Been running Windows 10 Technical Preview for the past couple of months together with Office 2016 Preview but we (MVPs) had to be mouth tied due to the NDA. However, with the recent announcement by Microsoft for Office 2016 for ITPro & Developer Preview, finally I can blog about the new Skype for Business Client (Skype4B).

Microsoft has also announced the recent re-branding of Lync to Skype for Business (Skype4B) and it will be released as part of the Office 2016 Suites – bear in mind just the client bits are release at the moment. Unless you want to be part of the TAP Program (or maybe already part of the TAP Program), the server bits are not available at this moment. Skype4B will also be available for Office 365 Customers.

Once you obtain from the link above, you would need a valid Office 365 ProPlus subscription to use the Preview. Here’s a guide on How-To by Stale Hansen – Got Office installed from Office 365 and want to test Skype for Business Client Preview? Upon completion, you’ll get a new Cool Blue interface

Skype4B Client Login

Basically the Lync Client GUI has been design as close as possible to the Skype UI but maintains the corporate look of Lync

Skype4B Client Contacts                        Skype for Desktop

Skype4B is still tightly integrated with our Outlook and this is once of the best thing to have – all appointments, schedule and conversation in a glimpse (Skype Consumer doesn’t integrate with your Exchange/Exchange Online in any means)

Skype4B History

 

For instead messaging, Skype4B still keeps the “Tab Ribbon” by the left side of the program while the Consumer Skype appears under the Recent Tab

Skype4B IM          Skype Consumer IM

 

 

For Voice call, Skype4B retains the unique look which gives the “always ready for Video Call” look

Skype4B Audio Call         Skype Consumer Audio Call

Even the System Tray Icons looks pretty close as well

Skype4B & Skype Consumer Tray Icon

 

This is just a glimpse of Skype for Business running with Office 365 – we should be expecting more features on the On-Premise so stay tuned!

With a recent move to Lync Online, I notice most of my contacts with Microsoft are no longer working – showing Presence Unknown. After much troubleshooting, we’ve decided to lodge an incident to the Microsoft Office 365 Technical Support, in which they came back with a feedback that they’ve did something at the backend and the Federation should work by now.

However, the contacts at my Lync Client shows that “Updating…” and later changes to Presence Unknown.

Finally, manage to get this sorted out by:

  1. Remove all of the contacts that shows as Updating or Presence Unknown
  2. Sign-Out and select “Delete My Sign-in Info”
  3. Deleted all folders under C:\Users\<Username>\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Office\15.0\Lync

Upon signing back to the Lync Client, re-adding the users brings the Presence back to its normal state

 

Plantronics has came out with a very cool method of updating the firmware on Bluetooth headsets – which is via their MyHeadset Updater running on web-based and I’ve updated mine using the same way as well.

However, after the update, I notice that my headset couldn’t pair with the Bluetooth dongle that comes with the device (BT300)

Plantronics BT300

Couple of the forum threads had suggested to delete and uninstall the using the Device Manager and re-pair the unit again, some even suggested to drain the battery completely so that the headset will automatically detect and pair back with the dongle. In which I’ve attempt both and no luck; pairing it with my Surface Pro 3 in-built Bluetooth works but the Voice Quality was extremely bad while running Lync Voice Calls.

In the end, I decide to create a ticket with Plantronics support and I would like to share this to those whom are experiencing the same problem as I did before (since there’re no blogs about it):

  1. Plug the Bluetooth Dongle (BT300) to the machine
  2. Hold down the Pick-up/Hang-Up Button for 5 seconds till you see the indicator turns Blue and constantly blinking

Pairing 00

Once the pairing is completed, you should be able to hear the Headset indicates that “PC 1 Connected” and you’re done :)

 

Microsoft has been doing great in terms of improving the Office 365 service offerings, providing different plans for different market.

Hence, to company which Office 365 suite or plans may be the most suitable for different organizations – there’s a Office Web Excel Web Part which has been publish directly by Microsoft provides a better insights and comparison for each product (even On Premise!) – Office 365 Service Comparison

I’d been working on a small engagement for a customer whom needs to use only SharePoint Online till the recent launch of Microsoft Office 365 Business Essentials early this October 2014 within out region (APAC) – with the same price of a Standalone SharePoint Online Plan 1 vs Office 365 Business Essential, the customer now starts to drill into details on these two (2) Plans. So to list this down to the customers, rather than going through line by line of each features between these plans – I’ve used the available Web Part which can be also be downloaded from the link that I’ve provided earlier and run the query very quickly to determine the differences. Although I would presume most of us are familiar with Microsoft Excel filtering feature, but I think it is still a good to share:

When you first load up the document, the Excel file displays the entire lists of Products and Plans (notice that the Filter Icon is greyed out):

O365 Service Comparison 01

To compare the two (2) Plans, press on the Control (CTRL) button and click on the Plans that you will NOT be part of your comparison. For my case, these are my filtering options to compare between SharePoint Online Plan 1 & Office 365 Business Essentials:

Options: Office 365 + Standalone

Service: SharePoint Online

Plan: Office 365 Business Essentials + SharePoint Online Plan 1

Features Area: Default

O365 Service Comparison 02

Outcome:

O365 Service Comparison 03

This comparison document has really ease up a lot of manual research (through TechNet) on both ITPro & End User information. You can even download an offline copy (which I find it good on road warriors) :)

Happy Filtering!

At my earlier post on Setting-Up Lync Room System from scratch, I’d mis-configured the display settings on Primary & Secondary Monitor, causing that I wasn’t able to use the Touch/Interactive Flat Panel seamlessly. In the end, I gave up by using the option – Factory Reset which took another 30 minutes to re-flash the LRS Operating System and another 1 Hour+ to reconfigure the entire. This is when I realized there’s a better way:

  1. Temporarily connect a USB keyboard and mouse to the Lync appliance (AM70-L).
  2. Access the system’s settings screens and the system will restart in the administrative settings mode:
  • On the room system console, click Options and then click Settings.
  • Enter the room system’s administrator account credentials.
  1. Select System Settings in the Settings column on the left.
  2. Click Network Connections under Control Panel.
  3. In the Network Connections window, change the address in the address bar to explorer.exe and press ENTER.
    Windows Explorer opens.
  4. In Windows Explorer, go to C:\Program Files\LyncRoom and open the moncfg application.
    A “Please check the display settings” message appears.
  5. Click OK.
    Windows display control panel opens.
  6. Change the display layout and resolution so that the large interactive flat panels are logically arranged to the left of the small console display, and so that the top edge of all displays are aligned as described in chapter 4 of the SMART Room System for Microsoft Lync setup and maintenance guide (smarttech.com/kb/170450)
  7. Click OK.
    A “When done, press OK to continue” message appears.
  8. Click OK.
  9. Close Windows Explorer.
  10. In the Network Connections window, change the address in the address bar to Taskkill.exe /f /im LyncRoomConsole.exe.
    All open windows are forced to close, and the Lync Room Console loads again and refreshes its settings.
  11. Press Apply and Restart to save your changes, and then restart the Lync Room System in user mode.
  12. Disconnect the USB keyboard and mouse

Reference Link – HOW-TO: Forcing a display configuration change in a Lync Room Systen

Finally the moment has arrived! Manage to get my hands on a SMART Lync Room System (SRS-Lync-S) to hook up with my office Lync 2013 infrastructure.

I’ll be skipping the “heavy metal” work on assembling and wall mounting the system as this took us almost half a day just to setup the Mounting Stand and positioning the Interactive Flat Panel (that weights almost 100KGs!).

The crucial part is connecting the console and Interactive Flat Panel where the instructions can be easily found within the boxes that came with the equipment. While I’m trying to locate the exact copy that I’d, this is link that has the closest match how should the connectivity for the LRS. [Updated 28-08-2014] Audio Cabling Guide can be obtained from here

LRS-Startup

With the display, audio, USB and Power connectivity in-placed, the system which runs on Windows 7 Embedded will walk us through the initial setup that would be required to Calibrate the Flat Panel and Detect the peripherals that are connected to it. The full setup guide can be found here

Here’s some walkthrough (aka HOW-TOs) during the overall setup that may not be too “visible” from the available document:

1. When the wizard initiates the Audio Source, select the Table Speaker instead of the Web Cam. The speaker will not immediately shown that is activate in Green so don’t panic and complete the wizard

2. During the display adjustment, you need to adjust the following resolution: Interactive Panel – 1920 x 1080, Console – 1366 x 768. LRS-Adjust Resolution 01

3. Upon confirming the changes, you’ll receive an error message: ERROR: The right-most monitor isn’t the primary monitor if you did not move the Console to the Right side

LRS-AdjustResolution 02 

4. To fix this, you’ll need to drag the Console screen to the left of the Interactive Flat Panel

LRS-AdjustResolution 03

5. However, this is not the end – upon confirming the changes, you might get this message indicating that the top of the console is not align with the Flat Panel ERROR: The top of the monitor \\.\DISPLAY2 is not aligned.

LRS-AdjustResolution 04

6. To solve this, just move the console screen and align it with the Interactive Flat Panel:

LRS-AdjustResolution 05

7. After this the Wizard will start to configure the System with a couple of reboots and you’ll be brought into the Lync Room System Setup Wizard, which you’ll need a Lync account to be provisioned at the Lync Server 2013

8. Download & follow the  Lync Room System Deployment Guide to setup the Exchange & Lync account for the System

9. Go back to the LRS Console

10. If you’re using an internal Microsoft Certificate Authority Server (Microsoft CA), manually add the Root Certificate into the Trusted Root Certificate Store

11. Add the trusted domain into the registry – Adding a Trusted Domain

12. Activate the System License  – Activating On Premise LRS. I’m currently stuck here as I’ve tried a couple of license keys but couldn’t get it activated. However, the LRS still works as per normal but you’ll get an annoying pop-out stating that the Lync Activation has failed . [Updated: 01/08/2014] Got the license key from SMART Technologies and the Lync Room System was successfully activated.

13. Key in the necessary credentials which was created at Step #8.

14. DO NOT SAVE and Restart the System. Run at least a Test Call and the Test Online Meeting, if everything works well, Save and Restart the system

[Updated: 01/08/2014]

15. After the LRS has rebooted into its Normal Mode (in this mode, you’re able to see the Calendar option on the Interactive Flat Panel); however, I wasn’t able to join the Online Meeting when attempting to do so from the screen.

16. To resolve the issue, I’d unplugged the keyboard & mouse (as initially administrating it through those devices seems to be faster to me) and I’d rebooted the system but the problem persists.

17. Booted into the Admin Console and run the calibration – both the Interactive Flat Panel & Console seems to solve the problem after that.

18. Next, is to test out the Online Meeting – it appears that joining the conference for Audio & Video doesn’t pose any issue however the Collaboration Workload (Presenting of Power Point & Desktop Sharing) doesn’t seem to work with the following error:

LRS-OnlineMeeting 01

Surprisingly, this error only occurs on the LRS but not the other machines in the environment. So a quick search at the Internet leads me to this article – Troubleshooting Lync 2013 PowerPoint sharing issue: “There was a problem verifying the certificate from the server. Please contact your support team.” As my problem was due to Access Rights to the Certificate Authority Server, I’ll post my experience on a separate article. In short, the problem happens only on Workgroup machines where the LRS is currently configured under the Workgroup membership.

With the last challenge shared above, the LRS is now fully functional and ready to operate whenever anyone sent a Room/Resource Booking invite – no more messy preparation & configuration of Web Conferencing Meetings!

Feel free to post your Queries/Feedback if you need to know more about the Solution :)

A co-worker of mined had attempted to put in a Exchange 2013 recently – in which causing the UM Server not to work unexpectedly. Although after cleaning up the Exchange 2013, we notice that:

  • Dialing to Voice Mail doesn’t to work anymore
  • Dialing to the Exchange Auto Attendant & Subscriber access seems to just “dropped”
  • Miss call notifications & voice mail no longer arrives in the mailbox

From the Exchange Server, such error kept surfacing when an attempt is made through the Lync Client

The following UM IP gateways did not respond as expected to a SIP OPTIONS request.

Transport = TLS, Address = LyncPoolServer.domain.com Port = 5061, Response Code = 0, Message = This operation timed out

UMNotWorking01

From the Lync Server:

Dial Plan Unknown

Dialplan [DialPlanName.domain.com] not recognized by routing application.

Cause: Dial plan does not exist, or Microsoft Lync Server 2013 does not have permission to read the relevant Active Directory objects.

Resolution: If the dial plan is valid, then run  exchucutil.ps1 in appropriate Exchange forest to give permission to Microsoft Lync Server 2013. If the dial plan is not valid, then clean up proxyAddress attribute for the affected users.

UMNotWorking01

As we suspected that during the Exchange 2013 installation, some of the permissions may have been reset or altered, causing the issue above, so we went ahead and re-run the script of ExchUCUtil.ps1 from the Exchange 2010 Unified Messaging role server and restarted the services.

However, the first error still appears and to confirm this, we’d to check the Dial Plans on the Exchange UM Server:

Get-UMIPGateway | fl

UMNotWorking03

Notice that the Port displays the value of 0 ; to solve this matter, we’d to manually assign the port number of 5061 to each Lync Server 2013:

Set-UMIPGateway -Identity LyncPool.domain.com -Port 5061

Next, a restart on the Microsoft Exchange Unified Messaging & Lync Server Front-End services will bring the Voice Mail back “alive”

Read the rest of this entry »

After running through the Hands-On Lab at the Lync Conference 2013 and also Microsoft MTC in Singapore, I’ve been itching to setup a unit of the SMART Interactive Board System or SMART Lync Room System from SCRATCH in which the unit is still not available in this region (Malaysia) – for now.

However, thanks to EP-Tec Solutions, I’ve manage to get an alternate model that leverages on SMART Meeting Pro that support Lync 2013 for interactive collaboration:

LRS_01

Assembling the unit was basically pretty straight forward – a moving wall stand, an interactive flat panel and some cables (VGA, HDMI & USB)

LRS_02

Before powering up the unit, I would recommend to prepare the machine to run on Windows 8.1 with Office 2013 Professional Plus (make sure to choose the Full Installation). Next, go to SMART Technologies download page and download SMART Meeting Pro 4.0

LRS_03

The download already comes with the SMART Meeting Pro Connector for Lync; if you’ve previously installed SMART Meeting Pro Connector for Lync, uninstall of the SMART Meeting software & components, make a reboot before you initiate the installation. Having both applications installed will cause the Microsoft Ink to go missing, which will cause the digital ink from smart unable to “write” onto the document.

Once the installation is completed, you should be able to see a grey side bar at the left at the screen

LRS_04

LRS_05

Once you’ve any of your Office Documents launched, Microsoft Ink will automatically be activated which allows you to write on the document. The system basically allows the document to be saved as a Native file format (docx, pptx & xlsx) after writing in the contents with the digital ink.

LRS_06        LRS_07

This is pretty useful when you perform an Online Meeting with Desktop Sharing is being initiated; however, take note that the Lync Whiteboard DOES NOT work with Microsoft Ink and you’ll need to use the given “Tools” from the whiteboard.

 

Microsoft had just released a public hot fix to remediate issues on iPad 2 running on iOS 7.1 where the Lync Client is unable to place or receive Audio & Video Calls

The Lync 2013 for iPad client cannot place or receive audio or video calls when the client is hosted on iPad 2 devices that are running iOS 7.1

The symptom doesn’t happen on Lync Client running on iPad Mini or the iPad Air, running on iOS 7.1

Kudos to the Lync Engineering team is identifying and resolving this matter!

Was just stumbling through the Windows Store and found a couple of cool apps on Lync

Lync Win8 Apps

Clockwise from the top left:

  1. Lync Handbook – a useful app for users whom are new to Lync
  2. Lync Pre-Call Diagnostic – a MUST for Lync Admin while troubleshooting Quality on Voice
  3. Shortcut Keys for Lync – a cool app that give you more productivity using Lync and your Keyboard (more than just touch!)
  4. Lync News – a RSS reader directly from NextHop

 

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