Skype for Business Cumulative Update 1 Hits: New SLA Feature, Plenty of Fixes

Skype for Business

At last! Skype for Business has a full-fledged Cumulative Update!

Like its Lync predecessors, CU1 contains a group of updates, some of which were previously available on their own. The CU’s KB number is 3061064. You’ll find its download page here: Skype for Business Server 2015 Cumulative Update KB3061064 –

CU1’s KB page with installation steps is here: Updates for Skype for Business Server 2015 – MS Support

The esteemed Greig in Sydney Blog has a thorough rundown of the Cumulative Update (with my kind of dry wit) right here:
SfB 2015 CU1 Server Update – November 2015: Greig in Syndey

What Do We Have in CU1? Fixes, Removals and Additions

With Greig’s help, let’s look at some of the updates included.

  • There are updates for Standard Edition, Enterprise Edition’s Front End and Back End, Edge, Persistent Chat, Mediation Server (standalone), Director and Video Interop Server (VIS).
  • This is primarily fixes, such as an issue stopping Windows 10 Edge users from joining Skype Meetings via the Web App (3095143).
  • This update removes a feature! Server-side Conversation History is removed from branch site deployments. Boo! (Yes, it’s still available in main server deployments and local machines. This isn’t a big loss. Still, leave us our Conversation History!)
  • We have new PowerShell cmdlets:
    • Add-CsSlaDelegates
    • Get-CsGroupPickupUserOrbit
    • Get-CsServerPatchVersion
    • Get-CsSlaConfiguration
    • New-CsGroupPickupUserOrbit
    • Remove-CsGroupPickupUserOrbit
    • Remove-CsSlaConfiguration
    • Remove-CsSlaDelegates
    • Reset-CsNotificationQueues
    • Set-CsGroupPickupUserOrbit
    • Set-CsSlaConfiguration

What’s “SLA”?

SLA in the above cmdlets stands for “Shared Line Appearance“. This is a new feature, which allows Skype4B devices to share calls via workgroups. Useful for a call center or customer service. These cmdlets let you administer the SLA feature within Skype for Business.

SLA3140-1–Image courtesy of

Matt Landis has SLA setup details on his blog: Setting Up Skype for Business Shared Line Appearance – Microsoft UC Report

The Kressmark Unified Communications Blog also has a diagram & details about Shared Line Appearance from the Ignite 2015 sessions: MS Ignite BRK3140 – The Voice of Skype for Business: Kressmark Unified Communications

From Greig’s description and Matt’s write-up, SLA sounds quite promising for call management. However, SLA suffers from one flaw right now – it’s limited to Polycom VVX phones. I spoke with some fellow IT pros at our last Lync User Group meeting about these phones–apparently quite a snazzy line of multi-functional VoIP devices. Looking forward to testing one as soon as I can.

This also means the Skype for Business client doesn’t work with SLA yet. Problem. Yes, we still have delegates and Response Groups to manage calls through the client (they even get some fixes with CU1). But not bringing a new feature to the client software first strikes me as a little experimental. Something like, “Let’s try this new feature on a specific device group, see what its users think, THEN push it out to everyone else.”

Update Your Skype for Business Servers to Cumulative Update 1 As Soon As You Can

Microsoft Update won’t auto-install CU1; you must do so manually. Consult the CU1 KB page for the installation procedure. It varies depending on your server edition and how many servers you run.

If we run into any snags with our CU1 update, I’ll document it here. If you encounter any CU1 issues, please comment or email & let’s see what we can do.

Also, what are your thoughts on Shared Line Appearance? Must-have? Don’t-need? Let’s hear it.

Hope everyone has a Happy Thanksgiving! We’ll see you back here in December.

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The Top 7 Reasons to Move from Lync Server to Skype for Business

Lync Server 2013, Skype for Business

The end of the year creeps up on us. When it does, I like to look through my list of collected blog post ideas, and see which I should tackle before 2016.

I realized there’s one question I haven’t explicitly answered yet. “Why should we move from Lync Server to Skype for Business?”

With a software application as big & powerful as Skype4B, you’d expect some reticence from buyers. Entirely reasonable—people deserve to know how such a big upgrade will benefit them.

When we talk to Skype4B prospects, the unsure ones tend to fall into one of two camps:

A. “We decided not to use Lync. It was too complicated to set up.”


B. “It took us a lot of effort to get Lync configured to where we want it. Will we really gain from the move?”

Good question. Yes, almost every business running Lync Server would gain from upgrading (especially if you’re still on Lync Server 2010!). But that’s not a sufficient answer. Details, we must have details!

What about Skype for Business 2015 is worth the upgrade effort? What reasons would compel most businesses to move?

Here are seven of those reasons.

1. The New Interface.

Using the Skype interface instead of the Lync UI provides several major benefits…and one issue.

The benefits: It’s easier to navigate than Lync 2013. It’s simple to activate features (adding voice to an IM conversation, for instance). It’s familiar to Skype-C users. And you get emoticons!

April Fool!

The issue: Users may think they’re using Skype-C. As a result they can get confused when they can’t find their favorite feature. Then you hear about it.

2. New/Updated Features.

Conversation History (updated). Call Monitor. Call via Work. Rate My Call. We’ve gone through new features in previous posts already. (Personally, I think Server-Side Conversation History is a major reason to upgrade all by itself!)skype4bvis_thumb

One we haven’t covered much yet is VIS, or Video Interoperability Server. It’s a new server role for video interoperability—”like Mediation Server for video” as a colleague described it. We’ll get to that in future posts (so don’t forget to subscribe!).

3. Skype Directory Search.

While this might seem like a detriment to business communications, there’s a major value in integration between Skype for Business and the Skype Directory: Expanded Reach.

Untold numbers of businesses still use Skype-C for chatting and calls. It’s cheap, simple and does the job. Moving up to Skype for Business gives you access to a far broader range of contacts throughout the business world.

“Do you have Lync?”
[Cue scramble for another meeting option.]

“Do you have Skype?”
“Great! I’ll send you a meeting invite.”

4. Bandwidth Efficiency.

Skype for Business uses about the same amount of bandwidth as Lync Server 2013. However, Skype4B gives you better control over that bandwidth through built-in tools.

Network Bandwidth Requirements for Lync Server 2013
Network Bandwidth Requirements for Skype for Business

Skype for Business uses more codecs and bandwidth allocation for its expanded feature set. This includes the SILK codec from Skype. That means it’s more complex to set up, right? Not so. Microsoft also has a Bandwidth Calculator spreadsheet to help you map out how much bandwidth you’ll need. Skype for Business Bandwidth Calculator – Microsoft Downloads

5. Skype. Secured.

Skype-C is a versatile app, with well-deserved popularity. It’s also infamous among systems administrators, who hate trying to manage it in a corporate environment!

Skype for Business offers a compromise. Employees can use a version of Skype in the office. Administrators have a Microsoft server app they can control & secure. It works for everyone.

(I did a post on this back in June, in case you missed it.)

6. The In-Place Upgrade.

It doesn’t always apply. But having an in-place upgrade option to Skype4B is a big timesaver.

Image courtesy of Matt Landis' Microsoft UC Report Blog

Image courtesy of Matt Landis’ Microsoft UC Report Blog

Not just that, but it represents an easier upgrade path in the future. If we have an In-Place Upgrade option for this version, there’s no reason we won’t get one for the next.

7. Cloud-Friendly.

The Hybrid option with Office 365 means two things for a Lync-to-Skype4B move:

  1. Additional capabilities built in (Office apps, OneDrive cloud storage, Persistent Chat from the on-prem installation)
  2. Two-stage adoption process (Office 365 deployment first, employees have time to adjust, then introduce the Enterprise Voice feature)

I thought about including the new mobile apps here as well. But that’s not a reason to upgrade Lync Server; it’s a reason to update your phone. Still a good reason, but I try to stay consistent!

What’s your reason for upgrading from Lync Server to Skype for Business? Please comment or email. I’d like to hear which reasons compel the most upgrades. Maybe it’s something completely different!

P.S. – We’ve had some great comments come in recently. Our Skype4B team has them—we’ll do what we can, as soon as we can!



iPhone Can’t Verify Your Lync/Skype for Business Certificate? How to Resolve

Lync Server 2013, Skype for Business

Time for more Lync/Skype4B troubleshooting!

We had a customer call in the other day. He had an older iPhone (4S, iOS 8) and still used Lync Mobile for iOS. Now, it worked fine when he was on the go (which he was much of the time). But when he tried to log in while in the office, he sees a sign-in error:

Can't Verify the Certificate from the Server

One of our Support Engineers went on-site with his iPhone 6 (iOS 9), running Skype for Business for iOS. He tried to connect to their server—and saw the same kind of error!

Skype for Business iOS Can't Verify Certificate

The Problem: iOS Looks at Internal Certificates and Says “Huh?”

We encountered this error ourselves. Internally, just after building our Lync Server 2013 instance. It’s an issue with the device and Lync/Skype for Business’ internal certificates.

Ordinarily, the Lync Server/Skype for Business Server will send certificates out to devices for authentication. Depending on your location (e.g., which network you’re on), these certificates are deployed as external (outside the local network) or internal (within the local network) certificates.

After version 5.4 of the Lync Mobile iOS client, iOS began having trouble verifying certificate authenticity. It appears to happen much more on internal certificates than externals. As far as we can tell, there is no single cause we can point to.

Even Microsoft isn’t sure. On both of the KB pages mentioning this error:

They say, “The cause of each message is slightly different, but both errors are caused by the inability to verify the authenticity of a certificate or certification authority.”

Tom Talks UC also talks about it, with a little more detail, but no definite cause. Which is okay—he gets to the important point fast. How to fix it.

How to Install a Root Certificate on iPhone

First, verify you have a trusted root CA (certification authority) installed. Likely you installed this during Skype for Business setup, and it’s fine, but it never hurts to check.

(Reference on certificates during Skype4B Server setup: Install Skype for Business Server 2015 on servers in the topology – TechNet)

The solution to the internal cert error is simple: Install your Root CA certificate on the iPhone.

How? There’s actually several ways.

  1. Email it over. Attach the certificate file to an email & send it to your iPhone. Tap the cert and you’ll see an installation screen with an Install button. After tapping that, you’ll probably see a warning: “The authenticity of ‘RootCert1’ cannot be verified.” Well, it’s your cert, so it’s OK to install. Tap “Install” and proceed. You should only need to do this once.
  2. Post the cert file to a private URL for download. Doing this lets you follow the same installation process as emailing. You’ll just use the iPhone’s browser (Safari, by default) to locate & install the root certificate. I recommend using a private, internal-only webpage for this. You don’t want any certificate file available for public download!
  3. Use the Apple Configurator. I hadn’t actually heard of this before. If you use a large number of Apple devices, the Configurator lets you configure them simultaneously. Like Group Policy on Windows systems. Adding a certificate via an Apple Configurator Configuration Profile automates the installation & deployment.

Which method you use depends on your network setup. We used email, as the customer in question didn’t use Apple Configurator and email was a fast (and successful) way to test.

Have you encountered an internal certificate error in Lync/Skype for Business? Please comment or email on how you resolved it. If you haven’t yet, I hope this post helps you do so!

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Can Skype for Business Contribute to Big Data Research?

Skype for Business, SQL Server

Analysis has been part of the Lync Server family pretty much since the beginning. How else will you know to troubleshoot a SIP trunk or softphone, if you don’t have some form of data on where the problem is?

In recent years though, we’ve seen the arrival of Big Data. Going beyond server logs to huge data warehouses. Algorithms poring through exabytes. Insights teased out for many a scientific or commercial purpose.

Some Big Data research goals I’ve seen include:binary_file

  • Analyzing marketing campaigns
  • Predicting customer behavior
  • Improving scientific research processes
  • Finding inefficiencies in operations

It got me wondering. Skype for Business generates a fair amount of data. What kind of value could it contribute to Big Data research?

More Than Monitoring

In a sense there’s already a Big Data engine within Skype for Business Server – the Monitoring Server. It collects data on the other servers and Skype4B clients. Call Detail Recording (CDR)? Quality of Experience (QoE)? The Call Quality Dashboard? All a type of data analysis.

I’m thinking bigger than Monitoring though. Every bit of data generated & stored by Skype for Business and its dependencies. Conversation logs, call data, SIP traffic, bandwidth monitoring, server use records, and so on.

If you put all these together, what would be the best Big Data purpose for which to use them?

I’d have to say the last one strikes me as the one best suited for Skype for Business data: Finding inefficiencies in operations.

Analyzing these data can tell you if:

  1. There’s a correlation between your website’s uptime and customer support calls?
  2. Your recent beta launch took off, according to call workflow activity?
  3. Inter-department conversations alert you to an internal management issue?
  4. Marketing’s claim of 20% brand awareness growth matches to Sales’ incoming call volume?

And so on.

So there’s at least a business case for adding Skype4B data into Big Data research. The question now is, how feasible is it?

How Skype for Business Could Contribute Data

Skype for Business is a Microsoft server app. So of course its default database server is MS SQL Server. Running Skype4B Enterprise Edition requires multiple SQL servers in fact – Front End, Persistent Chat, Archiving, Monitoring, and any mirroring you want. (Standard Edition uses SQL Express.)

SQL Server databases are relational. In some Big Data articles I’ve read, relational databases are considered inferior for Big Data applications. The reason being that Big Data takes multiple disparate data sources, tosses them in its blender, and whips up some results. The inherent tabular structure of relational databases complicates making matches to other data types.

Not sure I believe this. Besides, it doesn’t mean SQL Server data is unusable. Far from it! You’d just need the proper tools to either convert the relational data, or analyze it as-is.

In terms of tools, I went looking, but quickly got lost among the many Big Data technologies! Hadoop, Odata, Spark, R…suffice to say there’s options out there to make use of your Skype for Business data.

(In fact SQL Server 2016 will include R, which should make Big Data analysis much easier.)

I did find a third-party solution called PowerView from UnifySquare. PowerView collects Lync Server 2013 data (website says it’s also Skype for Business 2015 Ready) into a central warehouse usable for Big Data queries. It also generates visual reports & dashboards, to make use of the insights you’ll find.

There’s also the PowerBI initiative from Microsoft. Among PowerBI’s listed connections are “SQL Database Auditing,” “Azure SQL Database” and “SQL Server Analysis Servies.” I see no reason why it couldn’t use Skype for Business databases as a data source.

I’m sure many other third-party Big Data platforms exist, which can incorporate Skype for Business data sets. If you know of any, please share!

Have you employed Skype for Business data in a Big Data query? What tools did you use? Please comment or email.


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Skype for Business on iOS: New Client is Good, Not Perfect

Skype for Business

Last week, we got a new version of Skype for Business for iOS. This replaces the Lync 2013 app for iPhones and iPads.

I first got the heads-up from Guy Bachar’s “Just a Lync Guy” blog, when he posted on Twitter. So I went to the App Store and got myself a copy.

Note: I recommend deleting the Lync app and installing Skype for Business fresh. Some early-adopters said they had trouble with the upgrade path.

After some time fiddling with the app, I’m prepared to blog. So let’s see what we Lync/Skype fans have to work with on our iPhones now, shall we?

Signing In

I used the same sign-in process as I did with Lync 2013. Entering email and password, then opening Advanced Options and entering a domain-based username. Like this: DOMAIN\chris.w.

This is required by our Skype for Business Server setup, and is mentioned in the Skype for Business Help under “Need help signing in to Skype for Business (iOS)?”. Your setup may vary slightly. I’m mentioning it here in case you keep seeing “Cannot Sign In” messages.

Once you’re logged in you have three primary screen options – Contacts, Meetings and Phone. In Lync 2013, I also had a “Chats” screen. This is not present in Skype for Business. Yet. Instead we have an “Upcoming” screen which displays upcoming meetings.


From here you’re able to:

  1. View upcoming calendar events, including meetings
  2. Make & receive voice calls, including video
  3. Join Online Meetings
  4. View Presence status for contacts (and change your own)
  5. Listen to voicemails

Feature Changes

The biggest change between the Lync iOS app and the Skype for Business iOS app is, of course, the new interface. I’d say the iOS app looks a little more “bubbly” than the desktop client, but maybe that’s just me.


In addition, Skype4B iOS also has:

  • Enhanced In-Call and In-Meeting experiences
  • Full-screen video, with simultaneous viewing of the shared content and speaker’s video
  • Larger buttons for meeting controls
  • Support for Active Directory Authentication Library (ADAL) based multi-factor authentication


It’s a mobile app, which often means reduced feature sets. Microsoft has listed out the limitations in the initial release here: Some Lync 2013 for iPhone/iPad features are missing in Skype for Business for iOS – Microsoft Support

Examples are:
Accessing a contact’s Contact Card.

Sharing PowerPoint presentations (but this is expected in a future update). I wouldn’t want to manage an Online Meeting from my phone anyway! But having the option using an iPad does make sense.

Return a call using a Voicemail message.

Set Call Forwarding options, or use Call Transfer.

You do need a device running iOS 9. If you’re still on iOS7 or 8, the new Skype for Business will not install. Instead iTunes will install “the latest version supported”, which is Lync 2013.

There’s also still a bug with saving conversations on the server. This was a major advancement for Skype for Business: server-based Conversation History. Yet users are reporting that they don’t see iOS-initiated Conversations in their desktop Conversation History.

I tested this out myself by having a brief chat with a co-worker using Skype for Business. Me on a phone, he on a desktop. After 30 minutes, he saw the conversation in his Outlook’s Conversation History. I did not.

Verdict: It’s Staying on My Phone, But It’s Not Perfect Yet

The price of early adoption is an imperfect experience. If you’ve ever beta-tested app, you know this. This new Skype4B app is missing some features I’d like (call forwarding options, Conversation History), but it’s now on an upgrade cycle. We’ll see more features come up soon.

Meanwhile, the app doesn’t crash on me. It lets me communicate with co-workers and customers. Skype for Business on iOS does its job.

Do you have Skype for Business on your iPhone/iPad yet? What’s your experience? Please comment or email your thoughts.

Now I have to think of a Halloween-themed post for next week, hmmm…


Skype for Business vs. WhatsApp

Skype for Business

Continuing our “Skype for Business VS.” idea, we’re doing a comparison to WhatsApp!

The Basics: Feature Sets

Skype for Business 2015
Instant Messaging Chats
Voice Calls Voice Calls
Video Calls Video Chats
Conferences/Online Meetings N/A
Presence Status Status Indicator
Persistent Chat Group Chats
Runs On-Site (Server)
or SaaS option (Office 365)
Mobile App,
Web Service Option


whatsappicon(Please note: For today’s post, I’m running WhatsApp on my iPhone. If you use a different phone, you should see identical, if not very similar, WhatsApp screens.)

WhatsApp is a messaging app made for iPhones, Android Phones, Blackberries, Windows Phones, and Nokia Phones. It’s owned by Facebook now, but was started separately by some former Yahoo employees.

Like [Google Hangouts last time], Skype for Business and WhatsApp have similar feature sets. The fundamental difference between them is that WhatsApp is entirely mobile-based. Skype for Business focuses on the desktop first, desk phones after, then mobile clients.

The Similarities: Functions, Ease of Use

I find WhatsApp closer to Skype for Business, in terms of function, than Google Hangouts.
Its Chats are very similar to Skype4B’s Instant Messages. You can send images and video within the conversations. You can call others in the system.




Everything is accessible from one central contact-based menu. I found instructions throughout the client, written & styled to look like the iPhone’s own commands. The WhatsApp team kept ease of use in mind while designing, that’s for sure.

All that said, there are notable differences between the two communication systems.

The Differences: Privacy, Security, Mobile vs. All

First off – WhatsApp is mobile-based. There is no desktop client. Skype for Business has mobile capabilities, but it’s desktop-based.

While WhatsApp covers devices Skype4B doesn’t (people still use the Blackberry?), Skype4B has more capabilities due to its server setup.

Conversation History. WhatsApp chats are saved to your phone. It’s possible to email chats in order to save them externally: How do I save my chat history? – WhatsApp FAQ

The WhatsApp app does have a backup option. It allows you to backup chats and videos (optional) to iCloud on the iPhone. This is not enabled by default; you must do so in Settings.

So there is a form of Conversation History within WhatsApp. However, it’s not automatic, or as comprehensive as Skype for Business’ Conversation History function.

Privacy. WhatsApp does have a pretty good privacy policy. I like that they use simple “human” language for it too. An example:

“WhatsApp does not collect names, emails, addresses or other contact information from its users’ mobile address book or contact lists other than mobile phone numbers—the WhatsApp mobile application will associate whatever name the WhatsApp user has assigned to the mobile telephone number in his/her mobile address book or contact list…”



Privacy controls are available in WhatsApp Settings. It’s not at the same level as Skype4B though (server edition at least). With Skype4B you have complete control of your data’s storage & logs. With WhatsApp, you do not.

Security. WhatsApp does not use end-to-end encryption. For corporate use where data security is a must, this makes WhatsApp a no-go. In contrast, Skype for Business does employ encryption, precisely to protect your data. (The Skype for Business team confirmed this in a Reddit thread.)

Finally, there is no 911 access on WhatsApp. I don’t think this is a deal-breaker, since you’re using a phone, which by definition has 911 access. Just pointing it out.

Final Words: WhatsApp OK for Personal, Not Great for Business (But Skype4B Is!)

The WhatsApp team deserves credit for their UI. They made a messaging app that’s clean, simple to use, and clearly popular.

I think WhatsApp makes a good casual communication tool, for personal use. However, it’s missing the security & privacy requirements needed to work in a business environment. For that, you’ll need Skype for Business.

Have you ever used WhatsApp in a business context? If so, what was your experience like? Please comment or email. Also, if you have another communications tool you’d like me to compare to Skype for Business, please send that over too!

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How to Create a Custom Monitoring Report in Skype for Business (and Lync Server)

Lync Server 2013, Skype for Business, SQL Server 2012

In August I promised a post on creating custom Monitoring Reports. Here are the previous Monitoring Server posts, for reference:
“Which Monitoring Report Should I Use for X?” (Part 1)
“Which Monitoring Report Should I Use for X?” (Part 2)

Time to deliver!

1. Determine which criteria you want to employ in the custom report.

I’d wager your reason is to combine several different Monitoring data into one report. Or to drill down on a specific data point. Either way, start by defining the specifics before you even touch the Monitoring Server.
First, choose from the available Monitoring categories:

  • System health
  • System usage
  • CDR Data
  • Per-User Failed Sessions (Peer to Peer, Conferencing)
  • Diagnostic Data (Peer to Peer, Conferencing)
  • Call Quality
  • User Activity
  • Failed Call Diagnostics

For a list of metrics belonging to these categories, see this TechNet page: Using the Monitoring Dashboard in Skype for Business Server 2015 – TechNet

Also consider time period. Do you want reporting on the past 2 weeks? 30 days? Longer? You’ll have to factor this in too.

Finally, clarify the goal of this report. Do you want to keep an eye on Sales’ call quality? Monitor the system health at a branch location? It helps to write this down & keep it in mind during setup.

For the rest of these steps, I consulted the following posts (and encourage you to do the same):
Lync 2013 – Creating Custom Lync Reports within Monitoring: Northern UC
How to build a custom report for Lync/Skype for Business – Just a Lync Guy

2. Access the Monitoring Reports Page

Do this via the report page’s URL, plus login & password. If you aren’t sure of the URL, use the “Get-CsReportingConfiguration” Powershell cmdlet to locate it.

DO NOT click “LyncServerReports” just yet. What we want instead is the Report Builder.

3. Begin Creating with the Report Builder

If you don’t see Report Builder on the toolbar, either:

  • Report Builder is disabled on the SQL reporting server
  • You don’t have permission to use it
  • You’ll need to install the Report Builder application

If you do need the Report Builder application, download it here: Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Report Builder
(Hopefully we’ll get a new version of this with SQL 2016.)

Use your Monitoring Server Reports URL for its Report Server field.

Once installed/active on the server, select “New Report” in the New Report or Dataset window.  Select “Table or Matrix Wizard”.

On the “Choose a Dataset” screen, select an existing dataset or create a new one. You’ll be prompted for a data source. You’re looking for the SQL DB containing the monitoring data relevant to your goals. (See, told you it helps to know!)

Our Monitoring Server has two data sources – CDRDB and QMSDB. I went with the CDRDB – “Data source associated with the call detail recording (CDR) database” – for now.

CDRDB Data Source

Click OK, and then Next. If prompted for credentials, enter your administrative login & password.

Next you’ll see the “Design a Query” dialog. Here’s where you build up a SQL query using information from the Monitoring data source. Check the options you want in the Database View list, and modify the fields in the Selected Fields list as needed.

(There are many more procedures than I could describe here. Suffice to say that you’ll need a little SQL knowledge to properly build your query.)

Example SQL query code from the "Sample Lync Persistent Chat Archive Report"

Example SQL query code from the “Sample Lync Persistent Chat Archive Report

Click Next. On the “Arrange Fields” screen, drag and drop your fields into rows & columns for an orderly view. Click Next again for layouts and styles (not critical in my eyes, but you may want to style your reports). Click Finish.

4. Test and Upload Your New Custom Report

Afterward, click the Run button at top left to run the report. Doing this now means you can verify the report works as desired, and there’s no errors. If there are, use the Edit button to modify the report’s fields, parameters, etc.

When your custom report is ready, click Save. Place it directly in the Reports folder on your Monitoring Server. (If you don’t see it right away, look under “Recent Sites and Servers”). Now you should see it in your Skype for Business/Lync Reports list!

You can also upload reports from within Reporting Services, using the “Upload File” button.


Which is great, because others have created custom Monitoring Reports already!

Created a Custom Monitoring Report? Add it to the Community Report Repository

Matt Landis collected Monitoring & Archiving Reports in a Community Report Repository:
Skype for Business (Lync) Community Report Repository – Microsoft UC Report

Great if you want direct examples of custom reports. Or if these already do what you’re looking for.

Have you created a custom Monitoring Report? If so, what was the function you wanted? Please comment or email. If the standard reports work fine for you, please share what you use them for too.

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Call for Renaming: Let’s Refer to Consumer-Grade Skype as SkypeC

Skype for Business

If you’ve read almost anything about Skype for Business, you’ve run into a moment of confusion.

You read a certain paragraph, and suddenly think, “Wait, was he referring to Skype for Business, or regular Skype?”

Despite the “for Business,” many blog posts, news articles & so on are referring to the new Skype for Business as just “Skype”. This breeds an immediate and (in my mind) serious confusion.

That’s why I’m using today’s post to call for a new naming convention for consumer-grade Skype.

SkypeC for Consumer

From now on, let’s differentiate between the two products like this.

1. Skype (Consumer Version) is henceforth referred to as “SkypeC“.

Simple and clear. SkypeC = “Skype Consumer”. That’s too many syllables for a quick reference though, so abbreviating it down to “SkypeC” keeps it fast.

Amazingly, this does already exist as a Twitter hashtag – #SkypeC. However, it hasn’t been in regular use for a couple years now. It’s time to resume use. I’ll do so when posting to Twitter from now on. You are welcome to do the same, of course!

2. Skype for Business, if abbreviated, is referred to as “Skype4B“.

This is already used as a Twitter hashtag: Hashtag #Skype4B
I’ve used the abbreviation myself for weeks now. You can even refer to this blog as “The Skype4B Insider”.

Why would we need this though? Why not just stick with “Skype”? As I’ll clarify below, confusion is brewing…there’s a need for clarity.

The Need for Better Naming Convention

Skype. Skype for Business. Similar names, similar features, similar interfaces.

While one is intended for consumer & one for business, that line has blurred for years. How many of us used consumer-grade Skype in the office at one point or another? Thousands have over the past 5 years. I sure did.

Now Skype for Business presents a clearly business-focused product. Will everyone switch? No. So we’ll still have both consumer Skype (SkypeC) and Skype for Business in use around offices. Simultaneously.

This presents not only an adoption roadblock, but a more disruptive concern.

The Concern: Version Confusion

Let’s say you’re in the office one day, and a colleague requests a Skype call. You have Skype for Business, but they don’t. Maybe that department is slow on upgrades, or this person is just comfortable with SkypeC.

Now, these two should communicate just fine, if set up properly. IMs, calls, and even video should work.

But they don’t use the same codecs. They have different security requirements. They have different feature sets. If a Skype for Business user tries to add a whiteboard or invite more people into an Online Meeting, well, you’re in trouble.

The GetApp Lab Blog has a good write-up on differences between Skype and Skype for Business: Skype vs Skype for Business: What’s the Difference? – GetApp Lab

Examples of SkypeC/Skype4B Confusion

While the SkypeC/Skype for Business confusion has gone on for most of 2015, what really spurred me on this idea was the recent announcement of Office 2016.

One of Office 2016’s new features is having Skype for Business bundled in. All the flagship apps – Word, Excel, PowerPoint – will access Skype for Business natively. Reading articles about this though, you’d almost swear they don’t mean Skype for Business. They mean consumer-grade Skype.

Why? Because they don’t clarify the version.

Here’s two examples of said confusion:
Five reasons Microsoft Office 2016 is better than Google Docs, and three reasons it isn’t – CNET
“Microsoft also added integrations with its search engine Bing and messaging and video-calling app Skype.”
At a glance you’d think this means consumer-grade Skype, not Skype for Business. But it doesn’t.

Microsoft Office 2016 Adds Built-In Skype, Collaboration Tools – BloombergBusiness
“Microsoft Corp.’s new Office software will incorporate Internet-connected features such as Skype and the Cortana digital assistant in both its cloud and packaged versions…”
Again, just labeling it as ‘Skype’ and not clarifying.

I’m not criticizing the authors of these pieces. They’re doing what they need to, with the tools they have. I’m only referencing the articles as evidence of the need for clarity.

What Do You Think? Start Calling Consumer Skype “SkypeC”?

I didn’t create the #Skype4B Twitter hashtag. It came into being by consensus as an easy-to-understand abbreviation. That’s why I like using it.

I think “SkypeC” works as another easy-to-understand abbreviation. With 1 letter we instantly know which version we’re talking about. Both in the written word and when speaking.

Maybe in the future, SkypeC and Skype4B will merge to a greater degree. Maybe we won’t need to differentiate between versions then. For now though, I think differentiating adds needed clarity.

Do you think SkypeC is useful? Is it necessary or unnecessary? Please comment or email your thoughts.  I really want to hear some feedback on this one!



Upgrading to Office 2016? Prepare to Reinstall Skype for Business

Office 365, Skype for Business

Office 2016 has been released! Office 365 users can now download & install the latest version of Office. New apps (including Skype for Business), refinements to existing apps, and new co-authoring features abound.

There’s an excellent review of the Office 2016 suite at Microsoft Office 2016 Review – The Verge

Now, every new version has its quirks & issues. This time though, we have an issue that affects Skype for Business.

If you already run Skype for Business before installing Office 2016…Office 2016 will break it.

Why Office 2016 Attacks Your Current Skype for Business Client

Depending on your current version of Office, or certain Microsoft apps related to it, you may see an error when you install Office 2016.
“We need to remove some older apps” error – Office Support

The error triggers if certain Office 2013 components are already installed on your computer: certain versions of Visio, Project, SharePoint Designer, the OneDrive for Business client…and the Skype for Business client. These versions are viewed as “old” by Office 2016 and thus incompatible.

We’ll focus on Skype for Business here (obviously). In Skype4B’s case, Office 2016 may display an error like the one you see here:

Older Apps - Office 2016

Image courtesy of Office Support.

Or it may just remove your Skype for Business client!

Harry John has some additional information on the error, and his support efforts with Microsoft, on his blog:
Office 2016 Install – “We need to remove some older apps” –

Thanks to quick reporting from people like Harry, Microsoft IS aware of this issue & has documented it. However at this time, they can only offer a workaround.

How to Install Office 2016 and Get Skype for Business Back

Microsoft has put up two URLs documenting this error, and their workaround:
Skype for Business is removed when you upgrade to Office 2016 – Microsoft Support
Skype for Business is removed when you upgrade to Office 2016 – Office365 Community

It’s the same on both pages. The workaround involves installing a fresh, updated copy of the Skype for Business client after Office 2016 finishes installing. Versions are found at either of above URLs, listed by language.

(I downloaded the English version copy. Curiously, it’s named as a retail copy. It also reports as 32-bit.)

Essentially, this means letting Office 2016 mangle your Skype for Business, wipe it out, and then start fresh.

Not Perfect, But It Works (For Now)

I couldn’t ascertain that the same issue occurs with the Office 2016 Desktop version yet. Though it’s entirely possible the same error will occur, since its bundled Skype for Business client is newer than the one we’ve used for months.

If any of you plan to install Office 2016 Desktop, please share your experience in a comment or email. (Hopefully it’s a pleasant one!)


Survey: Skype for Business Issues while Running Windows 10

Skype for Business

Last week, Microsoft released a security update for the Skype for Business 2015 client.
MS15-097: Description of the security update for Microsoft Lync 2013 (Skype for Business): September 8, 2015 – Microsoft Support

Make sure you have all prior security updates installed before installing this one! They are linked on the same page, under “More Information.”

I saw a mention of this on Twitter, right after a ZDNet announcement about troubleshooting Windows 10 problems.

Which led me to talking with co-workers. After hearing some of their newer stories, it was time to blog.

I currently run Skype for Business on Windows 8.1. Haven’t switched to Windows 10 yet, but I’m sure it’s coming soon. Many of our customers are in the process of switching to Windows 10 now. We anticipate about half of them will move within the next 6 months.

Like ZDNet, we’re starting to see issues.

Windows 10 vs. Skype for Business?

Swords image courtesy of anankkml at

The Skype4B Issues Appearing on Windows 10

Not all our customers use Skype for Business. Of those that do, most users report no problems. Only a handful have called to report some issue, like:

  • Skype for Business hangs on the load screen
  • Skype for Business client loads, but immediately crashes
  • Random “Microsoft Lync has stopped working” error messages

What we’re finding is that, for a very few users running Skype for Business on Windows 10, the OS was actually the culprit!

In one case, Cortana prevented Skype for Business from receiving calls. The user didn’t need Cortana, so we disabled it (her?). Skype for Business commenced proper operation after a reboot.

Now, these are both Microsoft software applications. They should get along, right?

It appears not. (To some degree at least.) So, with this in mind, let’s do something a little different this week.

Having Skype for Business Issues on Windows 10? Please Vote in Our Survey

I’d like to request all of our readers respond to this survey:

This poll is closed! Poll activity:
start_date 2015-09-16 10:25:00
end_date 2015-09-30 10:29:00
Poll Results:
What kind of issues do you see while running Skype for Business 2015 on Windows 10?

Just a few questions. If you’re experiencing something different, please use the “Other” field.

Our reasoning for the survey is twofold. One, if we can identify bugs in communications between Skype for Business and Windows 10, we’ll submit the data (anonymized of course) to Microsoft Support.

Two, the more we know about real-world Windows 10 issues currently popping up, the more we can study them. Try to replicate them in our datacenter. Figure out solutions.

The survey will run until September 30th. After that, I’ll compile the results and bring them to the rest of our Lync/Skype team. Any & all observations reached will go up on this blog.

I’d also appreciate if you share this post on social media. The more respondents we have, the more real-world data we can compare. I’ve added simple sharing buttons to the bottom of this post.

Thank you for participating! If you have questions, please feel free to comment or email me.

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    The Lync Insider/Skype4B Insider is a blog about the technology we use to communicate in business today. Here we talk about Microsoft's Skype for Business Server 2015, Lync Server 2013, Unified Communications, Voice over IP and related technologies like Exchange Server. Written by Chris W., MCSE in Communication and PlanetMagpie IT Consulting's Tech Writer.
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