Archive for the 'Mobility' Category

11 MarLync 2013 for Windows Phone 8 – A First Look

It’s here! The Lync 2013 mobile client has finally arrived first on Windows Phone 8! This morning (UK time) we finally saw it go live in the store, ready to finally bring Lync audio and video to your mobile.

WP8 icon

I’ve prepared this complete run-through that demonstrates the massive improvements in functionality in this hugely anticipated client.  Read more…

14 NovLync 2010 for Windows Phone Update Available

I recently picked up a HTC Windows Phone 8X as I was keen on jumping on the WP8 bandwagon. I’ve been really happy with it so far, including how when you connect it to your Exchange mailbox it prompts you to install Lync.

Upon installing the Lync mobile client, I found a few things weren’t working properly like they did on Windows Phone 7.5. Fortunately, a new update is now available for Lync 2010 for Windows Phone in the Store (version 4.3.8111.0) that fixes a few compatibility issues and makes the client compatible with Windows Phone 8. Read more…

25 JunLync Mobile Updated – PowerPoint viewing comes to iPad

The Lync client for iPad was updated on Friday to version 1.5 to coincide with the recent CU6 patch release. This update provides a long awaited collaboration feature to take advantage of the screen on the iPad, allowing users to view PowerPoint presentations during online meetings.

Image: Microsoft

Note that iPad users can only view a PowerPoint presentation uploaded by another user (i.e. one that is using the full desktop Lync 2010 client) and the iPad user cannot control slides or upload their own slides. As described by Microsoft here, the user must join the audio portion of the meeting for the slides to be shared in the iPad client.

Chris Norman (of VoIPNorm) also pointed out that for this to work, the June CU6 updates must be installed on your Lync Server 2010 environment.

For more information and screenshots, check out Microsoft’s announcement post here.

14 MayWhy Lync voice and video on mobile is such a challenge today

Today, the sensationally awesome tech news site The Verge published a piece titled “Is video the future of voice?” that discusses HD voice on mobile and Voice over LTE (VoLTE). It touches on how voice quality is not improving on the mobile today because customers aren’t prepared to pay for it when the current standard is perfectly fine.

However with the arrival of LTE and better bandwidth, it highlights that consumers might be prepared to pay for real, good quality (not circa 2000 5×5 pixels wide “3G” quality) video calls on their phone. The challenge being in the consistent, reliable delivery over the network.

One of the key takeaway quotes by Terry McCabe (CTO of LTE services specialist Mavenir Systems) in this article is:

(Skype) lacks quality of service — it can’t guarantee that packets of data will reach their intended destination the way a carrier can when it prioritizes its own video calling service on the network

So basically what he’s saying here is that the carrier is essentially the only entity that can provide QoS (Quality of Service) of the audio/video packets over the mobile network. This gives them a tremendous advantage as the demand for video increases.

How does this impact Lync?

The quote above is basically your number one reason why you can’t get Lync voice and video on your mobile today. Skype can do it, we all know this. But Skype is free, and Lync is an enterprise grade product. It has to work well every time. Your company paid good money in licensing, hardware and implementation costs for Lync, so there should be no compromise.

It’s all about perception

Let’s imagine that the CEO attempts a Lync video call from his iPhone to the VP of Sales. It might start out fine and look fantastic. But if either person moves around a bit, or bandwidth contention hits that particular mobile tower, the video quality could suffer greatly. The blame isn’t put on O2, T-Mobile, Telstra, Telefonica or whatever other carrier, the blame is on Lync because that’s what they’re looking at at that second. Bad news for the latest flagship productivity solution you’ve deployed to the entire company.

As Randy Wintle highlighted in his post on why it makes sense, Call-via-Work is the best reliable voice solution for Lync on the mobile today. It ensures the call is initiated from your device regardless of what kind of mobile data connection you have, all the while providing Single Number Reach (presenting your work number to the person you called rather than your mobile number).

It’s not using VoIP, but users aren’t fussed about this. They were able to call who they needed to call on their Lync contact list, the call connected (reliably) and their presence was set to “In a Call“. It satisfactorily delivers a pretty consistent user experience to the mobile that users are already familiar with when they use Lync on their desktop PC.

Anyway, I thought the piece of The Verge was significant to mobile voice/video and that I’d wax lyrical about mobility for a bit there. 🙂

23 FebTalking about Lync 2010 Mobility on RunAs Radio

So a few weeks ago I jumped on the phone with Richard Campbell from the legendary Microsoft IT Pro podcast, RunAs Radio to talk about mobility in Lync 2010. It was really great fun to just wax lyrical with him about the different mobile platforms, evolution of these, business impact of mobility and data issues.

From RunAs Radio:

“Richard talks to Justin Morris about the mobility component of Lync. Only just released, Microsoft has Lync clients for iPhone, Android, Symbian and Windows Phone 7. Justin talks about how the mobile Lync client extends Lync’s concept of presence to the smartphone, so that people working in the enterprise can connect and communicate with their fellow employees on the road the same way. The conversation digs into the challenges of data connectivity versus cell telephony, and how Lync provides a call-via-work mechanism to centralize and control cellular call costs. And don’t worry – Skype comes up in the conversation too!”

Head over to the RunAs Radio site and download the MP3 here. Make sure you subscribe to their show also as it’s a great resource for IT Pros. Hope you enjoy the show!

09 JanWhat you should know about photos on Lync Mobile

Last week we were testing various scenarios regarding the displaying of photos in Lync Mobile as there are some inconsistencies with other clients (both Mac and PC). Seems I’m making a bit of a theme of talking about photos in Lync, having clarified a few things on how they work in the desktop PC client last year.

I identified some behaviour on the mobile client that could impact how you provision photos in Lync in your environment, here’s what I discovered.

How do photos display on mobile?

As I mentioned in my previous post about photos, the full blown PC client can display photos from AD/SharePoint, a URL you specify, or no photo at all. You can control this using a client policy to ensure your users all get the same experience.

On mobile, you have no control over how photos are displayed. Lync Mobile can only display photos retrieved from Active Directory or SharePoint, it cannot display a photo from a URL.

If a user is displaying a photo from a URL and there is a photo in AD, it will display the photo from AD. If there is no photo in AD, it will display no photo at all. Let me show you what I mean:

Tom’s photo when I use the desktop client. Tom has a photo from a URL defined.

Tom’s photo on Lync Mobile on iPhone. Because Lync Mobile cannot display photos from URLs, it displays no photo at all.

Implications

This has implications to your deployment because you may encounter scenarios where users are accustomed on the desktop client to seeing a photo of a user from a URL the user has specified. Once they start using the mobile client, they will either see no photo of the user/s at all (if no photo is in AD/SharePoint) or they will see the photo that is stored in AD (typically from Exchange) or SharePoint. This leads to an inconsistency in experience, which may generate calls to your helpdesk.

Not a huge one, but worth looking out for if photos are a big value point for your Lync deployment (and they should be).

03 JanA look at Lync Mobile on Android Tablet

With the release of Lync Mobile and following up on my preview of the iPhone client, I thought I’d show you what the client looks like on a tablet running Google’s Android OS also. I tested this on my ASUS Eee Pad Slider (that I reviewed on 48 Hour Adventure) running Android Honeycomb (no Ice Cream Sandwich for the Eee Pads yet) and I downloaded it right from the Android Market and installed it fine.

I am going to call this out here first and foremost, directed at people giving the apps a 1 star rating on the marketplaces – If Lync Mobile doesn’t sign in for you, check with your IT helpdesk that your Lync environment has been updated to support mobile clients.

Launch and Sign In

When you open up the app, you’re first greeted with a splash screen followed by the login screen where you can put in your login details.

After you’ve entered your credentials, and hit Sign In, you’re greeted with the Signing In screen.

The first thing I need to do is specify a phone number for Lync to simultaneously ring me on:

My Info

Once I’m signed in, I’m greeted with the My Info page where I can see my photo, status and call forwarding settings.

When I tap my status, I can change it to Available, Busy, DND etc.

Going into Options gives me a few things I can change – the number I’m simring’d on, whether to show photos or not, turning on/off logging and showing the version info of Lync.

Contacts and Chats

When I tap on the Contacts tab, I’m greeted with my full Lync contact list and can expand out each group I have.

Tapping a contact brings up their contact card and displays all their phone numbers and options to IM, call and send them an email.

Tapping on the Chats tab shows me all the IMs I have in progress in the session:

Takeaways

Basically this is just the Android mobile client stretched to fit the tablet, it doesn’t know it’s running on a tablet like the iPad client does. This is evident when you setup the number to simring on because it says “Enter your Android phone number”.

Good to see that the option is there if you have Android tablets floating around your organisation (ASUS, Samsung, etc..)

20 DecLync 2010 for iPhone – A First Look

This morning (UK time) the Lync 2010 for iPhone client (finally) appeared in the App Store. I’ve installed it and run through all of the functionality, and am stoked to bring you a run down of what everything looks like on this long awaited mobile client.

Signing In

When I first fire up the client, I’m greeted with the initial sign in screen to provide my SIP address and password. I can also drop down the More Details option to provide additional authentication/server details:

 

Once I’ve ready to go I hit Sign In and am presented with a screen telling me I’m being signed in, followed by a one-time run splash screen.

 

After I’ve been signed in, I’m asked to provide my mobile number so Lync can join me to meetings and so I can use the Call via Work feature.

 

My Info

When I first sign in, I’m greeted with my own information, showing my note, status and whether simultaneous ringing is on:

From here I can set my status, change some basic options and set my simultaneous ring options:

  

Contact List

When I touch the Contacts tab, I’m presented with my full Lync contact list in all it’s photo-adorned glory:

When I touch on a user I’m presented with their contact card and all their information. I can choose to IM them, call them or email them:

Chats

From the user’s contact card, I can initiate an IM session with them and go ahead and start sending IMs like normal:

From here, I can then bring up some more options by touching the icon in the right top corner where I can opt to call the contact, send my location or delete the conversation:

Sending My Location

This is a pretty cool new feature – I can send my address and a link to a map in an IM. Handy for telling people where you are on the go.
When I hit
Send Location, Lync uses the iPhone’s GPS to locate me on Bing Maps:

Once it’s pinpointed where I am, it shows the approximate address and point on the map (in this case, our office in St Albans :)) before I press Send:

Once I’ve clicked Send, Lync sends an IM to the other user informing them of my address and gives them a link to a Bing Map of where I am. Smart.

Finally, if I press the back button (in the top left of the screen), I’m taken to my active chats:

Joining Meetings

From the Meetings tab, I can see the meetings I have on during that day:

Note, this information is pulled directly from Exchange and not from the local iPhone calendar. I verified this by creating an Online Meeting in Outlook and then saw it refresh in Lync Mobile first and not the iPhone Calendar.

When I touch on the meeting, I’m then greeted with the event details and an option to join the Online Meeting:

After I click on Join Meeting, I’m presented with a screen informing me that I’m joining the meeting and that Lync is preparing to call me, shortly followed by an incoming call:

 

Making Calls

When I press the Phone tab, I’m greeted with a display of my voicemails. By clicking on these, I can opt for Lync to call me back to play these messages to me:

Note that this is mobile carrier voicemail and NOT Exchange Unified Messaging voicemail.  Upon further investigation I have found that this is in fact Exchange UM Voicemail and not your mobile carrier’s voicemail.

I can also press the keypad icon in the top left corner to get a dial pad where I can make calls. These calls are initiated from the Lync server using the “Call via Work” function over the PSTN (Randy Wintle wrote a great post defending this functionality).

This enables Single Number Reach and ensures whoever I call sees the same single work number regardless of which device I use.

Conclusion

It’s fantastic to finally see the iPhone client in the wild and available to the masses. It’s fast, doesn’t churn battery like CoMo did and the calendar integration is tip-top.

As with all IT assets, make sure you evaluate this client properly and set the correct expectations for your users before supporting it. Be prepared for calls to your helpdesk asking about this client and the others (WP7/Android) as they are freely downloadable from the App Store but won’t work unless your backend Lync infrastructure is up to scratch.

12 DecLync Server 2010 Mobility Round-Up

Hot on the heels of CU4 coming out, a huge amount of noise was created last Friday as loads more info became publicly available about enabling the Mobility components for Lync. A Partner Network event also took place detailing a lot of high level info.

The Mobility Server install files can now be downloaded here and you’ll want to download the Mobility Guide here also that documents the entire deployment process.
To help you along the way, fellow MUCUG London founder Adam Jacobs has also published a mega comprehensive step by step installation guide over on his blog.

Fellow Modality Systems consultant Ari Protheroe has published a great gotcha post on what not to do to get the Mobility and Autodiscover services installed. Could easily trip anyone up that goes at it like a bull out of a gate.

Also of note, the Mobility content has been added to the Lync Server 2010 TechNet Library:

One worth checking out to understand what works on what mobile handset is the Mobile Client Comparison Tables. This document shows which handsets support push notifications, how they utilise presence, contact organisation, IM, Conferencing and Telephony support.

When will the clients be available?

They’re up on the Windows Phone Marketplace now on the UK store and US store (thanks to Ben Lee for announcing these on twitter and a great overview post of the WP7 client in action).

iPhone and iPad clients should be available this week (wc 12th Dec 2011) and will depend on how long it takes for them to get through the Apple App Store approval process (something all apps are subject to and a process we’re familiar with at Modality).

It’s my understanding that the Android app will appear in the Android Market during this week as well.

What a great way to kick off Monday hey? Awesome to see these clients finally hit the streets and continue the great Lync experience on mobile devices.

21 NovCumulative Update 4 (CU4) for Lync Server 2010 Released

Over the weekend, the much anticipated Cumulative Update 4 for Lync Server 2010 was released. I was up in Scotland enjoying sunny Glasgow so missed out on providing super-cutting edge breaking news, but fellow Modality consultants Tom Arbuthnot and Ari Protheroe and MUCUGL co-founder Adam Jacobs covered it pretty extensively in their blogs.

This CU is a precursor for the Mobility side of things on the server, and is in preparation for the impending release of the Lync Mobile clients for Windows Phone, iPhone, iPad, Android and Symbian. It does not however, actually include the Mobility server components requires to provide functionality for the mobile clients (as Lync MVP Kevin Peters mentioned).

In addition to enabling new functionality, there are a bunch of bugs fixed in this update relating to things like CAC, file transfer, the Address Book service, media flow for AV conferencing and much much more.

There are a few new Lync Server Management Shell cmdlets in CU4, and they all pertain to mobility. I won’t reinvent the wheel here by explaining what they all do as Tom has covered them all really well from the CU4 help file in his blog post above.

As always, these updates are cumulative (hence the name), which means they contain all updates from previous CUs as well. Remember to back up your Lync servers and configuration before applying the update.
The Microsoft download link is available here.