Browsing the archives for the configuration tag.

How to Set On-Hold Music in Skype for Business

Skype for Business

Today we have a very important how-to. A critical service is discussed. I know you’ve all been waiting to learn…

…how to set your “on hold” music.

See? Told you it was important.

In all seriousness, “on hold” music isn’t a critical service to Lync/Skype for Business. But Music On Hold is useful for a good customer experience. Which is, in fact, where the idea came from.

What Brought This On? The Customer Has Needs!

One of our newer customers made some changes to their Lync Server 2013 system. Among other changes, they added a new phone number for their Sales department. Naturally, they wanted this number to have hold music to keep callers on the line.

They were smart and looked into what was needed for hold music; when they called, they asked about Music On Hold. But they weren’t sure if Music On Hold (or “MOH”) was enabled for the new line or not. So they asked us.

Good thing, too…it wasn’t. Call Park wasn’t active.

Music On Hold in Lync/Skype4B: The Background

Still on hold...

Still on hold…

Music On Hold/MOH is part of the Call Park function. It’s a longstanding component of Lync, around since Lync 2010, happily doing its job in the background.

(Quick Overview: Call Park lets Enterprise Voice users put a call on hold [“park it”], and either retrieve it from another phone or forward it to another user. All the while, Music On Hold plays, getting a song stuck in the caller’s head for the rest of the day.)

You’ll find details on Call Park in Skype for Business here: Plan for Call Park in Skype for Business 2015 – Skype for Business TechNet

Call Park comes with Enterprise Voice, and should be activated when Enterprise Voice is set up. However, the Music On Hold may not be pre-set. If not, you’ll need to enable it.

There are 2 ways to enable Music On Hold. One at the client-level, one at the policy level.

  1. In the Lync/Skype client, click Options. Under “Ringtones and Sounds” you should see an option to “Play music on hold”. If you’re able to check the box, do so and click the Browse button to select a music file. Click OK.
  2. If “Play music on hold” is grayed out, the Lync/Skype4B administrator has designated this to occur through a Client Policy.

I prefer Method 2 anyway. It works for all users (and can be adapted for Response Group members). While I do prefer Management Shell for admin tasks, the fastest way to enable & set Music On Hold is through PowerShell.

How to Set Music On Hold

We have three PowerShell cmdlets for you today. These three and a music file are all you need.

Set-CSClientPolicy Global -EnableClientMusicOnHold:$TRUE

–This enables Music On Hold across all users. (Our customer had this set to FALSE and didn’t know it!)

$a = Get-Content -ReadCount 0 -Encoding byte “C:\MoHFiles\happymusic.wma”

–This retrieves the music file (notice the format; we’ll talk more about that in a moment), and assigns the file to the $a variable.

Set-CsCallParkServiceMusicOnHoldFile -Service ApplicationServer:entvoice01.yourdomain.com -Content $a

–This assigns the $a variable (referencing the happymusic.wma file) to Music On Hold for the YourDomain.com domain’s Enterprise Voice pool. Use the FQDN of the server where Call Park (Enterprise Voice) is running.

There are additional parameters available, of course. Confirmation prompts & the like. Full cmdlet details are here: Set-CsCallParkServiceMusicOnHoldFile Cmdlet – Skype for Business TechNet

Matt Landis also has an awesome Q&A blog post on MOH:
Questions About Microsoft Lync Server and Music on Hold – Microsoft UC Report
It targets Lync Server, but from what I can tell, the information still applies to Skype for Business for the most part.

FORMAT: The recommended format for Music On Hold files is “Media Audio 9, 44 kHz, 16 bits, Mono, CBR, 32 kbps.” I’ve seen references to using .wma or .wav. Either file type is probably fine.

To create the music file or convert it to the recommended format, you can use Microsoft’s Expression Encoder 4, or another audio tool like Audacity.

Where Should I Get Music for MOH?

Now here’s the trick, right?

You could always convert an MP3 of your favorite song. But you’d have copyright issues to deal with right away. (Besides, your customers may not share your musical tastes.)

The rest of us are left hunting for a royalty-free, or cheap-to-buy, music option. Let me help you with that.
Makerbook.net – Audio

Makerbook.net is a directory of audio resources. It’s a phenomenal resource for creative work – they have resources for photos, icons, fonts, video – and audio tracks.

I’ve gone through all of the sites on this list. My favorites are Bensound and the Vimeo.com Music Store. The free tracks are either fun or relaxing. The paid tracks are good-quality. Most are perfectly suitable for Music On Hold.

Is Your Music On Hold Enabled?

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the original Music On Hold blog post:
Music On Hold for Lync Clients – Ken’s Unified Communications Blog.

Written back in October of 2010, it remains one of the most-linked-to posts on MOH, period. Its cmdlet references are 2 versions old, so be careful there. But otherwise, it’s an excellent starting point for the Music On Hold function.

Have you installed Skype for Business Server 2015 yet? If so, please comment or email on your experience. I’d like to collect a group of Skype4B experiences & wrestle some good data out of it (anonymously, of course).

Join us back here next week for more Skype for Business topics!

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Skype4B Features: Call Via Work

Skype for Business, Voice over IP

The biggest change in Skype for Business 2015 from Lync Server 2013 is the new user interface. Familiar to Skype users; minor learning curve for Lync users.

However, that’s not the only thing that’s new. We’ve already talked about integration with the Skype Directory…and there’s more.

This post is the first in a new post series on Skype for Business’ new features. We’re starting with a big one – Call Via Work.

Calling from...work?

What Call Via Work Is

Call Via Work replaces Lync’s Remote Call Control (RCC). I didn’t do too much with RCC, but Call Via Work intrigues me.

Essentially, Call Via Work enables integration between Skype for Business and a PBX phone system. Calls begun in Skype for Business ring a PBX phone – yours and the other party’s.

Why would you want to do that? A very good question. We’ll see what we can determine for an answer. But first, let’s talk about how Call Via Work, er, works.

How it Works

Call Via Work is part of Skype for Business’ Enterprise Voice role. It works by “bridging” two calls together into one.

  1. Let’s say Bob wants to call Sharon, one of his customers. He has her added as a contact in Skype for Business. Sharon uses a PBX phone system at her office. Bob also has a PBX phone available.
  2. He clicks her contact & selects the phone icon. The client initiates a call request to the Skype for Business Server.
  3. The server’s Mediation Server role sends a call to Bob’s phone. Caller ID shows a special number, called a “Global Phone Number”, so Bob knows this is not someone else calling. He picks up the phone.
  4. Sharon receives the call on her PBX phone. Skype for Business “bridges” the two calls.
  5. Bob and Sharon start talking normally. Aside from Bob having to pick up the phone *after* initiating the call, everything proceeds like a normal phone call.

Uses of Call Via Work

Obviously, a legacy PBX system is involved when using Call Via Work. In fact, not only does Call Via Work enable calls to PBX phones, but it also gives PBX users:

  • Click-to-call (Audio going through the PBX phone)
  • IM integration, Presence & user search. A TechNet piece cites as example, adding audio to an IM session, with the audio coming through PBX phones.
  • The ability to add IM, application sharing, and file transfer to a Call Via Work call.
  • One-click Meeting join (which I’d say is the most valuable capability, after voice calls)

It isn’t quite the full Lync/Skype4B experience. But it’s more than an old PBX has by default.

So what’s the best use of Call Via Work? I can think of two.

  1. Easier communication with customers/partners who still use a PBX.
  2. Transition Aid from an on-site PBX to Skype for Business. More on this later.

However, there’s a lot users need to know before you implement Call Via Work. Much of which involves its limitations.

What Users Need to Know

Call Via Work is a stealth function. It’s meant to do a job quietly, without messages or warnings. But users will need to know some things about it–otherwise it might cause confusion and disrupt calls.

What Call Via Work does. While the process is intended as transparent, users should still know what’s going on with their PBX calls. I wrote this post to help with exactly that. (Don’t forget to share it around!)

The Global Number. When you initiate a call using Call Via Work, Skype for Business shows the person called a certain number, which the administrator sets.

(The process for setting a Global Number is documented under “Deploy Call Via Work” here.)

This means a user’s direct number WILL NOT DISPLAY. Users must know the number, and that it will display in place of their own, so nobody’s left confused after a Call Via Work call.

Finally, Limitations. Yes, Call Via Work has limitations. Many of them in fact:

  • If a Call Via Work user has set up Call Forwarding to the Global Number, and someone tries to invite them to a Meeting by phone number, the invitation won’t reach them. The forwarding blocks it. Solution: Tell users to invite Meeting participants by name.
  • E-911 and malicious call tracing are NOT available during Call Via Work calls.
  • Call Via Work users can’t use Delegation, Team Call, or Response Groups. (Serious drawback in my book.)
  • Call Via Work users can’t record a Meeting, mute a call, hold or transfer the call, or use Call Park. (Ouch.)
  • Users can’t access PBX voicemail through Call Via Work.
  • Call Via Work users can’t escalate a voice call to a Meeting with video/whiteboards/PowerPoint.
  • You can’t add more people to a call when using Call Via Work. It’s just you two.
  • No support for deskphone pairing or VDI plugin pairing.
  • If you make or answer a call using your PBX phone (not the Skype for Business window), you won’t have a log of the call.
  • And finally – if your PBX system does not support “REFER with Replaces”, you’ll see this happen. While on a Call Via Work call, if you transfer the call from the PBX Phone, the call window will remain on your Skype for Business window. If you close the call window, the call between the transfer target and the transferee ends.

Lot of limitations users need to be aware of.

Deployment Prerequisites

Enabling Call Via Work
In order to deploy Call Via Work, you must:

  • Deploy a Mediation Server and an IP-PBX gateway.
  • Ensure any user enabled for Call Via Work has Direct Inward Dialing (DID) on their phone.
  • Enable Call Via Work users for Enterprise Voice.
  • Configure their Skype for Business DID number to match their PBX phone’s DID number.
  • Select “Automatic Configuration” in the users’ Skype for Business client’s Advanced Connections options. This is under the Personal menu in Options, by clicking the “Advanced” button.
  • Enable Call Forwarding and Simultaneous Ring for every Call Via Work user.
  • Enable Dial-In Conferencing and Conferencing Dial-Out for every Call Via Work user.
  • Disable Delegation, Team Call and Response Groups for every Call Via Work user.

Final Thoughts

So why WOULD you want to use Call Via Work?

I think Call Via Work is very useful in a transition environment: Going from PBX to Skype for Business Enterprise Voice.
–It allows you to continue using existing hardware.
–It slows the training schedule.
–You have time to notify any customers or partners who might be affected. Without ruining your ability to call them!

However, for the long-term, I suggest enabling Call via Work only for those people who need it. Such people include sales staff calling businesses you know use PBX phone systems, legacy hardware/software testers, etc.

Because of its limitations on the user’s Skype4B call capabilities, Call via Work can hinder some communications. It’s useful, definitely. But it comes at a price.

If you’d like to read more about Call Via Work, the Mastering Lync Blog has a good rundown too: Call Via Work – Mastering Lync.

Do you use Call Via Work in the office? Planning to? What’s your experience with it? Please comment or email. And join us again next week!

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How to (Re-)Enable Skype Directory Search in the Skype for Business Client

Skype for Business

We have Skype for Business Server 2015 up & running in the office! Testing is proceeding apace. Today’s post comes from the first thing I noticed.

One of the new features is integration with the Skype Directory. You can now add Skype users into your Skype for Business client. All it takes is a search.

Except my searches didn’t yield any Skype Directory results. Just the usual “My Contacts” and “Chat Rooms”.

I asked Larry about this. He confirmed that Skype is listed in our SIP Federated Providers. The Skype for Business Server installation went (fairly) smoothly. Edge services are working. What gives?

Skype? Hello, Can You Hear Me?

There’s a note on this TechNet page, as follows:

If Skype for Business Server is already configured to connect with Windows Messenger by using Public Instant Messaging Connectivity (PIC), your deployment is already configured for Skype connectivity. The only change you may want to consider is to rename your existing Messenger PIC entry as Skype.

Apparently our pre-existing configuration to federate with Windows Messenger should be enough. But it’s not. Skype Connectivity requires a little more work to behave properly.

After consulting TechNet further, and a few of our fellow IT bloggers, we made the following changes.

How to Re-Enable Skype Connectivity – IF You Have PIC Provisioned

Before anything else: Communication with public federated providers requires PIC (Public Instant-Messaging Connectivity) provisioning. If you’ve federated your Lync Server with providers like Yahoo or AOL already, PIC is provisioned.

The following instructions work ONLY if you already enabled PIC for your Lync Server, pre-Skype for Business upgrade.

  1. Step 1: Enable Skype-Skype Federation on your Edge Server. Open Topology Builder to access the Edge Server. You’re looking for the Enable Federation screen (like this).

    Enable Skype Federation

    Image courtesy of TechNet.

  2. Step 2: Verify that Ports 4443 between Front End/Edge, and Port 443 outbound on Edge are open & working. 4443 is the same port used by CMS; it should already be open, but check anyway. You’ll need to check your firewall for Port 443 outbound.
  3. Step 3: Remove and re-add Skype from the SIP Federated Providers list in Skype for Business Control Panel.
    • Click the Skype entry.
    • Click Edit -> Delete.
    • Click New -> Public Provider.
    • In the new provider window, enable these options.
      • Check the box for “Enable communications with this provider”
      • Provider Name: Skype
      • Access Edge service (FQDN): federation.messenger.msn.com
      • Default verification level: Select “Allow users to communicate with everyone using this provider”.
    • Click Commit.
  4. Step 4: Restart Front End and Edge. Very important! If you don’t restart the services on Front End and Edge, the Skype Directory remains inaccessible.
  5. Step 5: Log out & log back in on your Skype for Business client.

That’s all. The old “yank it out and redo it”.

skypedirenable

(Note: This can be done in PowerShell as well. However the cmdlet is long and cumbersome. You’ll find it in the cited pages below, if you prefer that route.)

If you don’t have any federation/PIC enabled, you have a few more steps to take. Please follow the full/”from scratch” steps listed on these pages:

The same search functionality is available in Skype for Business Online. I haven’t worked with this yet, so I’ll direct you to the TechNet and UC Guys posts linked above for the how-to.

After we re-entered Skype as a SIP Federated Provider – and restarted the servers – guess what? Skype Directory names flooded into my search results. Exactly as expected.

What Skype for Business Server feature would you like more information about? Please comment or email. I’ll keep all requests in mind while digging through the new server.

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Why You Need a Computer Without Lync 2013 Admin Tools to Run Skype for Business’ In-Place Upgrade

Lync Server 2013, Skype for Business

A few days ago, we cleared some time. Ready to test the new In-Place Upgrade by upgrading our in-house Lync Server 2013 to Skype for Business Server 2015.

(Details, once again: System is a single Lync Server 2013 Standard Edition with one Edge Server and a SIP Trunk for Enterprise Voice. SQL Server 2012 backend database.)

Almost immediately though, we hit a snag and had to stop. Reading our documentation, we came across a requirement that almost seemed to contradict the whole notion of an “In-Place” upgrade.

In-Place Upgrade Can’t Run on a Server with Lync Core Components or Admin Tools On It!

I’ll quote the TechNet page Upgrade to Skype for Business Server 2015 for an explanation.

Step 1: Install Administrator tools and download topology
Connect to computer in the topology that does not have Lync OCSCore or any other Lync components installed.

According to Microsoft, Lync 2013 Admin Tools cannot be installed on the Lync Server before Skype for Business In-Place Upgrade proceeds.

You’ll also find this referenced on other Lync blogs with Skype for Business Server install walkthroughs.

  1. Mark Vale’s Blog: Skype for Business Server In-Place Upgrade Step by Step. Under Front End Server Pre-Requisites, “A server or workstation without Lync 2013 Admin Tools installed.”
  2. Jaap Wesselius: Upgrade Lync 2013 to Skype for Business 2015 Step-by-Step. Under Upgrade Process, “It is not possible to install these on the existing Lync 2013 server, so a (temporary) server needs to be used. It is important that this server does not contain any Lync 2013 binaries.”
  3. Guy Bachar’s “Just a Lync Guy” Blog: Lync Server 2013 Standard to Skype for Business Server 2015 Standard In-place Upgrade (Offline Method). Under Step-by-Step Upgrade, “Connect to a computer which is part of the domain but does not have any Lync core components or admin tools installed on it.”

The important question: Why?

Image from Microsoft TechNet/Skype for Business.

Image from Microsoft TechNet/Skype for Business.

What is Microsoft up to with this snag?

We might have a partial answer in a related issue.

LRS Admin Tool Not Compatible with Skype for Business – The Old Version, Anyway

As it turns out, you can’t have the LRS Admin Tool running on the Lync Server either. According to the Plan to Upgrade to Skype for Business Server 2015 page:

Be sure to uninstall LRS Admin tool for Lync Server 2013 before running In-Place Upgrade. The LRS Admin Tool for Lync Server 2013 cannot coexist with Skype for Business Server 2015. After running In-Place Upgrade install the new LRS Admin tool, see Microsoft Lync Room System Administrative Web Portal for Skype for Business Server 2015.

So a new version of the LRS (Lync Room System) Admin Tool is available in Skype for Business. They want you to remove the old version first, to avoid conflicts. Okay. That makes sense.

Is this the case for the Lync 2013 Core Components/Admin Tools too? Another version conflict? Does Skype for Business’ new Administrative Tools conflict with Lync’s?

After some more digging, I determined this is indeed the case.

  1. Skype for Business’ Administration Tools need to replace the Lync 2013 Admin Tools, in order to begin In-Place Upgrade.
  2. If the Lync Admin Tools are NOT removed, you could end up with an error which halts In-Place Upgrade.

#2 is important. Take a look at this recent TechNet support thread: Upgrade to Skype for Business Server – TechNet Support Forums

Reply #10 contains some screenshots and a description of the error you’d hit with Core Components. The error text is as follows:
“The MSI OcsCore.msi returned error code 1603, log file location: C:\Users\LYNCADMIN\AppData\Local\Temp\OcsCore.msi-[2015_05_14][19_15_33].log”
(You’ll see different date & number stamps in the log filename.)

Reply #10 was able to fix this by using Revo Uninstaller on Lync’s Core Components…but was immediately faced with another installation error. Troublesome.

And seemingly avoidable, if you remove the Lync Core Components/Admin Tools first.

What We Recommend – Use a Fresh Server or Desktop for Installing Administrative Tools

But what if your Lync Server is a Standard Edition like ours? The Core Components are on the same server as the Front End Role – it’s rather hard to do an In-Place Upgrade like that!

The alternative (and what we’d recommend if you’re starting an In-Place Upgrade) is:
Don’t use a computer with Lync Core Components or Admin Tools on it.
Instead, use:

  • A fresh Windows Server (no Lync Server 2013 components installed) added to your domain, OR
  • A desktop already on the domain.

Not entirely sure why Microsoft couldn’t auto-remove Core Components right before installing Skype for Business Administration Tools. For whatever reason they opted not to.

But that’s why we have blogs like this one – to help the rest of us work with Lync, now Skype for Business, and its related tech.

Speaking of blogs, if you’re eager to do an In-Place Upgrade, I recommend reading all 3 of the above-referenced blog posts. Mark, Jaap and Guy all did a great job of laying out step-by-step walkthroughs.

Have you done a Skype for Business In-Place Upgrade? How did it go? Please comment or email me your experience. Every installation is unique; I’d love to hear what happened for yours.

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Licensing for Skype for Business 2015: The Details

Skype for Business

Back in November I asked the question, “Will Skype for Business have the same CAL structure Lync Server 2013 does?”

Turns out that yes, it will!

Now that Skype for Business Server 2015 is on its way out into the world, I decided to look at its licensing. Surely by now we’d know what kind of licensing you must use.

And to a large extent we do. I came across several pages, Microsoft and otherwise, with licensing details.Skype4BLicensing2

Skype for Business team here at Microsoft. Ask us Anything! – Reddit.com: An entire Reddit discussion with the Skype for Business team. Wherein they answered a lot of questions, from licensing to security to “Why does Skype not close when I click the X?”

The licensing topic itself is a little buried, so you can head to this link instead for that: Skype for Business Licensing: The Issues – Mirazon.com. A nicely-collected summary on licensing structure.

To make it even easier for our readers, here are all the details I’ve collected.

The Skype4B Licensing Details

For on-prem versions, Licensing for Skype for Business Server stays the same as Lync Server 2013.

  • Each Front End server requires a server license.
  • Each user (or device) requires a standard CAL.
  • Add an Enterprise CAL for conferencing & desktop sharing, a Plus CAL for voice & call management, or both.
  • Client licenses are required for using the Skype for Business client. (These are included in Office 2013 Professional Plus, too.)
  • You’ll find a Licensing Guide on the Skype for Business IT Pros page.

Do you have Software Assurance? Then your licensing is taken care of. From Microsoft’s Skype for Business FAQs Page:

“How do current customers get Skype for Business?
Current Lync Server customers with Software Assurance will have rights to deploy Skype for Business. Office 365 customers with Lync Online will receive automatic updates as part of the subscription service.”

For Lync admins, this is good news. No huge licensing changes means a simpler upgrade path. Fewer hassles to deal with. Those of us with Software Assurance are in great shape too.

The Bad News

You knew it was coming. Fortunately, the bad news doesn’t have to do with licensing itself, but with license costs.
Pricing is still hard to obtain.

As anyone who’s worked with Microsoft software knows, nailing down pricing for licenses is a bit…challenging. (Okay, it’s like trying to keep 10 cats in a full bathtub.)

I’d planned to have pricing details available for you in this post. But I’m still chasing down the numbers, and I didn’t want to hold this licensing information back that long.

So now you know what we’ll blog about next week. Shhh, don’t tell…wait, no, tell everyone you know!

Have you installed Skype for Business Server 2015 yet? Testing or production, either way. I’d love to hear your experiences so far, with licensing and everything else. Please comment or email your thoughts.

And don’t forget to come back here next week!

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Lync Web App Doesn’t Like Chrome (or does Chrome Not Like Lync Web App?)

Lync 2013 Client

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:

Lync Web App on Chrome

Image courtesy of Support.Microsoft.com.

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.

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How to Change the Lync 2013 Client Into Skype for Business 2015 (With One Cmdlet)

Lync 2013 Client, Skype for Business

Ladies and gentlemen, Skype for Business is arriving now!

The April 14th Microsoft Update contains the Skype for Business client. You can download it here: https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/kb/2889923

With this update, Microsoft gives us the choice of displaying the new Skype for Business 2015 client interface, or continuing on the Lync 2013 UI. Depends on your users – are they quick to adapt? Are they familiar with Skype? If so, you can safely switch them to the new UI.

Otherwise, it might make more sense to keep them on Lync for now.

Switching between interfaces is done through PowerShell. With a few cmdlets you control which client version your users see.

How to Change Between Lync & Skype4B Clients

2015-04-22_13-32-58
CsClientPolicy is the cmdlet we’ll work with for changing between Lync 2013 and Skype for Business 2015. Here’s how you make the magic happen.

To change All Users to Skype for Business UI:
Set-CsClientPolicy -Identity Global -EnableSkypeUI $true

To change All Users to Lync 2013 UI:
Set-CsClientPolicy -Identity Global -EnableSkypeUI $false

What if you only want to change the UI for a certain group of users?
It’ll only take 2 extra cmdlets, in the same sphere.

First you create a new client policy by which to identify this group of users. Let’s call them “SkypeTesters”.
The cmdlet will look like this:
New-CsClientPolicy -Identity SkypeTesters -EnableSkypeUI $true

Then you collect users & assign them to this new SkypeTesters policy. You can collect users via department, AD group, etc. I’ll use a Marketing Department for this example.

To collect users: Get-CsUser -LDAPFilter “Department=Marketing”
To grant them the new client policy & enable Skype for Business UI: Grant-CsClientPolicy -PolicyName SkypeTesters

(Of course you can pipe these two cmdlets together & save time. I split them up just for clarity’s sake.)

More instructions on UI switching are available on TechNet: Configure the Client Experience with Skype for Business – TechNet

NOTE:  According to this page, the Skype for Business Client even works for Lync Server 2010! I didn’t expect that, but it’s a nice surprise. Any 2010 users out there, please consider an update soon. Comment or email if you have questions about it.

What if I use Lync Online?

Not to worry! Lync Online users will still get the Skype for Business UI (though it might take a little longer). You’ll also use PowerShell to switch the interface, but the cmdlets & switches are a little different.

To enable Skype for Business UI for all users, you’d enter this in Remote PowerShell:
Grant-CsClientPolicy –PolicyName ClientPolicyEnableSkypeUI

To keep the Lync UI for all users:
Grant-CsClientPolicy –PolicyName ClientPolicyDisableSkypeUI

To enable Skype for Business UI for a single user:
Grant-CsClientPolicy –PolicyName ClientPolicyEnableSkypeUI -Identity [User’s Name]

Additional switches & details: Switching between the Skype for Business and the Lync client user interfaces – Office 365 Support

Microsoft is phasing the Skype for Business client into use over the next couple months. I didn’t find a specific schedule, but most sources say it should arrive both for Lync Server 2013 and Lync Online/Skype for Business Online users by the end of summer.

There’s one easy way to tell if you’ve received the upgrade (note: this is for Lync Server 2013 users). Do any of your users’ clients report that their taskbar icon changed to Skype’s – but the client still looks like Lync?

Voila, you have the Skype for Business update. Just need to turn on the UI.

New Skype for Business Users: Please send in your thoughts & impressions of the new client! I’d like to hear what my readers think of the changes.

Next week, we’ll talk versioning and upgrade priorities. See you then.

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Are Lync Conversations Preserved by eDiscovery?

Lync Server 2013, Security

If you’ve followed political news lately, you’ve heard about Hillary Clinton using a private email server during her term as Secretary of State.

Not only did this throw suspicion on her actions in office, it illustrated several dangers in using personal email for work purposes.

We wrote a newsletter article on the dangers. You can read it here: Corporate Lessons from the Hillary Clinton Email Scandal – PlanetMagpie WOOF!

I bring this up here because there’s one specific danger that relates to Lync Server environments: the question of eDiscovery.

What is eDiscovery?

A simple (but clear) definition of eDiscovery is:

“The process of finding, preserving, analyzing, and producing content in electronic formats as required by litigation or investigations.”

(Courtesy of “Intro to eDiscovery in SharePoint, Exchange, and Lync 2013″ – Office Blogs)eDiscovery Papers?

Pay special attention to the last part: “As required by litigation or investigations.” eDiscovery is a legal protection. Businesses use it to preserve records in case they’re needed by law enforcement or the courts.

Many larger businesses must keep records in paper format in case of litigation. eDiscovery occurs for the same reason, just in electronic formats. (Using personal email for work escapes eDiscovery—which is why it’s dangerous to businesses.)

What kind of records are kept? Typically emails, office documents, database data, sometimes videos and internal webpages.

That brings us to records from Lync. Are those considered “legal records” by eDiscovery? And if so, what do we have to keep?

The Legal Value of Lync Conversations

On Microsoft platforms, eDiscovery runs primarily on Exchange Server, SharePoint Server, and Office 365. You’ll find more details on the versions and how they operate here:
eDiscovery FAQ – TechNet

Down a little ways you’ll see the question, “Does the eDiscovery Center work with different product versions?” In its chart, we see “Lync 2013 (when archived in Exchange 2013)” listed. It’s included in Search, In-Place Hold and Export categories.

It looks like Lync Server is included in eDiscovery all right—via Exchange. The question is, if Lync records are considered legally valuable…which records is it preserving?

Which Lync Records are Preserved by eDiscovery?

The answer to this question took a little digging for me to clarify. I’ll save you that trouble.

  • Archived Lync instant messages are preserved through In-Place Hold. (In-Place Hold is present in Exchange Server, which stores the Lync messages.)
  • Documents shared during Lync Meetings are also archived in Exchange mailboxes, and thus protected by eDiscovery.
  • Lync phone calls and video are not included in eDiscovery.

It goes back to what can & can’t be archived by Lync. If we go back to What Archiving Server Archives…and What It Doesn’t, we find that this list pretty much matches the record types preserved by eDiscovery.

Remember though, Archiving is not enabled by default. You must enable it, and configure it properly, if you want to/need to archive Lync records for eDiscovery. Defining Your Requirements for Archiving in Lync Server 2013 – TechNet

A quote from this page: “The archiving database is not intended for long-term retention and Lync Server 2013 does not provide an e-discovery (search) solution for archived data, so data needs to be moved to other storage [in Exchange].”

The MS Exchange Blog has a thorough article series discussing Exchange’s eDiscovery features.
Exchange 2013 In-Place Hold and In-Place eDiscovery (Part 1)

Lync cooperates with eDiscovery for IM conversations and meetings. Factor this into your Records Retention.

As of yet, I’ve heard nothing on whether Skype for Business will alter this eDiscovery preservation method. Offhand I’d say no. The content archiving process is relatively straightforward, and we aren’t getting a new Exchange version (yet).

All the same, I want to stress the importance of preserving Lync conversations for legal discovery. If you’re in a business which must keep records for Legal, take a look at these statistics: Overview of Microsoft Office eDiscovery with Exchange, SharePoint, and Lync 2013 – Quentin on Compliance, eDiscovery

90% of corporations were involved in litigation last year! Yikes. Now that we know Lync conversations are included in eDiscovery (if you configure Lync to archive with Exchange), maybe we can breathe a little easier.

More on eDiscovery, courtesy of Wikipedia.org: Electronic Discovery

How do you preserve records for legal purposes? Please comment or email your experiences. This is a meaty topic; I’d love to hear how you tackle it.

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How to Add DNS Suffixes to Edge Server – and Why Lync Needs Them

Lync Server 2013

I had a post scheduled talking about eDiscovery. But I got an email from Larry, our senior Lync team member, describing a Lync troubleshooting project he’d just finished for a client.

Well, we just have to document that one for our readers, don’t we?

The Scenario: Everything’s Installed, But is Edge Configured Properly?

Larry was on-site with a client who had some Lync Server 2013 components already installed. However their Edge Server was not communicating with the Front End. What was the problem?

He found no issues on the Front End Server itself. (FYI: Lync Server 2013 Enterprise Edition, Enterprise Voice and Monitoring roles installed.)

So he looked at the Edge Server. It must have a configuration issue, but what kind? He logged directly into the Edge Server and looked through its properties. The Lync Server software was up & running, DNS names were in place…

Wait a second. The Edge Server had a local name only (“companydomain”). What about its suffix?

The DNS Suffix: Necessary for Lync Server Topology

A DNS suffix is required for Edge Servers to communicate with the rest of Lync Server. Topology Builder requires a FQDN (Fully Qualified Domain Name), but by default Edge Servers use short machine names.

Configure the DNS Suffix for Edge Servers – TechNet

The client’s Edge did not have a DNS suffix. This must be why the topology couldn’t communicate with it. We had to add the suffix.

Here are the steps to adding a DNS suffix on an Edge Server:

  1. On the Edge Server, click Start, right-click Computer, and select Properties.
  2. Under “Computer Name, Domain, and Workgroup” settings, click Change Settings.
  3. On the Computer Name tab, click Change.
  4. You should see the “Computer Name/Domain Changes” screen. Click the More… button.
  5. The “DNS Suffix and NetBIOS Computer Name” window will pop up. In the Primary DNS suffix of this computer field, type the name of your internal domain (for example, lync.companydomain.com).
  6. Click OK to close the windows.
  7. Restart the computer.

DNS Suffix

(Apologies for the blurring. I used a testing server to create the screenshot, so there’s little risk of hacking. But, better safe than sorry!)

*Important Note: Make sure you restart the server before going any further! Larry did not immediately restart after implementing the DNS suffix (the client asked a question). It took him a moment to realize that THAT’S why he still had communication issues.

Add DNS Records for Edge Lookups

Once the DNS suffix had been added & Edge Server restarted, Larry was able to add the Edge to the existing Lync topology. Time for configuring some DNS records.

DNS records are required for external DNS lookups, perimeter networks and internal client lookups. Some of this was already in place, but Larry had to reconfigure so Edge was fully supported in the Lync architecture.

Here are details on DNS for Edge Servers in Lync Server 2013: Configure DNS for Edge Support in Lync Server 2013 – TechNet

The steps to creating a DNS SRV record:

  1. On the DNS server, click Start, & open Control Panel.
  2. Click Administrative Tools, and then click DNS.
  3. In the console tree for your SIP domain, expand the “Forward Lookup Zones”. Right-click the domain your Lync Server 2013 uses.
  4. Click Other New Records.
  5. Under “Select a Resource Record Type”, type Service Location (SRV), and then click Create Record.
  6. Provide the necessary information to populate the DNS SRV record.

Then, to create a DNS A record:

  1. Follow Steps 1-3 above to reach the Forward Lookup Zones on your SIP domain.
  2. Click New Host (A).
  3. Provide the necessary information for the new DNS record.

Lo and behold, communication worked between Edge and Front End! The client was happy.

DNS Suffix: A Small Addition, but Critical to Edge Communications

If you have trouble with your Edge Servers not cooperating with the Front End, make sure they have FQDNs in place. Otherwise DNS won’t understand proper lookups, and your topology won’t function.

Have you encountered a DNS error with your Edge Server? If so, please comment or email your story in. Did you solve it? Was it a DNS suffix issue, or something else? I’d love to hear about it.

Speaking of hearing about it, I’m a little behind on responding to reader support questions. Not ignoring anyone, I promise. Just wanted to reassure everyone.

Join us here again next week for that discussion on eDiscovery.

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Make Lync Stop Bugging You – How to Shrink its Powers of Distraction

Instant Messaging (IM), Lync 2013 Client

Sometimes, Lync is annoying.

You’re working away, accomplishing something, and then…DING! Incoming IM. DING! They typed again. DING! Oh, meeting request. DING!

I’ll be the first to celebrate Lync’s benefits. But now and then, it makes me want to “DING” my computer with a hammer.

Why? Distraction.

Always-on communication is, unfortunately, always on. You can be totally focused on a report or marketing campaign…and one message disrupts your concentration. Now your mind needs to re-focus. Which takes time. Oh wait, more distraction coming in!

Fortunately for my sanity (and yours), there are ways to minimize Lync’s powers of distraction. I have documented 4 options in today’s post. You can use each one separately, or together.

They involve making changes to the Lync 2013 client software, instituting certain policies, and a combination of both. You can do this on your own, or implement office-wide. It’s up to you.

Option 1: Turn off the annoying “Ding!” sound when an IM comes in.

First thing to avoiding distraction? Turn off distracting sounds. You have three ways to do this for Lync 2013. Each one is more powerful than the previous one.

A. Turn off Alerts: Find Lync Options by clicking the arrow next to the gear in the Lync 2013 client. Go to Tools -> Options. Click “Alerts”.

lyncoptionsalerts

These options let you determine for which Lync activities you’re alerted. New conversations, invites, contact list additions. Turn these on or off as you desire. To minimize alerts*, use the options checked in the screenshot (but uncheck the box under “General Alerts” too).

B. Turn off Sounds in Lync Options: Alerts not enough? You can turn off sounds too. Still in the Tools -> Options window, go to “Ringtones and Sounds”. You’ll see these options.

lyncoptionssounds

In this screenshot, you’ll see that this box is unchecked: “Play sounds in Lync (including ringtones for incoming calls and IM alerts)”. Normally it’s checked.

If you uncheck it, the “Ding!” sound goes away.

If you don’t quite want to get rid of ALL sounds, you can leave it checked and check/uncheck the options below it. For instance, keeping sounds to a minimum when you’re set to Busy or Do Not Disturb. (More on this below.)

C. Turn off the “New Message” sound in Windows Sound Options: This is the most powerful option. Instead of unchecking boxes in Lync Options, open the Windows Control Panel and click Sound. In the “Sounds” tab, look under Program Events for Lync. It has a bunch of associated sounds. The “Ding!” when a new IM comes in is assigned to “New Message.” Click that one and select “(None)” from the dropdown.

Click OK. You have now completely removed* the “Ding!” sound from Lync Instant Messages.

There’s a great post on exactly this topic over at the Inside Lync blog: How to Stop Lync from Chiming In So Much

*NOTE: Turning off Lync IM alerts completely means you will no longer hear *anything* when an IM comes in. If you aren’t paying attention, a potentially-important message will go unnoticed. Make sure you’re okay with this – nobody wants an angry boss who’s been ignored for 2 hours!

Options 2: Designate Non-Lync Time.

Set aside a certain time each day (or week) where you will focus on your work and not respond to any communications (barring emergencies of course). Call this “Non-Lync Time.” Block it out in your calendar.

When you’ve decided on “Non-Lync Time,” advise everyone else on your team. “I will be unavailable due to working on X for this period of time. Please only contact me if there’s an emergency.” That sort of thing.

If someone disrupts your Non-Lync Time with an IM or meeting request, gently remind them that you are not taking messages. This can be done by either ignoring the window for a while, sending them a quick email, or a quick phone call. It’ll take time for the message to sink in.

Option 3: Make Use of Presence, and Detail Your Status.

Make it a habit to keep your Presence status updated. It helps tell others not only what you’re doing, but whether or not they should try to talk with you.

For instance, if you’re in Non-Lync time, post a Presence status like this: “NON-LYNC TIME, NO RESPONSES UNTIL 3:00 PM”. When you’re not in Non-Lync Time, you can say: “Available for Conversations”.

Option 4: Remember the Difference between Busy and Do Not Disturb.

The Presence options aren’t just there to change the color bar next to your photo. They also effect changes in your reachability.

If you’re set to “Busy”, hopefully your colleagues know not to bother you. But they can still send you IMs and meeting invites. And you’ll still see them.

If you’re set to “Do Not Disturb” though – you will NOT receive conversation notifications. Colleagues cannot bother you.

However, this requires your effort as well. You must remember you’re set to “Do Not Disturb”, and turn it off when your don’t-disturb-me task is complete. Otherwise you’ll be unreachable the rest of the day!

(Remember: your Lync administrator can also set custom Lync Presence statuses. Maybe ask for one for Non-Lync Time?)

Communications are Important. But so is Concentration!

Lync is disruptive by default. And there’s some value in that – after all, urgent messages need your immediate attention. But for those times when you need to concentrate? We can make Lync stop bugging you.

What do you think about Lync’s distraction-ability? Please comment or email. If you have another solution you use, please share it!

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