IM/Presence, Video, VoIP Calling Now a Feature of Windows 8 O/S Like Calculator: A New Era for Skype?



I’ve been reviewing Windows 8.1 Preview in general and my feeling is that Windows 8 has arrived. Microsoft has done an excellent job at merging Start with Desktop with a new start menu and melding of wallpaper. Allowing users to login directly to the desktop I would think will more than satisfy most concerns about the big change to Windows 8. The built-in Skydrive app syncs files to your pc for offline access. Very good.

Looking specifically at communication in Windows 8.1, it appears that IM/Presence, video and VoIP/voice calling to phones has become a feature of the latest Windows operating system with Skype’s arrival as an app that is part of the Windows operating system

Below are some specifics of that changes in Windows 8.1:

  • Windows 8.1 Preview comes with Skype (app store and desktop version) already installed as part of OS app suite
  • The Messaging app is no longer installed/available
  • Skype requires no login, just login to Windows 8.1 Preview and click on Skype and the associated Skype user will be logged into Skype
  • Skype notifications and incoming call toast appears even on Lock screen

Below are some screens shots of how Skype is baked into Windows 8.1 Preview:

People integrationimage



It is interesting to me that Google does not see Presence as

Lync 2013 for Windows 8 Gets an Update: Anon Meeting Join, Click to Dial, Improved Presenting & More


Lync 2013 for Windows 8 gets a few new features

  • Join Meetings anonymously
    • Can now be used as an unauthenticated Lync Attendee client
  • Tab to see upcoming meetings
  • Snapview has more functionality
  • Browse someone else’s shared slides
  • Take over as presenter
  • Click to dial from Win8 Browser
  • Change speed of voicemail playback
  • HIgh-contrast support
  • More reliable signon

Official Technet Blog on new features:

Johan Delimon over a Pro-Exchange does an overview of the new Lync app features:

Get It Hear

How to Share a YouTube Video That Starts Playing from a Min/Sec Bookmark In the Video You Select




Principle Skype Architect Explains What Killed Skype Peer to Peer: Proliferation of Mobile and Fragility of P2P “Supernodes”


So you want to know why Skype is abandoning its radical and cool peer-to-peer roots? Is it the big bad “Microsoft”? or the long fingers of the “NSA”? Nothing so sensational and something much more pragmatic. According to Skype Principle Architect, Matthew Kauffman, in a response on MarkMail, this big change is being forced by two very pragmatic technological items:

  • Proliferation of mobile devices
    • with no consistent bandwidth available to Skype app
    • with no extra CPU cycles (due to battery constraints, etc)
  • Bootstrapping “supernodes” after client bug induced failure far too risky

More on the mobile issue:

“Over the past few years, the number of Skype users who are using Skype from iOS-based phones and tablets, Android-based phones and tablets, Windows Phone-based phones, and Windows RT tablet devices has gone from a tiny percentage to a significant fraction of our user base. And these devices are a lot different: they're running on battery, sometimes on WiFi but often on expensive (both in money and battery) 2G or 3G data networks, and essentially "off" most of the time”

Here is an excerpt on the bootstrapping issue:

“…election winners were a monoculture of Windows desktop machines running the latest Windows Skype client. This proved to be a problem when not once, but twice a global Skype network outage was caused by a crashing bug in that client... bootstrapping the network back into existence afterwards was painful and lengthy…”

Another significant item that others have speculated (Mary Jo Foley, ARSTechnica, others) that Matthew Kauffman’s message verifies is that while Skype branding is replacing Live Messenger branding, it really is Live Messenger infrastructure replacing Skype “infastructure” in the background. Matthew Kauffman notes:

“…we have merged the Skype and Windows Messenger message delivery backend services, and this now gets you delivery of messages even when the recipient is offline…”

You can read the complete post here.

So while many some may be jumping to the conclusion that “Microsoft” is to blame for the big changes at Skype, is it really the mass migration to mobile devices we really have to blame? Does this mean Skype will have to change its name to Skyse? (Skype name came from Sky peer to peer. Is it now Sky Server? :-)

What ramifications does this have for new web/global scaled P2P WebRTC communication solutions?

[So, for all those worried about “Big Brother”: perhaps instead of a “1984” scenario (big brother intent on watching us), maybe is it more like a “Brave New World” reality? (our comfort & convenience effectively gives up privacy and individuality?…)]

via Tip from @evankirstel

Chatting With Mike Storella About What’s New at snom: HP Lync Phone Agreement, Enhanced Better Together & Phone Setting Provisioning


snom has recently added HP 4110 and HP4120 Lync Optimized IP phones to their portfolio. I was glad to get a chance to chat with snom COO Mike Storella about this new development and new developments in their Lync Qualified (snom UC Edition) devices.


Key take aways:

  • All snom distributors in America’s will carry the HP Lync Optimized phones
  • snom has no plans for snom branded Lync Optimized Lync Phone Edition
  • snom UC Edition (Lync Qualified) Devices to get Enhanced Better Together (better together over IP)
  • snom looking to bring ability to configure snom Lync UC Edition endpoint settings directly from Lync Server click here
    • One of the things we are looking at more and more is [bringing] more setting provisioning inside the Lync Server for for our phones to make [endpoint settings] provisioning easier.”
  • Mike lists several ways snom UC Edition IP Phones can be provisioned: snomtastic, snom Active, manually
  • snom has no plans for snom video phone at this time
  • snom has recently made several phones available in Brazil

If you would like to follow Mike Storella on twitter:

One of the things we are looking at more and more is [bringing] more setting provisioning inside the Lync Server for for our phones to make [endpoint settings] provisioning easier.

I’m Presenting on Lync + Skype Connectivity at Philly UC UG June 18 at 6pm @ Microsoft Malvern Office: Please Join Us

Tomorrow evening (Tues, June 18, 2013) I plan to be presenting on “Skype – Lync Connectivity” at the Philly UC UG. We will be looking at Lync federation,  how to enable Skhype-Lync  as well as how this works “behind the curtain”.

If you are in the area and want to join, please click here for the quick sign up.
If you would have interest in attending via a Lync Meeting, sign up and note “request Lync Meeting”


#Lync User QuickTip #29: Free Service Will Make Audio Call To Any Federated Lync User


Ever wish you would get a phone call as a convenient interuption? Ever setup Lync Server federation or an Edge at 1am and wish you could get an automated “buddy” to give you a call? Big Boss by Event Zero is a new, free, no sign-up web service that does this right now!

Just type in your contact info and click Go. That’s it.

[Note for security conscious people: David Tucker from Event Zero notes the tool *does not* collect your Lync User ID]

AmishCon 2013 Recap: Amish See Voice Calls as “Stripped Down, Decontextualized Communication”. Sound Familiar?


This past week I attended a conference at Elizabethtown College on Amish & Technology. The conference bills itself this way:

“This international conference will highlight the challenges and impact of recent technology (the Internet, social media, and telecommunications, for example) on manufacturing, family life, consumption, medicine, and leisure for Amish and other Plain communities in North America. In addition, conference presentations and seminars will cover many other aspects of Amish life including health care, mental health, social services, agriculture, business, history, quilts, and Amish-themed fiction.”

You might think "What on earth do Amish have to say about technology?!" My take away was that they do have some interesting things to say to a wider audience. The conference included academics (Prof. Donald Kraybill, Steven Nolt, David Weaver-Zercher), those interested in tech culture (Kevin Kelly of Wired Magazine) and many Amish and plain Mennonites.

Below are some general ideas the I thought were interesting:

  • “The Amish have over arching reasons for why they limit technology, the rest of us limit technology too, but with no over arching reason why. We do it in a very adhoc, individual and non-consistent way.” --Prof. Donald Kraybill
  • “Amish are not Luddites. They are fine using technology, they are just intentional about what they allow” --Prof. Donald Kraybill
  • “Both Amish and "English" are increasingly getting their identity from what they don't allow themselves: think about vegetarian, wholefoods, etc” --Kevin Kelly
  • “We are both the creators/masters of technology and the slaves of technology. We create technology and then immediately become its slave as well.” --Kevin Kelly
Amish, Voice Calls and Communication/Videoconferencing

I thought it was quite interesting to hear Prof. Donald Kraybill explain why Amish have rejected telephones:

“Amish see phone calls as stripped down, decontextualized communication." –Prof. Donald Kraybill

I immediately looked around the room to make sure Polycom or Microsoft Lync marketing people had stealthily slipped a PowerPoint slide into Prof. Kraybill’s presentation! But no, this WAS the reason Amish reject phones: They are so interested in maintaining strong personal relationships that they reject a technology they consider inferior to the “in person” experience. The question that occurred to me: What if I selected technology based largely on how it will affect my relationships with those important to me?

As if pointing out the “weakness” of voice only calling wasn’t enough, Kevin Kelly, cofounder of Wired Magazine noted part way through his presentation that he thinks Amish will actually accepted video conferencing!

“Amish accept a lot of technology. What are some new technologies we might see Amish accepting? I think things like GMO's, 3D printing, Solar and battery technology (already happening), and video conferencing…” –Kevin Kelly

I thought it was quite interesting that Kevin Kelly thought videoconferencing among new tech he thinks Amish / "plain" Mennonite people will accept in future. In a latter talkback session I queried him on why he thought Amish would have interest in videoconferencing and his thought was that it would(this is his idea, I would have my reservations)

Other Amish Conference 2013 Experiences

I found it quite interesting to have several days to chat with Amish/”plain” Mennonites and people like Kelly about technology. I found it interesting, among other things, to note that Kelly takes a “sabbath” from technology work 1 day a week just like I do myself.

Kevin Kelly’s PowerPoint hung (ironically on a slide: Technological Lessons of the Amish) After a too long awkward attempt trying to get going, with no A/V technician in sight, I overcame the “one person can never step out of a group and help when it is not his job” and made an appearance on-stage to give a go at troubleshooting. (Eventually the technician came and we got it going again)


If you are interested in technology and how we interface with it, I might suggest Kevin Kelly’s book: What Technology Wants. (incidentally there is a complete chapter on Amish called “Amish Hacking”)

What if we, like the Amish, selected our technology based on how it would effect our most important relationships?

Microsoft Lync Getting Web RTC: Plugin-Less Voice & Video in Browser “API Code Is Done”


Microsoft has been steadily marching towards the goal of bringing Voice/Video media into the browser without a plugin. In Feb 2013 they noted a roadmap of bringing voice/video/app sharing media to the Microsoft Lync UCWA API. The first part of UCWA arrived in March 2013 and focused on presence and IM. At Enterprise Connect 2013 Derek Burney, Corporate VP Microsoft Lync, noted that “…the Microsoft Lync Web App uses a plugin today. Microsoft will support webRTC as soon as the standard is ratified. This is a super exciting initiative.”

And now it appears that the code is done (but not yet released) for a Lync API that will bring plugin-less Voice/Video into the browser via HTML5. Tom Kisner, a UC Architect attending Microsoft TechEd 2013, noted the UCWA Overview presentation (June 4) demonstrated voice & video in the browser. The presenter noted “we are done [with API code] and currently scrubbing”. Kisner noted further that the API is using only HTML5 no plugin to bring voice/video into the browser.

The TechEd UCWA Deep Dive session (June 5, in progress as of this writing) is revealing more about the real time component of UCWA. Below is a diagram of media flows (submitted by Mattias Kressmark) and we will post more as information becomes available as this session (OUC-B405) is in progress as of this writing.


It should be noted that UCWA with real time media already is what powers the VOIP/video capabilities in the new Lync Mobile 2013 client. (According to Girija Bhagavatula during OUC-B405 TechEd2013 session, 3 out of the 5 Lync clients are already powered with UCWA)


One could presume that UCWA could be used to remove the need for a plugin for LWA (Lync Web App/ web-based meeting join experience). Lync currently does not have a stand-alone end user web client, but with this API developers or Microsoft could certainly create such a client.

Microsoft has not noted when the voice/video portion of the UCWA API will be released.

If you would like to learn more about Lync UCWA please take a look at the official

Other Sources:
Derek Burney announcement:

OUC-B405 TechEd2013

Lync News Summary Out of TechEd North America 2013

Was glad to chat a little bit via Skype to Mattias Kressmark who was on the TechEd 2013 expo floor last evening and get a little conference update. He and others are covering Lync developments quite well via twitter but it was good to video-chat to see & hear the buzz (and note that New Orleans culture seems to be rubbing of a bit on conference attendees as shown below)


A summary from Day1/June 3:

  • Lync Labs are good and working great so if you are on the ground, head over give them a go. (As a secret side benefit the lab facilitators are great Lync experts)
  • An observation from UC standpoint: There were a lot Server announcements to talk about but no big Skype or Lync announcements, In fact they were not even named in the 2 hour keynote on Day 1.  (presumably because most big announcements made at #LyncConf13)
  • The Surface RT and Pro give away…ah, rrr, sale, was creating huge lines.
  • from the expo floor: snom is showing their snom Vision
  • From the expo floor: AudioCodes is showing their coming 400HD Series phones:

Embedded image permalink

If you want to watch TechEd live streamed sessions:

TechEd NA 2013 Recorded Sessions:

Lync Pro’s at TechEd 2013 you may want to follow:
@dmstork @expta @MKressmark @justimorris