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[BREAKING] #Lync to #Skype Connectivity Is Officially Live Today

 

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While Skype <-> Lync federation has been working “unofficially” for some time, apparently is is officially live today according to the official Lync Team Blog (Interestingly the blog post has the date of May 23, 2013, but I suspect this just indicates the article was written before posting) and the Skype blog.

From my quick test, the Lync 2013 client now indicates a “Skype” logo beside “MSN” when you connect to a Skype federated contact, which seems to have changed as of today.

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Will MSN Power Skype <-> Lync Federation? Yes. Are LiveMessenger Users Living On Inside Skype? Yes

In Feb, 2013 I wrote an article on “How Skype <-> Lync Federation Works Behind the Scenes” . The only question remaining was: Will LiveMessenger live on? Or will it die the day Lync <-> Skype goes live? We have our answer today: LiveMessenger identity died today.

NOTE: I am quite interested in knowing if Lync can determine if a contact is using the Skype client versus the 3rd party live messenger client(s) and LiveMessenger client iteself (which is report to be living on as Live Messenger in China and possibly some other places.) If you have any information on this, please comment! UPDATE: According to Matt Hardwick Lync indicates contacts as Skype contacts even if the Skype/LIveMessenger/MSN/MSA user is logged into a 3rd Party “Live Messenger” client. So from this we can likely deduce that LiveMessenger/MSA users are largely living on in Skype and useragents will not change or determine the icon used.

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It appears that the MSN/Live Messenger federation icon has been changed from LiveMessenger to a Skype icon today (via ShawnHarry) This 100% verifies that traffic from Skype and LiveMessenger will be indicated identical in Lync and verifying my previous hunch that LiveMessenger/MSA users are largely living on inside Skype.  This also is another step in the “death” (or rebirth?) of LiveMessenger.

https://images.edge.messenger.live.com/Messenger_16x16.png

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Some Notes and Things to Be Aware Of
  • Video is not live today but is Skype’s next priority. click here

Some other Lync <-> Skype articles you might have interest in:

  • How Do I Enable Lync <-> Skype Federation from Skype Side? Click Here
  • How Does Lync <-> Skype Federation Work Under the Hood? Click Here
  • How Much Will Lync <-> Skype Federation Cost? Click Here
  • What is the Difference Between Lync and Skype? Click Here
  • Nov 2012: Lync <-> Skype IM/P Has Started Working: Click Here
  • Feb 2013: Lync <-> Skype Voice Has Started Working for Some: Click Here

http://www.justin-morris.net/lync-to-skype-connectivity-now-available/

Audiocodes Notes Coming Lync IP Phone To Get Optional Tablet Expansion Module for Attendant Console Functionality

 

Lync Phone Edition has no attendant console and does not integrated to the Lync Attenant Console. snom has their snom Vision and Polycom VVX is planning to introduce an expansion module.

Audiocodes notes that their 400 series will support an “optional tablet expansion for attendant console”. The brochure (below) and press release do not note if the “tablet” is a standard Windows or Android tablet, or if it is some proprietary “module”.

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http://www.audiocodes.com/filehandler.ashx?fileid=3249463

 

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http://www.audiocodes.com/press-releases/audiocodes-announces-availability-of-400hd-ip-phones-for-microsoft-lync

Jajah Voice Service for Office 365 & Lync To Be Discontinued August 31, 2013

An alert reader noted that Jajah now has a public notice that it’s Jajah Voice for Office 365 will be discontinued:

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https://voice4lync-us.jajah.com/home

via Walter with HealthWare

Since We Forgot To Put the Start Button on Windows 8, We Put It On Our Latest Mouse: Microsoft Sculpt Comfort Mouse

 

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As if to make up for the much missed Windows 8 Start button, Microsoft’s latest “Sculpt Comfort Mouse” comes with a Start button. But this Start button is not your fathers start button. Microsoft is hailing this a “touch-sensitive blue strip on its side called the Windows touch tab that makes it easy to navigate Windows 8 with just the touch or swipe of a finger.”

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We suspect that with the new “sculpting” combined with the “touch sensitive blue strip” that your finger can glide over, you hand will never want to go back to clicking a silly old “Start” menu button on a screen or keyboard. There is a mobile and desktop version so no one is without a “Windows touch tab”.

To read more about the Sculpt Comfort Mouse:
http://blogs.windows.com/windows/b/windowsexperience/archive/2013/05/23/announcing-sculpt-comfort-mouse-amp-mobile-mouse.aspx

HP Releases Free App to View Microsoft Lync User Registrations Graphically

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It looks like HP has the same ole’ issues as all the rest of us! And they have released a tool to view Microsoft Lync User registrations.

From what I can see it requires remote Powershell and SQL access to work but can run from a PC other than a Lync Front End.

Get it here:
http://www8.hp.com/us/en/software-solutions/software.html?compURI=1171412#

Tip: ‏@StevenvanH

#Lync User QuickTip #28: Lync 2013 Now Will Easily Check If Domain Has Federation Enabled

I just realized that Lync 2013 now has a very simple way of checking if a domain has federation enabled. Its just 2 simple steps:

  1. Type an SIP URI and open a conversation (the SIP URI can be a bogus user, the domain is all that matters)
  2. Now take a look if Lync shows “External Network” after “Presence unknown”, If so, this domain has external facing federation enabled at some level.

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If you want to check which of your Outlook contacts have Lync federation enable, even if you don’t have Lync, your welcome to download the free Lync Who Can Federate Tool available here: http://bit.ly/wcftool

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If you want to take a look at a list of the thousands of organizations that have Lync you can head over to http://bit.ly/lyncfed.

Outlook.com to Google IM is Live! Adds Jabber/XMPP Support to Outlook.com; Is Skype to Google Next?

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Microsoft has just released the ability for www.outlook.com users to Instant Message and see the presence of Google users. Interestingly the same week Microsoft announced and delivered outlook to Google interoperability, Google dropped a bombshell and noted that their nextgen IM/P solution called Hangouts (which will eventually replace Google Talk) would no longer support XMPP federation. Does this mean outlook.com to Google interop is doomed?

Actually not necessarily...at least not right now. Very interestingly outlook.com does not use XMPP federation, as one might expect, to talk to Google users: It appears to use the Google Talk API. What does this mean?

  • It means you will need a Google user login associated with your outlook.com account.
  • It also means that Google/Gmail users that receive an IM from your outlook.com account will look exactly like it is coming from a normal Google/Gmail user. (In fact, if you are logged into Gmail when an Outlook –> Google IM is occurring, you will see the conversation there)
  • It also means all your Google contacts will flow over into the Outlook.com People list.
  • It also means that you can IM from Outlook.com (via Google Talk login) to federated XMPP/Jabber based IM servers for as long as Google allows 3rd party clients to login to Google Talk and Google Talk does not remove XMPP federation.

IM/P between Outlook.com and a plain jane XMPP jabber.org IM/P account:

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There are several implications of this:

  • Outlook.com is becoming a kind of web based multi-protocol client just like Skype application itself! (see my complete blog on this)
  • If you have your Google/Gmail account associated with your Outlook.com/Microsoft Account, and you are logging into Skype with Microsoft Account, why couldn't this functionality eventually be brought to the Skype client itself? So Skype to Google would be very possible in exactly the same way Skype to Facebook is currently working.

But isn’t XMPP federation going away with Google Hangouts, the new app that will eventually replace Google Talk? Yes, IM/P between Google Hangouts app and contacts federated to Google via XMPP federation will not work…BUT…conversations between Google Talk and those same contacts WILL continue to work for some time. (not end of life announced yet) Since Outlook.com is really like a 3rd party Google Talk client this continues to work. Google has noted that 3rd party Google Talk client support will not be cut off at this time.

So it appears that Microsoft is just extending it’s existing strategy of having Skype and Outlook.com be mutli-protocol “clients” that login in to various other services like Skype, Facebook, Outlook.com/Live Messenger, and now Google. Perhaps Microsoft just took a page out of the success of the many popular multi-protocol clients out there and decided to do it themselves? That’s what it looks like. <end>

Hangouts Won’t Hangout With Other Messaging Vendors: Google’s New Unified Messaging Drops Open XMPP/Jabber Interop
http://windowspbx.blogspot.com/2013/05/hangouts-wont-hangout-with-other.html

Skype becoming a multi-protocol client?
http://windowspbx.blogspot.com/2013/02/some-thots-on-skype-federation-becoming.html

It Looks Like Live Messenger Client No Long Allows Sign In: RIP

It’s looks like we can no longer login to Live Messenger without upgrading to Skype! Previously I could bypass this and continue to login, but not anymore! (if you have different experience, please comment) I guess the end of the road for good old Live Messenger is here. RIP!

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Hangouts Won’t Hangout With Other Messaging Vendors: Google’s New Unified Messaging Drops Open XMPP/Jabber Interop

 

imageHow can a company in the same day chastise other vendors for not being open and drop the open and interoperable portion of their own unified messaging solution? On May 15, 2013 Google seems to have done just that.

Just yesterday at Google I/O Larry Page decried a sad lack of IM & presence interoperability between vendors:

image"I've personally been quite sad at the industry's behavior around all these things. If you take something as simple as IM, we've had an open offer to interoperate forever. Just this week Microsoft took advantage of that by interoperating with us but not doing the reverse. Which is really sad and not the way to make progress. You can't have people milking off of just one company for their own benefit…" (see video here)

But just days after Microsoft announces that www.outlook.com will integrate to Google’s IM/P solution via Google Talk’s XMPP protocol, Google notes that its new effort at a unified messaging solution (Hangouts which will replace existing Google Talk) will effectively cut off interoperability via XMPP. Google’s manager of real-time communication products, Nikhyl Singhal notes:

image“With Hangouts, Singhal says Google had to make the difficult decision to drop the very "open" XMPP standard that it helped pioneer…”

Google Developers Talk page has also clearly noted that XMPP is not supported in Hangouts:

Note: We announced a new communications product, Hangouts, in May 2013. Hangouts will replace Google Talk and does not support XMPP. [show below]

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What does this mean technically for XMPP to Google Federation today?

What does this mean technically today? User colaflash notes that the experience with the new Hangsouts-App (version 1.0.0.1, released today, 15th May 2013) is as noted below:

  • XMPP/Jabber contacts that you have saved in GoogleTalk will not show up in Hangouts app
  • Adding new XMPP/Jabber contacts in new Hangouts app will add them as email only contacts
  • XMPP/Jabber contacts can not send IM to Hangouts user (it fails to deliver with error)
  • Gmail account will appear online to XMPP/Jabber contacts when Hangout app is logged in (presumably through/via Gmail.com/GoogleTalk)
  • from Hangout App you cannot see others presence. Google Talk users will just see online when Hangout App is logged in.
  • If the same gmail user logs into www.gmail.com they can still IM XMPP/Jabber contacts (Google notes that talk will be superceded by Hangouts eventually)
How Many XMPP Federated Enterprise Organizations Will This Affect?

Earlier this year I did some research on how many Fortune 500 and 1000 companies have apparent public facing XMPP federation enabled and the numbers came in at around 10-15%. This means that between 10-15% of the top organizations could be affected by Google’s decision to drop XMPP. Read more here.

Questions About Clients: 3rd Party Clients, Google Talk and Hangouts

Q. Will my 3rd party Google Talk client still work?
A. At this time Google has not yet announced the end of life/retirement for Google Talk. As long as Google Talk is available 3rd party client apps as well as Outlook.com’s new Google connection could be expected to continue to work.

Q. Has Hangouts really removed contact presence?
A. Yes, below is the old Google Talk Android client (left) compared Hangouts app on the right. Two things that are missing in the new Hangouts App: Ability to see other users’ presence and the ability to set your own presence. Those using Talk app or Gmail.com will see a Hangouts user as Available if they are logged into the app.

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Q. Its quite inconvenient to not have presence and loose Jabber contacts, what can I do?
A. If you uninstall the Android Hangouts App you will be able to use Google Talk app again.

[Note: the above are observations and we do not have input from Google]

Conclusion

Google Hangouts unplugging support for XMPP has deep ramifications in the industry: This means that interoperability between Google and Microsoft Lync, XMPP/Jabber based solutions like Cisco Jabber, Openfire, Avaya and many others will also loose interoperability. Will this also put Microsoft Lync in the interesting position of being the the most widely interoperable enterprise UC solution? [complete article on this subject] Will Google Apps now be the “closed solution” in comparison to Microsoft’s “very open” UC solution?

In conclusion, perhaps the code name “babel”, used internally by Google to describe their unified messaging effort, was indeed an allusion to the Biblical story of the tower of Babel? In that story humans spoke a single language until suddenly multiple languages emerged, making communication between people and groups impossible…

Read more:
http://www.theverge.com/2013/5/15/4318830/inside-hangouts-googles-big-fix-for-its-messaging-mess
http://512pixels.net/2013/05/on-the-new-google-hangouts/

Microsoft Outlook.com Support Google Talk
http://www.theverge.com/2013/5/14/4327206/outlook-com-google-talk-support-rolling-out

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.google.android.talk

If you are interested in IM/P interoperability between vendors you may have interest in this blog

Microsoft MVPs and IT Experts Weigh In On Grad School: Just Say No

I posted “Don’t go to grad school?” on twitter followed by this LinkedIn article giving 7 reasons it’s a big mistake to go to grad school and was surprised by the flurry of feedback from top Microsoft Lync MVP’s on whether grad school is a good idea. What I was mainly surprised by is the unanimous chorus of “No!”.

Below are some interesting comments and input for those getting into the IT (and UC specifically) industry:

“Computer Science degrees full of coding didn’t interest me one bit. Did CCNA/MCSE instead.” –Justin Morris, Lync MVP

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“For me, less time spent in school equaled more time gaining real world experience…” –Pat Richard, Lync MVP, (Previously Exchange MVP) UCArchitect Podcast

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“Best advice my dad ever gave me was not to go to university. IT degree’s are worthless in my opinion. IT is practical first and academic a very distant second.” –Shawn Harry,

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“I tried doing a degree a few years back got through one year. What a waste of time. Most of it was out of date.” –Chris Norman, Lync TSP at Microsoft, Popular Lync blogger: voipnorm.blogspot.com

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“I was near a degree in chemistry when I started working. No regrets” –Fabrizio Volpe

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“The knowledge that launched my career didn’t come from the classroom, but by actually working in the school IT department!” –Jonathan McKinney, Lync Certified Master (MCM), UC Architect

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“I trained on the job. 13+ years real world experience tops any grad degrees in interviews now.” –Dave Simm,

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“I wouldn’t say grad degrees are “worthless”, but they are worth less than hands-ons. the IT people learn by curiousity…the thing is, education doesn't have to be classroom. It can be as simple as books & @TechNetUK. That's how I do it.” –Samuel Roach

What are your thoughts?

Enhanced Better Together: Lync Client to Support Better Together Over IP

About a month ago I noted that one of the announcements out of Enterprise Connect was the coming availability of “Enhanced Better Together” functionality for snom UC Edition phones. At that time I supposed this was purely a snom moniker, but considering various Lync Compatible IP Phone vendors are now noting coming “Enhanced Better Together” functionality I suspect this may actually be enabled via new functionality in the Microsoft Lync 2013 client.

The reasons for my thinking this is a new Lync 2013 client driven feature is that both snom and Audiocodes seem to be noting this new “Enhanced Better Together” functionality. Audiocodes specifically notes it is “Better Together support over Ethernet”. (shown below)

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snom

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Polycom

On page 13 of this UG presentation, Polycom VVX “Better Together over Ethernet” demonstrated.

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What Functionality Will “Enhanced Better Together” support?
  • At the moment snom specifically mentions click to dial and
  • “deeper integration and support for Lync collaboration and calling features” –snom click here
  • Click to Call –snom click here
  • it will work “over Ethernet” –audiocodes click here
When Will It Arrive?

Audiocodes notes “Enhanced Better Together” is a “2013 Roadmap Feature”. Not very specific, but it gives an idea.

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Will Lync Phone Edition Devices Get “Enhanced Better Together” Functionality?

At this time there is no indication that LPE devices will get this functionality. Only “Lync Compatible IP Phones” (as opposed to Lync Optimized devices) vendors seem to be noting this functionality.

Conclusion

Considering Microsoft is leaning more and more on non-Lync Phone Edition firmware based devices, this is very welcome news as users expect endpoint to be very integrated to the Lync client experience.