesn’t seem to be a way to setup to use phone ear piece so you will need a bluetooth headset to use this client
  • Listening to Voicemail gets stuck on “Fetching…”
  • If you change from WIFI to Mobile Data Xavy goes (sometime goes into a hung state with UI garbled. (a restart of Xavy will fix it) and sometimes just logs out. Not graceful.

Below is a quick video of this latest version:

In summary: Not quite a rock solid client yet, but….It’s getting there.

[NEWS] So, #Oracle Wants a Piece of the Hot UC Market? Buys Acme Packet via @evankirstel @philippbohn

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Just noticed this morning that Oracle is buying Acme Packet in a move that alerted me (and I suspect  others?) to the fact that Oracle even has a UC offering: Oracle Communications.

From my quick reading it appears that Oracle Communication currently consists of

  • Messaging
  • Calendaring
  • IM/P


http://www.oracle.com/us/products/applications/communications/unified-communications/overview/index.html

http://www.acmepacket.com/company/press-releases/pr/oracle-to-buy-acme-packet

Commentary:
http://www.nojitter.com/post/240147755/very-big-deal-oracle-buys-acme-packet-for-17-billion
http://www.thevarguy.com/2013/02/04/oracle-acme-packet-microsoft-lync/

Plantronics Blackwire 720 Stereo USB and Bluetooth UC Headset Review

 

Below is my video review of the Lync Optimized BlackWire 720:

uConnect p2p Communication Server

NOTE: this has nothing to do with Lync and is just myself keeping my brain cells stimulated. An evening, extra curricular detour…

After reading & thinking about webRTC, my take away is that the most transformative aspect is new “federation” models that webRTC has the possibility of enabling. One of these pointed out by Phil Edholm is a federation method that could be called “point at URL federation”. To envision how this would work I have started to write an extremely simple point at URL communication server (lab/proof of concept/experimental) to test the ideas.

The basic idea is that this type of “federation” (or inter organization connectivity) depends on nothing other than one user “pointing at another user URL” to connect to someone in the other organization. But what challenges will pop up with this? After scribbling on various napkins, I decided to just do a quick mockup app to test the ideas.

Pillars of this experimental Server/Client

  • interconnectivity with as little connection “friction” is a foundational goal
  • absolutely as little “start a conversation” friction as possible
  • IM/P & note is foundational as well
  • Note could serve as foundation for decentralized twitter-like social
  • with media made possible by webRTC (or something like it)

Some of my initial goals:

  • build an extremely simple server
  • starting with IM/P and non-realtime modalities
  • p2p server and client combined in web interface
  • voluntary participating in directory connects many different p2p servers
  • see how much can be achieved with GET model

(This is all a hobby/evening project so might take considerable time.)

Below: screen home user sees when logged in:

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Below: screen guest user sees

GuestName –or- usernamepassword

Next the “external user” will see a screen similar to above, with themselves and other user (the url they typed in) in the conversation.

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