Last month I blogged about the new Skype for Business on Mac preview program. I got into the testing beta, and received the Stage 1 Meetings client a short time ago.
Today I document Stage 1 of my testing to date. So far, the new Mac client is shaping up as a MUCH better app than Lync for Mac.
Following the criteria I set last month, here are my testing observations.
Starting the Test
For this and future tests of the Skype for Business Mac Client Meetings Experience, I used an older iMac desktop (still running El Capitan). The computer has 4GB of RAM and a 500GB hard drive. It connects to the Internet via Wi-Fi.
In my previous post I noted three things I saw in the Mac Preview content:
- No toolbar with Present options along the bottom
- Mac uses the Picture-in-Picture viewing mode
- Borderless Meeting display
I quickly found that 2 and 3 are accurate. 1 was a little off; there is a Present option, but it’s limited. Explanation below.
Installation took only a moment. Download the preview client .app file and click to install. I was pleased to see an update notice right away: Microsoft had pushed out a couple of new versions just in the few days between my download and the install!
Login requires the same information as any other Skype4B client: username, password, and (depending on your server setup) domain. I needed to enter my domain in the following format: “DOMAINNAME\chris.williams.”
Another helpful thing I noticed: This Mac has the Lync for Mac client installed. Once I finished my test, I shut down the preview client and opened Lync for Mac. Installing the Skype for Business Preview client did not affect the Lync client.
Stage 1 is focused on Meetings. Joining them, scheduling them, voice & video, and content sharing. My test results, then, consisted of running through the preview client and verifying how much function I had for each Meetings aspect.
Scheduling: I was not able to schedule a meeting from the client. But I was able to join a scheduled meeting by clicking it.
I’m also able to adjust my Presence status, which I didn’t expect to have just yet.
I was also able to invite people into the meeting once created.
Meet Now: I had a co-worker initiate a Meet Now & invite me. He did so, but I didn’t see any notice on the Mac. I did hear my everyday computer – which also has Skype for Business installed – signaling me that I had a Meet Now invite.
*Note: Ringing/showing invites to the most recent login is typical Skype4B behavior. In this case it did not occur. That may be due to the Mac client’s preview status. I’d assume as much anyway.
Voice and Video: Speaking in a Meeting on the Preview was no different than voice on my regular computer. Same with video – in fact, to my clearly-not-a-designer’s eye, the video looked sharper on the Mac than my PC!
See below for quality results.
Content Sharing: I could present my Desktop. However, I found no other present options in the menu. No big surprise; I expect these to trickle in between Stage 2 and 3.
Okay, Meetings do work. How about their quality? A Skype Meeting is no good if you can’t see video, or the call drops randomly.
Video: No problems here. Video renders smooth and clear–like you’d expect on a Mac. Here’s a capture from my video feed.
Responsiveness: Comparable to my regular computer. Which itself is encouraging, since my regular computer has better specs than the test Mac. Since this is a Mac-only version of the Preview, I could not test it on other devices. (Come to think of it, I haven’t received a download for the iOS preview client yet…)
Voice Quality: Comparable to my regular calls. I conducted a test call with a co-worker and a customer, neither of whom knew I was calling from a different computer.
Since this is a Stage 1 client, we expect plenty of limitations. And as expected, I had absolutely no access to Contacts or the Phone. But they are in the client window already. You see this screen if you click them:
Also, I did not see a screen sharing option. According to the Release Notes linked above, we should be able to “Share your screen in the meeting.” But I did not have the option. Maybe it wasn’t developed enough for Stage 1? I’ll monitor the updates in case Microsoft slips it in before Stage 2.
Test Results: A Strong Foundation for the Rest
The new Meetings Preview client has its limits. It’s not usable as a Lync for Mac replacement yet. But it signifies a strong foundation on which to add more functionality.
Stage 2 of the Mac Preview, Messaging & Contact Lists, is expected in about 4 weeks. I’ll upgrade the preview client once we get it and do another test.
Mac users! What would you say is your biggest frustration with Lync on Mac? Please comment or email your thoughts. As the preview proceeds, I’d like to try testing common issues.
Join us again next week!