Use Lync Meetings to Control PCs Remotely

Chances are you’ve used LogMeIn at some point. The remote-login software made it easy to provide remote support and find out what you needed from someone else’s PC.

Remote Login via LyncIn January, LogMeIn increased their fees–dropping their free option in favor of making all users pay. A choice which backfired into a lot of angry users ceasing to use it.

In the past, we too used LogMeIn for remote support. Taking control of a client’s PC and troubleshooting their issues, while talking with them on the phone to explain our actions and receive feedback. The problem was, with so many clients requiring remote access for support? We’d need to switch to the highest LogMeIn subscription option. And that gets expensive fast!

For a while, we paid for a LogMeIn subscription. It allowed us to continue with remote support uninterrupted…while we investigated alternatives.

LogMeIn Alternatives: Teamviewer, VNC…Lync?

Other remote access solutions do exist: Teamviewer, Chrome Remote Desktop, VNC, etc. We tried out a couple. But they didn’t quite meet our needs, or felt clunky.

While investigating these alternatives, one of the IT team members noticed something. He saw that signing into a Lync Meeting is similar to the LogMeIn remote login process. And a Lync Meeting allows for sharing – sharing applications, whiteboards, even desktops.

Could we use Lync Server as a LogMeIn alternative? If it could facilitate remote support, we wouldn’t need a solution like LogMeIn at all!

We did some research and some testing. It turns out that, while the process is a little more complicated than LogMeIn or Teamviewer…it DOES work. Remote access through Lync Server is possible.

Here’s how.

How to Use Lync Server for Remote Login

Step 1: Create a Lync Meeting
Click “Meet Now” in Lync. (It’s under the Settings menu; click the arrow next to the gear.)
Mouse over “Invite More People”, and then click ACTIONS in the window.

Step 2: Invite a User to the Meeting
In the Meeting window, click “Invite by Email”.
Enter the email address of the user you want to connect to, and send the message. Wait for them to accept the invitation.
You may need to invite them in from the lobby if they are using Lync Attendee (i.e. they do not have Lync 2010 or 2013 installed).

Step 3: Have the User Present
Once the user enters the Lync Meeting:
Direct them to hover their mouse over the “Present” icon (fourth from the left in the lower-left corner)
Direct them to click Desktop in the popup window.
Accept their invitation to present.

Step 4: Request Control
Now the user is presenting their desktop. You should see it, but you can’t control it yet.
Click the “Request Control” button.
If necessary, direct the user to click Yes.

You now have remote control of the user’s desktop!

Perform whatever support tasks are necessary. Be aware that, just like with LogMeIn, the user can see what you’re doing.

Step 5: Disconnect Remote Control
When you’re done, click the “Release Control” button to release your control of the user’s PC.
Direct them to click the “Stop Presenting” button.
End the meeting.
——

Cautions

  • This may not work 100% in all situations. LogMeIn doesn’t work 100% either, so that’s not really a limitation. I just want you to be aware.
  • Our office uses a Lync Server 2013 Standard installation, with Edge Server and Reverse Proxy. I see no reason why it wouldn’t work for Enterprise Edition either. But as with all software implementations, your results may vary depending on configuration. (If you do experience an issue, please send it to me! I’d love to hear about it.)
  • This remote login method was NOT tested on all phones & tablets, so I can’t guarantee it’ll work there either. I was able to access an iPad remotely, which had Lync installed.

Test Lync as a Remote Access Option – and Tell Us About It!

If you have Lync Server 2013, you should be able to use this method in a remote support situation. Without disabling any existing remote access solutions.

Try it out! And if you do, please tell us how it worked. Please comment below or email me.

Lync Server as an Alternative to LogMeIn
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11 thoughts on “Lync Server as an Alternative to LogMeIn

  • June 12, 2014 at 5:47 am
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    Hi – hope this doesn’t come across as advertising goop! This was how we were using Lync to do remote access too – but I wasn’t 100% happy with it. I liked using Lync but thought the process was too complicated for the end-users..many of whom are not Lync experts. So I wrote a little application to help with that – Lync AutoAssist. You can download it free from http://autoassist.thoughtstuff.co.uk/. It uses Lync, but makes it super-easy for IT admins to reach out and start a desktop share on the user’s machine. All the user has to do is Accept it!

    Thanks,

    -tom

    Reply
    • June 12, 2014 at 7:26 am
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      Tom,
      You beat me to it! I was going to mention AutoAssist in a separate post very soon. Still will, but I’m happy you commented here too.

      Reply
  • June 12, 2014 at 4:56 pm
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    Chris & Tom,
    We have used Lync in a limited capacity to provide remote support to our customers. How would AutoAssist work when the end-user does not have Lync? Or, would it work in that type of scenario?
    Thanks,
    Jay

    Reply
  • June 13, 2014 at 1:28 pm
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    The other back draw to Lync remote desktop control is no access to administrative controls like Networking for example, just a black box.

    Reply
  • June 14, 2014 at 10:47 pm
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    Good article. One thing to keep in mind is that you can’t remotely control priveledged apps with Lync. Unfortunately this becomes an obstacle for remote tech support in some cases.

    Reply
  • June 17, 2014 at 6:43 am
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    Absolutely Love Lync and it rocks , however

    even autoassist like tools cannot replace the privileged apps and unattended control workloads that a true remote control app provides

    most of the time I used logmein was for unattended access

    Reply
  • June 17, 2014 at 2:55 pm
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    You can take this a step further, as I have done.. Using the API I have created a “BOT” that automatically accepts the request for a desktop share, an then automatically makes you a presenter.

    To make things a little more secure, it uses Google Authenticator API to ensure only the authenticated get in.

    Remote connection is a tiny subset of it’s toolset. All programmed using the API and VB.Net

    Reply
  • June 18, 2014 at 2:41 pm
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    One issue I’ve run into is bandwidth. Our location has very limited bandwidth and Lync uses MUCH more bandwidth than LogMeIn. This can make remote control very slow on a 1Mb upload speed connection.

    Reply
  • January 23, 2015 at 8:37 am
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    A note, this option does not allow for remote access/control of an unattended machine, such as a server. With LogMeIn, you can set up an account on client network that then allows you to remote to their servers and manage server side applications, such as Exchange or SharePoint.

    Reply
  • April 21, 2015 at 10:26 am
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    One workaround for running apps with elevated permissions I’ve discovered works with GoToMeeting: Start the Lync/GTM session on customer’s workstation, then have the customer run a remote desktop session on the server in question logged on as administrator.

    Reply

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