While running a test on our Lync Conferencing, I came across a curious little error.
The Meeting itself worked fine (of course!). Logging into it from Internet Explorer, no problem. Logging in on Chrome? Hmmm. Well, the computer downloaded the Lync Web App plugin. But I see no prompt saying it’s been installed.
I check the computer’s Event Viewer – Lync Web App Plugin installed successfully. Yet Chrome didn’t give me a prompt?
I switched to Firefox. Even re-downloaded & re-installed the Lync Web App plugin. It sweeps right through install and brings up the Lync Meeting.
So no issues with the Lync Web App plugin itself, right? We have some sort of issue with the Google Chrome browser.
When I commented on this to my co-worker, he mentioned a Microsoft Update made within the December 2014 Cumulative Update. Here’s the details:
“Google Chrome no longer supports Lync Web App” message when you join a Lync meeting by using Google Chrome – Microsoft Support
Evidently, after you install the December 2014 Cumulative Update, you can see this error in Chrome when you try to load Lync Web App:
You can still copy the meeting URL and switch to another browser.
Microsoft also recommends installing an additional update from December 31 (direct download page) as a fix.
However, I did not see this message at all. Lync Web App would not come up in Chrome, yet I see no indication of why on the Meeting page.
Under “More Information” there’s a link to the Chromium Blog from late last year. The post linked talks about Google removing NPAPI plugin support. The Final Countdown for NPAPI – Chromium Blog
What Does NPAPI Have to Do with Lync Web App?
Here’s the overview on NPAPI: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NPAPI
It’s an old plugin architecture, used for over a decade now, and in many forms. You’ll find NPAPI plugins in use for Java, Flash, Google’s own Google Earth…and Microsoft Silverlight.
Yes, the same Silverlight you need to run Lync Web App.
The Google announcement stated that in its April 2015 Chrome release (version 42), NPAPI support in Chrome is disabled by default. It can be reactivated, but in September 2015 NPAPI support goes away permanently.
I went back & checked. Sure enough, I had Chrome 42 running. That was why I couldn’t load Lync Web App in Chrome…they don’t like each other anymore!
Would an HTML5 Lync Web App Resolve This?
Google essentially made an executive decision against NPAPI and in favor of HTML5. Now that is their right; HTML5 is a promising technology. And given that they made the original announcement in late 2013, they did give lots of notice so vendors could change their plugins.
Microsoft has at least issued a server-side fix to help. If you’re a Lync administrator, make sure you have the December 31st Update installed.
But a move from NPAPI toward HTML5 raises another question. What about Skype for Business’ web app? Would IT work in Chrome when it’s here?
What about Skype for Business Web App?
I read through some updated documentation about the Lync/Skype for Business Web App. I wanted to see if Microsoft plans an HTML5 version of its plugin.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t find much. One may be in the works – there’s this mention on the Skype Blog of a “Skype for Web” launched in beta November 2014. But for now the documentation only contains updates discussing the name change & the new Skype-integrated features.
I did find a list of supported platforms though: https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/gg425820%28v=ocs.15%29.aspx
(The last modified date is April 13th. I’d have thought that meant they updated it to mention Windows Server 2012, and up-to-date version numbers on the browsers…)
Anyway, the important point: The “32-bit Version of Chrome 18.x” column says NO on Lync/Skype for Business Web App support, while the Internet Explorer 11 and “32-bit Version of Firefox 12.x” columns say YES.
Chrome Does Not Like Lync/Skype for Business Web App. Plan Accordingly.
Judging by the recent comments on the Chromium Blog post, I’m not the only one who’s not too happy with Google over this. Deprecating support for a widely-used plugin is their right, and it’s not hard to see why.
That said, this essentially means we have to tell clients not to use Chrome in the office. It doesn’t support Silverlight, Java, Flash, etc. as of last month. Anyone joining their Lync Meetings must be informed of this too – if they normally use Chrome, and try to join a Lync Meeting with Lync Web App? They’ll hit a snag.
What’s your opinion on Google deprecating support for NPAPI plugins? Please comment or email. And don’t forget to join us again next week!
P.S. – We’re making some changes on the blog to welcome in Skype for Business. I want to hear everyone’s thoughts as the changes roll out.