Love Lync – 26th September 2013

Today was interesting, my first ‘Love Lync Master Class’.. Held in Microsoft’s UK Headquarters in Reading, with around 150+ people attending. Exhibitions (stalls) from AudioCodes, Sonus, Westcon Convergence, Plantronics, Jabra, Sennheiser, and Smart (showing off their entry level “Small” Lync Room System measuring in at 70-inch and an SRP of £15k).

Steve Douglas – Lync Server 2013 July Cumulative Update

Steve gave a talk on the new features of Lync Server 2013 July Cumulative Update.. Here’s a run-down, and he was kind enough to point out some restrictions, and gotcha’s. I’ve expanded on some of the points to give some more context.

Inline Images

This new features allows for the Lync 2013 desktop client to display a preview of images as you drag and drop them into IM conversations. First thing to mention is that the supported file types are jpg, gif, png, bmp, and tiff, no mention of a limit to the file size (as demonstrated with a ~8Mb JPEG). The recipient will be shown a 250px re-sized thumbnail, allowing them to click to open in whichever application is registered with that file-type. The image is not transferred automatically, the recipient is required to click the thumbnail to initiate the transfer of the full sized image to the ‘My Received Files’ folder. You can even paste in whatever image is in your clipboard, such as a OneNote Screen Clipping.

Here’s some important things to keep in mind…

  • Only available in Peer to Peer IM Conversations.
  • The images are not included in the ‘Conversation History’ folder in Outlook, although you will see a reference to a file transfer occurring.
  • For recipients using older clients, it will look just like a normal file transfer.
  • Recipients using Lync 2013 Mobile App (IOS / Andriod) will received a blank IM. And the sender may receive a generic ‘error in transfer’ message, instead of something descriptive or useful.
  • No way to specifically disable Inline Images, although you can…
    • To block those file types, but then you will obviously not be able to transfer images at all. Use the ‘File Filter’ section of LSCP or the following PowerShell
      Set-CsFileTransferFilterConfiguration -Identity <Site / Global> -Extensions @{Add=”.jpg”}
    • You can disable Rich Text Format support with the following PowerShell
      Set-CsClientPolicy -Identity <policy> -DisableRTFIm $true

IM Mute in Conferences

Previously you had the option to Disable IM in scheduled conferences, which would do as it says on the tin. IM Mute allows a presenter of a conference with IM to temporally block new IM’s being posted. (This feature is also used in conjuction with Q&A Manager – see below). The Lync 2013 desktop client makes a web services call to see if IM Mute is available on the server, and shows the appropriate button in the client, otherwise this option is hidden. When muted, the IM Area is greyed out, and display a message saying a ‘presenter has turned off IM’. Lync Web App also supports IM Mute, and shows the message to participants.

  • Older clients will not get any indications that IM has been turned off, if a message is sent, an NDR will be displayed.
  • IM Mute setting is not persistent during DR – just re-click the IM Mute button if it was previously clicked.

Q&A Manager

Allows for easy collection of questions independent from the IM window, and allows presenters to answer. Providing a concise list of questions and authorised answers without getting lost and cluttered in the IM section. When Q&A is enabled, IM is automatically muted.

  • Only allows for a single presenter to provide a single answer per question.
  • Does not support Rich Text / HTML, Smilies, nor Hyperlinks
  • Only the Presenter can export the Q&A, this will produce a plain text (.txt) file.
  • Can be enabled / disabled in LSCP under Data Collaboration Policy or in PowerShell
    • Set-CsConferencingPolicy -Identity <policy> -AllowQandA $False
  • If a user has had Q&A disabled, they can still initiate (and participate) in Q&A if the organiser of the meeting has it allowed via their policy.
  • Q&A Content is preserved in DR / re-hydration (Q&A is handled by the DATA MCU)
  • Only 1 instance of Q&A Manager is allowed at any one time in the meeting.

Reposition Speaker

Allows any user to move the active speaker video to all four corners of the ‘stage’.. This is a per user prefernce, the speaker cannot specify which corner they appear in… That’s about it for that one.

Meeting Environment

Improvements over the default view of an ad-hoc meeting, to automatically show or hide IM Window, and/or Participant List.

Two Factor Authentication

TFA is now supported when using the Lync 2013 desktop client.

  • Not supported on Office 365.
  • Cannot enable TFA for a subset of users, the whole pool needs to be enabled for TFA, and all other authentication types must be disabled for it to work. So a dedicated pool is required.
  • Lync Discovery DNS should point to a Non-TFA pool so users without TFA can still connect.
  • Skills Search does not work.
  • If a user has already logged on before TFA is enabled, they must click ‘Delete Sign-In Info’ otherwise they will be denied.

Additional Known Issues

Lync Web App has been reported to disconnect a user after 65 minutes and people are quick to complain about being ‘kicked out’ and or claiming it to be a ‘bug’. This behaviour is by design, it will disconnect users if they are inactive after 65 minutes.. To stop this from happening, make sure you interact in some way with the Lync Web App. i.e move the mouse etc.

Mark Lawton – Office 365 and Lync

I got stuck with a Plantronics rep who was very ‘intense’ about his products on display, unfortunately I missed the start of this talk. But the highlight for me was the fact that the new re-released Lync Online E4 Plan allows integration with an on-premise Lync deployment for Enterprise Voice.. This is also reported to be compatible with the Lync 2013 Hosting Pack.

Also with the addition of new licensing options for O365, adds Open and FPP to the mix.

Somebody raised a question about Lync Phone Editions connected via Edge for the first time (external provisioning) – the response was a rather downhearted admission that it was unlikely to ever appear. (Understandably due to the way the certificates are provisioned and the authentication involved – but it would be a nice feature, I guess we’re left looking to the vendors own software for this).

Another interesting point to finish off this post, is that from now on, Lync Online will have updates rolled out quarterly, and there will be a new version of Lync Server in Q2 2014…. Can’t wait…

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About Graham Cropley

Working as a Senior Consultant for Skype for Business, Exchange, and Office 365.

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