How To Stop Lync From Chiming In So Much

[This is a guest blog post authored by Microsoft PowerShell MVP and expert Kirk Munro. You can reach Kirk through his blog at or through his Twitter handle @poshoholic].

I am often invited into Lync meetings that I want to passively watch and/or listen to on a second screen while I continue doing other work on my main monitor. Unfortunately, whenever I switch the active application away from the Lync client during these meetings, Lync plays the IM notification chime every time someone else in the meeting sends out an IM to the meeting attendees. On some of these meetings, which have dozens of attendees, there is a lot of IM chatter and these chimes can be very annoying. A portion of the meeting I was passively tuned into last night went something like this:

> “DING! All hotels DING! offer DING! free wi-fi DING! access DING! DING! except DING!…”

I was feeling a little like Captain Hook with a whole lot of clocks ticking nearby. Clearly, something had to be done.

The first step was to verify that I had the correct option set in my Lync options. In the Lync 2013 client, if you open the Options dialog (either by selecting Tools | Options from the menu or by simply clicking on your Lync photo) you will see a section labeled “Ringtones and Sounds”. This section contains the following options:


There are two applicable settings in the options screen shot above:

  1. Play sounds in Lync (including ringtones for incoming calls and IM alerts)”.  This is a master kill switch for all sounds in Lync aside from the audio streams. That would do the trick, however it is overkill, and I want to be able to hear incoming calls or new IM request alerts when I am just passively listening in.
  2. Mute incoming IM alert sounds when viewing an IM conversation”.  IM alert sounds are the sounds that I want to disable, so that sounds promising. When enabled however (by default) I still hear the IM alert sounds when the IM conversation window is open. That happens because “viewing an IM conversation” (the last portion of that option label) means this is only applicable when actively viewing a conversation, with the Lync meeting window having focus. If you switch the focus away from the Lync meeting window, you’ll start hearing IM alert sounds whenever anyone sends a message to the IM chat. As I hinted at with my earlier example of a meeting last night with ~100 attendees there can be a lot of chatter (DING! …. DING! … DING!) in the IM window, and the repeated IM alert sounds are very distracting (read: incapacitating) when trying to concentrate on getting something else done while simply keeping an ear open to the meeting discussion.

Neither of these options resolved my problem so I searched for and found a better solution which is fairly simple.

While the Lync options dialog is open, open the Sound setting on your Windows client machine. This dialog should be shown:


Within that dialog, scroll down the Program Events list until you find the events for Lync. You’ll know you’re in the right spot when you see the Lync section header (the selected item in the screenshot shown above). Continue scrolling down in that section until you find the entry called “New Message” and select it. This entry is set to the “LYNC_newim.wav” sound by default (the DING!). Use the Sounds combo box on that dialog to change the sound from the default value to “(None)” (which can be found at the top of the list of values in the combo box). Then click on the OK button to close the sound settings, and then on the other OK button to close the Lync options dialog.

Once you have made these changes, you should be able to passively listen-in on Lync meetings that don’t need your full attention without being distracted/annoyed by the incessant beep if the IM chatter gets noisy. Boy do I ever wish I had discovered this option a long, long time ago.

Important: I should point out that making this change means that you won’t hear an IM alert if you have a chat window open in the background and someone adds a message to that chat. The chat window icon in your taskbar will still be highlighted with a flashing Lync icon when a new IM message is received, but I know that some people want the sound notification as well. You’ll have to decide if that trade-off is worth it. Personally, I can definitely live with it! :-)

Kirk out.

What has InsideLync Been Up To?

Several folks have noticed it’s been a bit quiet on InsideLync over the summer months!

I took a brief hiatus from posting on my personal blog and tried my hand at writing some Lync articles for various publications – mostly centered around Lync cost savings and the future of UC.

Here are a few for your viewing pleasure:

5 Reasons Microsoft Lync Will Thrive in a Post-PC World

CIO TODAY UK – Curtis Johnstone – August 2014

* Note: you have to supply an email address to read this publication.  It is a simple one-step process (no email verification) and they do not SPAM you.

How to Gain Insight into the Cost Saving Benefits of Your UC Solution

NoJitter – Curtis Johnstone – July 21, 2014

Three Steps to Understanding the Cost Saving Benefits of Microsoft Lync

UC Insight – Curtis Johnstone – June 16, 2014

Lastly, if you want to gain some perspective on how I was originally drawn to the UC space, you can read this write-up on Dell’s Direct Blog:

The Power of Unified Communications

I hope to resume blogging on various Lync and UC topics later this month!

Free Microsoft Lync eBooks

I discovered a fantastic set of free Microsoft content recently and wanted to share it with my readers. Eric Ligman from Microsoft has put together what he calls the:

Largest collection of FREE Microsoft eBooks ever, including: Windows 8.1, Windows 8, Windows 7, Office 2013, Office 365, Office 2010, SharePoint 2013, Dynamics CRM, PowerShell, Exchange Server, Lync 2013, System Center, Azure, Cloud, SQL Server, and much more

In addition to some good Lync content there are some valuable free resources for Microsoft Exchange, Office 365, SharePoint, PowerShell, and Azure. You can access it all here:

There are ten Lync specific digital publications available. Many of them you have seen before including fellow MVP Matt Landis’ excellent free eBook Microsoft Lync Server 2013 Step By Step for Anyone

Here is a full listing of the Lync specific content available with the links to download:

  1. Lync Server 2013 Stress Testing Guide
  2. Microsoft Lync Room System Deployment Guide
  3. Lync Right Start Kit
  4. Lync 2013 Keyboard Shortcuts
  5. Microsoft Lync Server 2013 Step By Step for Anyone
  6. Microsoft Lync Server 2013: Basic Administration – Release 2.1
  7. Lync for Mac 2011 Deployment Guide
  8. Microsoft Lync Server Resource Kit Tools
  9. Microsoft Lync Server 2010 Resource Kit
  10. Microsoft Lync Server 2010 Security Guide

Happy reading!

Configuring Simultaneous Ring with Mitel Communications Director (MCD) and Microsoft Lync Server 2013

The last InsideLync blog article provided a guide to establishing Direct SIP integration between Mitel Communications Director (MCD) and Microsoft Lync Server 2013.

Once direct SIP has been established, users will likely benefit from simultaneous ring (“SimRing”) integration. SimRing in this scenario means that when a Mitel phone extension is called the call will be “forked” to a associated Microsoft Lync endpoint (which typically belongs to the same user as the Mitel phone extension). This allows a user to receive a call on both their Mitel phone and Lync client in an environment with both Mitel and Lync. Speaking from experience, this is a wonderful feature for users living in a scenario where an existing IP-PBX phone and Lync enterprise voice coexist. It allows the user to receive incoming calls on whatever endpoint is best for them.

To enable SimRing between Mitel Communications Director (MCD) and Microsoft Lync Server 2013 a configuration guide was authored by InsideLync guest contributor and Lync consultant Habib Mankal and is available here:

Here is a hyperlinked table of contents to get you started:


   Reference Topology

Mitel Configuration

   Configuration and Licensing

   Class of Service

   User and Device Configuration

   Personal Ring Group


Direct SIP Integration between Mitel Communications Director (MCD) and Microsoft Lync Server 2013

If you’re looking for an introduction and reference guide on how to establish Direct SIP integration between Mitel Communications Director (MCD) and Microsoft Lync Server 2013, this blog article will help you. Note – Mitel Communications Director (MCD) is the re-branded name for the Mitel 3300 IP-PBX starting in MCD Version 4.

Mitel is a qualified IP-PBX vendor for direct SIP connection, and the last version to be officially qualified was the Mitel 3300 version This guide provides guidance for establishing Direct SIP with the new Mitel MCD Version 6, so it is officially unsupported by both Microsoft and Mitel, but practically it has successfully been used several times.

The Direct SIP Integration between Mitel Communications Director (MCD) and Microsoft Lync Server 2013 guide was authored by InsideLync guest contributor and Lync consultant Habib Mankal and is available here: 

Here is a hyperlinked table of contents to get you started:

Table of Contents


   Reference Topology.

Mitel Configuration.

   Configuration and Licensing.

   Class of Service.

   Network Element.

   Trunk Attributes.

   SIP Peer Profile.

   Call Routing.

Lync Server 2013 Configuration.

   Adding the Mitel MCD IP-PBX into Lync Server 2013 topology builder.

   Create a Dial Plan.

   Voice Policy, PSTN Usage, and Route.

   Trunk Configuration.


Additional References

Happy SIP Trunking!

Allowing Anonymous Presenters in a Lync Meeting

I have participated in several Lync meetings recently where an anonymous attendee – an external partner or customer for example – was attending the web conference and the organizer wanted them to share content (an PowerPoint presentation for example) but they could not – the option to “Share” in the Lync Web App client was not available.

This is a quick blog post to show organizers of Lync Meetings how to enable anonymous participants to share content when they are participating via the Lync Web App.

When a meeting is scheduled in Outlook, or an existing Lync meeting is edited, there is a Meeting Options button beside the Lync Online meeting icon that allows the Organizer to change the Online Meeting Options, and these include options for who are Presenters for the meeting.

Here is a screenshot of the create Online Meeting toolbar in Outlook (provided by the Lync add-in):


Clicking on the Meeting Options brings up a dialog which allows the Lync organizer to customize several meeting options – as shown here:


In most Lync deployments, the default setting is “People from my company” which will not allow an anonymous guest to share content.

To allow external anonymous guests to Share content, the “Everyone including people outside my company” option needs to be selected above.

Note: the “Customize access and presenters for this meeting” option must be selected first to change the default options below. Selecting this customize access option will also generate a new Conference ID – i.e. a Conference ID that is different from the same one used for all Lync meetings by this organizer (this Conference ID will show up in the meeting URL but does not really have any other significance from a user perspective).

Tip – if you do not see a “Meeting Options” icon make sure you are in either Creating a meeting or Editing an existing one – the basic Calendar view for example will not show the Meeting Options icon. The ability to create meetings and edit them in Outlook comes from both the Lync Meeting Add-In for Microsoft Office 2013 and the Online Meeting Add-in for Microsoft 2010.

Tip – Why are these options grayed out for me?  It is possible that the Lync administrator has disabled the ability for end users to allow some of these options.  If so, some of these options might not be customizable by the end user.

If allowing external anonymous participants to present is a default experience you wish to have every Lync meeting, select the “Remember settings” option to make this your new default Lync meeting experience.  Note: when you change this setting it will apply for future meetings with your static Conference ID.

Tip – the Lync organizer can promote an external anonymous attendee to a Presenter at any time during the meeting by right-clicking on their name and selecting “Make Presenter” as shown here:


Here we see an external anonymous guest attendee is not a Presenter and does not have any Sharing capabilities:


Here we can see that once an organizer has promoted the anonymous guest to be Presenter, that the guest has Sharing capabilities in the Lync 2010 Web App:


These screen shots show the experience when the external anonymous attendee uses the Lync 2010 Web App (my target audience was still using the Lync 2010 Web App).

The Lync 2013 Web App has a much improved experience and less limitations as outlined in this article on Microsoft NextHop: Lync 2013: The New Lync Web App.

Happy web conferencing!

Perspectives on the Big Announcements at Lync Conference 2014

Now that the dust has settled on the Microsoft Lync 2014 Conference last week, this article gives a recap of the big announcements and some perspectives on what it means to Lync, Skype, and the communications world at large.

The full keynote is available here to watch here:

Beyond “Unified Communications” – Introducing “Universal Communications”

After a brief work-assignment-sabbatical from the Microsoft UC space, Gurdeep Singh Pall (Corporate Vice President for Lync & Skype Engineering, Microsoft) was back in fine form and offered some insightful thought leadership on the communications space and what the future will look like. Gurdeep is a proven visionary and it was great to see him back helping to plot the course for the next decade.


The “Universal Communications” announcement was somewhat lost in earlier more practical cool feature-based announcements in the keynote, but it is significant and will shape the UC industry in the next decade. Speaking from personal perspective, it was Microsoft’s initial vision of “software powered communication” that really resonated with me over 7 years ago and got me involved in working with Lync (OCS at the time!).

At the 58 min mark of the keynote Gurdeep talks about how the decade of Unified Communications is drawing to a close – specifically how the initial goals that were set out at the beginning of the decade have been largely accomplished, and he raises the important question – so what is next ??   Drum roll … enter:

“Universal Communications”

Gurdeep’s reasoning for this term is well thought out – it’s based on the changing landscape of communication tools and methods we use that cross barriers that include work & life, social, synchronous & asynchronous, multiple devices, and the cloud.


Gurdeep then offered what he thinks will be the pillars of future Universal Communication experiences:

  1. Consistent User Experience
    • the next generation of information workers will require familiar user experiences as they have in the personal and social lives; they are not going to re-train to use enterprise tools.
  2. Application and Context Intelligence
    • your universal communication applications should “know what your brains wants”
    • regardless of what device you are on, your applications should know you and what you want
    • interesting – this leverages the intelligence platform Gurdeep was working on during his UC sabbatical
    • real life example offered by Gurdeep: your UC solution will “predict who you will be calling in the next 5 minutes…”.  Wow.
  3. Video – it’s about Video
    • study after study shows that people connect better with video – there are higher levels of trust, commitment, and engagement when video is involved in the conversation
  4. Universal Reach
    • anyone should be reachable

Gurdeep articulates these thoughts here in this blog post: From unified to universal, the next stage for communications.


  • Kudos – I think Gurdeep, and Microsoft, nailed it. They are once again demonstrating their ability to lead in a space with their vision and thought leadership.
  • Admittedly “Universal Communications” did not resonate with me when it was announced. Since having time to digest it however, the term “Universal” really does encapsulate the future trends that we are seeing in the communications space: a highly distributed workforce where people to communicate and collaborate across work & social boundaries, on any device, in the most effective way possible (intelligence + modality).
  • Microsoft is well positioned with Skype, Lync, Office 365, their devices, and commitment to cross-platform experiences to make this vision happen.


New JavaScript Wrapper Coming for Lync

At the 36:40 mark Derek Burney (Microsoft Corporate VP) makes what I think is another under-rated but very significant announcement in the keynote: a new Javascript wrapper for Lync built on the existing UCWA API – codenamed jLync.

This is very significant because it will enable web developers to integrate all modalities of Lync and Skype communications into web sites and web applications very easily. With the coming age of simple context embedded application in web applications and devices (aka ‘webRTC’) Microsoft is enabling Lync and Skype to be more easily embedded into the context of business and personal workflow.

Allows developers to integrate all modalities of communications into web sites and web applications very easily. I saw a tweet from the conference stating this will likely be enabled via a Lync Server Cumulative Update rather than a having to wait for the next server release.

Fellow Lync MVP Matt Landis has a posted a recent article if you are seeing J-Lync in action: Microsoft Demonstrates UC Javascript API (aka jLync, UCJA, Name TBD) That Brings All Lync Client Modalities “In Browser”.


  • With initiatives such as webRTC being slowed down by the standards process, Microsoft is showing they understand the significance of simple embedded communications and is positioning Lync and Skype to be part of the that.
  • This will spur Lync and Skype communication modalities such as web chat, audio, video, desktop and application sharing, and conferencing into websites and any web application with a few lines of code.


More Lync Mobile Upgrades

Derek Burney takes the stage at the 17:13 min mark and demonstrates the latest and greatest features that are being delivered in Lync including the following:

1. Voice activated commands on Windows phone

Derek demonstrated the ability to show your meetings and join your next meeting with a voice command – no-click required. The user simply instructs the Lync mobile client to ”show my meetings” or “join my next meeting”.

Here is a screenshot showing an Android client responding to the “join my next meeting” voice command.


Developers can use the same open Speech API to build your own voice activated windows phone apps.

2. Anonymous join from mobile and tablet

Lync as long had the ability to join a conference as an anonymous user via the Lync Web App.  Derek demonstrated the ability to sign-in as a guest from a mobile – making it easier for partners and customers who don’t have Lync to participate in Lync meetings.

Here is a screenshot of Derek joining a Lync meeting as a guest from and iPad:


3. Display a PowerPoint deck in a on an iPhone

Here is a screen shot of the new ability to display a PowerPoint presentation in Lync on an iPhone:



For Lync and Skype to be to UC solution of choice, it will need to work on all popular devices and this is more proof that Microsoft keeps evolving their cross-platform mobile support to give Information Workers the tools to collaborate anywhere.


Lync Support for Android Tablets

Derek demonstrated the much asked for Lync client for the Android tablet.


The client will be available on Google Play by the end of June.

More information on the Android tablet Lync app in this ZDNet article by Mary Jo Foley.


Again, more fulfillment of Microsoft’s commitment to making Lync work across all devices and platforms.


New Windows 8.1 Lync Client Features

Some very useful new features were announced in the Windows 8.1 Lync client that leverages native Windows 8.1 functionality to achieve the following:

  1. Answer a call without unlocking screen
  2. Use split screens with adjustable sizes (e.g. content in one screen and communication in another)
  3. Allow participants to advance through presentation slides


Although these are feature upgrades rather than big new features, I do like the fact Microsoft is staying committed to improving the user experience – crucial in the communication user experience.  The more effective an information worker is, the more a UC solution such as Lync fulfills it’s promise of better communication and collaboration.


Lync Online to get Enterprise Voice and Large Meetings

At the 41 min market of the keynote Gurdeep announced the coming support for PSTN in-and-out calling in Lync Online (at the 41 min mark of the keynote). He also announced support for large meetings in Lync Online: a 1000-2000 attendee meeting will be possible in Lync Online. Both features are expected “this year”.


  • Although these were quick announcements, the addition of Enterprise Voice to Lync Online is huge. Bringing the ability to dial in and out to PSTN (i.e. the ‘regular’ phone system) makes Lync Online a viable complete SaaS based communication offering. PSTN connectivity is a powerful feature for businesses, and to offer this to consumers without the on-premises hardware and configuration is significant.
  • The ability to host large meetings gives Lync Online subscribers the ability to leverage Microsoft’s cloud to scale out large meetings when that workload requires it. To accommodate that type of meeting scale today on-premises typically requires an investment in additional hardware that might only be used for a small subset of your Lync meetings (e.g. large meetings).


Bing & Browser Skype Extensions

Bing has had the ability to allow users to call a number from the search results with one-click for awhile. Derek demonstrated the new ability to now allow the called-party to pay the bill.  Businesses can make their phone numbers free-to-call for any Bing user anywhere – offering a 1-800 type experience.

Here is a screenshot from the demo


These extensions will also extend to high definition video calling.


More proof of Microsoft’s vision of having Skype and Lync communication easily accessible in Web browsers and applications.


Skype and Lync get Video Interoperability

At the 37:08 min mark of the keynote Derek Burney announced video support for Skype to Lync (“coming in a few months”).

Here is a screenshot of Derek video calling a Skype user from his Lync client:


This video interoperability is being called “Lync-Skype connectivity v2” and if you are interested in more details about it such as what video codes are used and how much bandwidth is consumed take a look at this NextHop article: Microsoft Lync-Skype connectivity v2 – Adds Video and More.


This is continued evidence of Microsoft’s commitment to bring Lync and Skype communication together – enabling Lync enterprise users to easily connect with the hundreds of millions of partners, customers, and friends and family – the heart of connecting the enterprise to the consumer network (aka B2X).

For more information see Microsoft’s blog article: Video calling between Skype and Lync is part of next step of universal communications.


Bing & Browser Skype Extensions

Bing has had the ability to allow users to call a number from the search results with one-click for awhile. Derek demonstrated the new ability to now allow the called-party to pay the bill.  Businesses can make their phone numbers free-to-call for any Bing user anywhere – offering a 1-800 type experience.

Here is a screenshot from the demo


These extensions will also extend to high definition video calling.


More proof of Microsoft’s vision of having Skype and Lync communication easily accessible in Web applications.


Video Interoperability with Tanberg

Microsoft announced video interoperability between Lync and Tanberg VTC.  This will enable a legacy Tanberg VC to join a Lync meeting. This will likely be enabled via a dedicated Lync video interop server component in the next release of Lync Server.


In the real world there is still a lot of audio and video solutions businesses have made investments in.  The more interop that Lync has, the more easily a solution like Lync can be utilized without having to throw away existing solutions.


More Compelling Lync Growth Numbers

During his talk Gurdeep Singh Pall also provided some compelling numbers on Lync’s continued domination in the UC space

  • Lync has experienced 38 Quarters of double-digit revenue growth
  • 60% of enterprise have deployed Lync
  • #1 UC voice market leader
  • 130 million Skype users use Android and iOS – out of the 300 million active Skype users

A Recent 360 Tour of Lync

Myself and Greg Thomas (from Openjive) launched a new Lync Users Group in Ottawa, Canada last week.

The inaugural meeting was a great experience and the bulk of it was Greg and I doing an end-to-end platform tour of Lync with demonstrations so that everyone had a good background to go deeper into specific Lync and UC topics at future meetings.  It was quite a challenge to cover such an expansive topic in 1 hour, but we did it (ok – it took us 1.5 hours)!  To achieve this (including a brief ‘State of Affairs’ on Skype, Yammer, and Lync Online) we had to keep the topics at a very high level.

The presentation by itself without the demo’s and presenters greatly diminishes in value, but we had such good feedback I am sharing it here.  If anyone needs to give a 360 Tour of Lync on short notice, this should be a great reference.

The embedded presentation is included below.  If you want to see some of the speaking notes, view the presentation here in the PowerPoint Web App and click on “Notes” on the bottom toolbar.


Lastly, if you are in the Ottawa area join our Ottawa Lync Users LinkedIn group and come out to a meeting!

Skype and Lync on a SMART TV

An early Christmas present in the form of a new SMART TV (Samsung) brought visions of sugar plums dancing in my head – communicating with my Lync contacts on my couch via the built-in Skype application on my TV. While Skype in your living room on a SMART TV is old news, I was looking forward to seeing and communicating with my Lync contacts (via Skype & Lync Federation) with no PC, Tablet, Phone, or Gaming device – just my TV.  Here is what the Skype sign-in screen looks like when you start it on a SMART TV:

Skype TV 1

Skype Federation with Lync is not Possible yet on your SMART TV

My visions were quickly dashed – the first thing I discovered is that the version of Skype that runs on SMART TV’s does not allow sign-in with a Microsoft Account yet, which of course is prerequisite to Lync federation (for the record, the version of Skype running on my Samsung TV was v2.13). Without sign-in in with a Microsoft Account, any attempt to add a federated Lync contact will produce a “Not Found” error message. As the Skype and Lync story evolves quickly I would imagine sign-in with a Microsoft Account will be available in the not-too distant future (just speculating here).

Despite not being able to communicate with Lync, I did start to enjoy the Skype experience on my TV and here is what I found.

You cannot use a Regular Web Camera for Audio/Video with most SMART TV’s

After starting Skype on your TV, you quickly realize how restricted you are if the SMART TV has no native audio and video. The Skype TV application notifies you when it starts whether there is an audio/video capable device attached as shown here:

Skype TV 2

I started to embark on hooking up a standard Lync optimized Web Cam via USB but discovered that a regular computer WebCam cannot be used.  A specialized “TV Camera” is needed. This Skype support statement explains why in this Skype support statement as:

Can I use my regular or HD webcam with my Skype-enabled TV or do I need a special one?

Since Skype on your TV isn’t compatible with regular computer webcams, you need to use a special TV camera. These are specifically designed with microphones that can pick up sound from further away, allowing you to enjoy Skype calls from the comfort of your couch, as well as providing great quality video that’s been optimized for use with your TV.

Some higher-end SMART TV’s come with a built-in video camera. Another noteworthy point is that the audio is provided by the special TV Camera – i.e. there are no microphone special devices – the audio is provided through the camera. Here is an example of the TV camera that would work with my Samsung TV:

This particular camera retails for ~$250.  If anyone has some experiences to share with other camera options, please comment.

Hooking up a Keyboard to your SMART TV is a Wise Investment if you are going to Use Skype TV

With all this Skype’ing on your TV, you will start to get frustrated with all the intricate pressing of TV remote buttons. Fortunately most SMART TV’s easily support hooking up a wireless keyboard (and mouse if you wish) via a USB receiver and transmitter on the keyboard side.  I would recommend hooking one up if you are going to use Skype on your SMART TV.

Most SMART TV’s have a ‘Device Manager’ buried in the Menu settings which can be used to setup a keyboard and mice. The setup screen for Samsung is shown here:

Skype TV - Keyboard

Skype and Lync in your Living Room on your TV is Compelling

After getting over the initial hurdles described above, I think the Living Room part of Microsoft’s “from the Boardroom to the Living Room” vision  is quite real and promising – more so with an entertainment device such as the Xbox One – but for now I’ll focus on the SMART TV experience.

Admittedly I was skeptical about Microsoft UC making it’s way into my living room.  I am still not sure how much I would use it for work-related communication, but the real power of having Microsoft UC on your TV is having all your contacts – landline (e.g. Mom and Dad) and UC enabled ones (Skype + Lync) available in a common living area.  With Skype’s ability to dial-out to a phone line (i.e. PSTN), you have the power communicating anywhere:

Skype TV - Experience

Making PSTN calls from your TV is Liberating

As mentioned above, having my landline contacts available in my common area space was compelling. Imagining a future Skype and Lync enabled TV in every living room definitely brings “unified” to a whole new level in Unified Communications.

Here is a picture of an incoming home landline call from my Skype account. I am not sure why caller-id number is so bizarre but I obscured the last 4 digits in case it means something :-) .

Skype TV - Landline

Summary – Microsoft UC in your Living Room is Better on an Entertainment Console

While I await the evolution of Skype and Lync on the TV and see the merits of this, a better living room experience right now (and in the future) is on an entertainment device such as the Microsoft XBox One. The big advantage is the ability to leverage all the devices built-in to the entertainment console for communicating (e.g. camera, microphone, keyboard, gaming controllers).  The experience get’s really impressive when combined with motion detecting devices such as the Microsoft Kinect.

Here is a good YouTube demo of Xbox One including the Skype experience with the Kinect: Xbox One – Full Dashboard Overview with Yusuf Mehdi and Marc Whitten.

Of course the disadvantage is not all your contacts will have an XBox One, but as SMART TV’s replace regular TV’s, at least we can look forward to a greater unified experience.

The State of Lync Online – Features & Management Options

One of the advantages of the Microsoft cloud services (aka Office 365) is that it upgrades new features quickly – new service functionality is deployed to the cloud and available for consumption as soon as it is ready. Keeping up-to-date on what’s available can be a challenge, and I’ve been getting many questions lately about what management access is currently available in Lync Online (specifically PowerShell) and what Lync features are available (or are missing).

This blog post provides a quick feature overview of what is offered in the various Lync Online plans and dives into practical details and tips for managing Lync Online in the standard multi-tenant version of Office 365.  Here is why I will cover:

  • What Lync Online Plans and Features are Currently Available?
  • Lync Online Management
    • Managing Lync Online with PowerShell 101
    • Manage Exchange Online in the same PowerShell Console
    • Identical Lync Online and On-Premises Cmdlets
    • Lync Reporting Cmdlets in Exchange Online
    • Common PowerShell Errors
    • Lync Admin Center (LAC) and Reporting in the Office 365 Administration Portal

What Plans and Features are Currently Available?

An organization purchases Lync Online in the standard multi-tenant version of Office 365 in one of two ways:

  1. As part of a pre-packaged or customized Office 365 Plan subscription (e.g. “Office 365 Enterprise E1”)
  2. As a standalone Lync Online Service Plan (three plans are available – see Compare Lync options)

A table of available Lync functionality across the Office 365 and Standalone plans is available here: Lync Online Service Description. There is also a nifty interactive spreadsheet available which allows you to see feature availability across the plans: see the Office 365 TechCenter – Office 365 service comparison (note: I have noted a couple of errors in it so double-check specific features with other references).

Arguably the four most significant Lync Server 2013 on-premises features currently (November 2013) missing in the Lync Online plans are:

  1. Enterprise Voice.
  2. Persistent Chat.
  3. Unified Messaging (with Exchange Online and Exchange Server).
  4. Access to Call Detail Records (CDR).

Noteworthy Features Highlights:

  1. Lync Audio Conferencing (PSTN dial-in) is not currently included in the Lync Online Plans typically available in the Lync Online plans, but it can be purchased from Partner at an additional cost.
  2. Archiving is generally available and is done through Exchange (so a corresponding Exchange Online subscription or hybrid deployment with Exchange on-premises is required). Archiving is not available for P2P file transfers, audio/video conferencing, and application and desktop sharing.
  3. XMPP Federation is not available (e.g. Google Talk)
  4. Server-Side Recording and Playback is not available.
  5. The Lync VDI plug-in is not supported in an O365 environment.
  6. SharePoint skill search is currently not available in SharePoint and Lync Online.

Dedicated Lync Online Subscription Plans

There is a dedicated version of Lync Online offered by Microsoft. This is essentially a dedicated full version of Lync hosted by Microsoft. It is generally more expensive than the multi-tenant version of Office 365 but it has Enterprise Voice and Lync audio conferencing (without PSTN dial-in however).  Persistent Chat is not available.

More information about the Lync Online dedicates service plans can be found in the Lync Online Dedicated description on TechNet and the available features are described in the Lync Online Feature Availability.

Call Detail Record (CDR) Availability

The monitoring data, including CDR’s, is not available in any of the multi-tenant Lync Online plans. You cannot connect directly to any Lync Online database in any of the subscription plans.

The CDR and Archiving data and access to these database is available in the dedicated online subscription plans. You need to request the ability if you want to connect directly to these databases. See Accessing Lync Online Archiving and Monitoring Data for more information.

Lync Online Management

The current management options for Lync Online include:

  1. Remote PowerShell Access – this provides the most management functionality and granular capabilities.
  2. Exchange Online Cmdlets – five Lync Online reporting cmdlets are available if you have a corresponding Exchange Online subscription.
  3. Lync Admin Center (LAC) – this is a more simple web interface available through the Office 365 Administrator portal.

The TechNet article Lync Online administration and management features across Office 365 and standalone plans has a good overview and more details about what is available today.

Below I go into more detail about managing Lync Online with remote PowerShell and offer some practical tips.

Managing Lync Online with PowerShell 101

PowerShell access to a Lync Online tenant is made possible through a separate Lync Online module for PowerShell 3.0 (see Windows PowerShell Module for Lync Online).  This is ~8 Mb download in the form of an executable – just download and run it. This module has two key pre-requisites:

  1. Windows PowerShell 3.0
  2. Microsoft Online Services Sign-In Assistant for IT Professionals RTW (included with Windows 8)

Important notes:

  1. Windows 8 & 8.1 have all the necessary pre-requisites – only the Windows PowerShell Module for Lync Online needs to be installed and loaded in a PowerShell session that was started with Administrator credentials.
  2. The “Windows PowerShell Module for Lync Online” module does not actually contain any cmdlets. It acts as a connector, enabling the New-CsOnlineSession cmdlet work (see below) and brokering the Administrator credentials through the Online Services Sign-In Assistant.

PowerShell access to Lync Online is achieved through a regular remote PowerShell console session (i.e. it does not have to be in the Lync Management Shell).

The Lync Online cmdlets are only available in the remote PowerShell session established with the Lync Online tenant (the Lync Online cmdlets are actually downloaded and stored in memory for the duration of the session).

Start PowerShell (v3 or higher) and use the following three commands to establish a Lync Online session:

$cred = Get-Credential   (provide your Lync Online administrator credentials)

$lyncSession = New-CsOnlineSession -Credential $cred

Import-PSSession $lyncSession -AllowClobber

The last cmdlet imports the Lync Online session into the PowerShell console – including downloading all the Lync Online cmdlets. The AllowClobber parameter will avoid any warning that Lync Online cmdlets will clobber identically named on-premises cmdlets (they are the same cmdlet so it doesn’t matter).

There are currently 48 Lync Online cmdlets available and are described here:

To see all the Lync Online cmdlets that are available use the Get-Module cmdlet to get the name of the loaded Lync Online module (e.g. “tmp_cg1c1fct.ww2”) and then use the Get-Command cmdlet with this module name like this:

Get-Command –Module <LyncOnlineModuleName>

Manage Exchange Online in the same PowerShell Console

You can establish a remote PowerShell session to an associated Exchange Online tenant using the same Administrator credentials using the following 2 cmdlets:

> $exchangeSession = New-PSSession -ConfigurationName Microsoft.Exchange –ConnectionUri -Credential $cred -Authentication "Basic" –AllowRedirection

> Import-PSSession $exchangeSession

Helpful reminders:

  • You do not need to have any Exchange Management Tools installed locally.
  • If you try this from the Lync Server Management Shell you will likely received this error “New-PSSession : [] Connecting to remote server failed with the following error message : WinRM cannot complete the operation”.  Just do it from a regular PowerShell console (not the Lync Management Shell).

Here is a handy PowerShell script that will connect to both a Lync and Exchange Online tenant with the same Administrator credentials:

Write-Host Starting

$credential = Get-Credential ""

$lyncSession = New-CsOnlineSession -Credential $credential
Import-PSSession $lyncSession

$exchangeSession = New-PSSession -ConfigurationName Microsoft.Exchange -ConnectionUri -Credential $credential -Authentication "Basic" -AllowRedirection
Import-PSSession $exchangeSession

Write-Host "Do not forget to run these 2 cmdlets at the end of your session:"
Write-Host "–> Remove-PSSession $lyncSession"
Write-Host "–> Remove-PSSession $exchangeSession"

Identical Lync Online and On-Premises Cmdlets

If you are running a hybrid PowerShell session that is both connected to a Lync on-premises deployment and a Lync Online tenant you will want to be careful which Lync organization a cmdlet is running against!  It is generally recommended that you do not mix a Lync Online session with a Lync Management Shell on-premises session, but it is safe to do so with a little care.

Tip: the important thing to remember – unless the Tenant parameter is specified in the cmdlet, it will run against the connected Lync on-premises server.

All the Lync Online cmdlets accept a tenant parameter (which is an ugly looking GUID returned by the Get-CsTenant cmdlet). I recommend assigning a local PowerShell variable to be the tenant GUID like this:

$lyncId = Get-CsTenant | Select-Object guid

You can use this variable in other cmdlets to reference the online tenant. For example, this cmdlet would return the global Lync client policy for the Lync Online tenant:

Get-CsClientPolicy -Tenant $lyncId.guid

Lync Online Policy Restrictions

Lync Online ships with predefined policy instances for restricting or enabling features such as external access.  New policies can be created (e.g. external access policy) but attempting to grant a custom policy may result in an error such as “ is restricted for the user service plan: MCOProfessional and country: US combination”.

I believe the idea is to not allow certain Lync Online functionality in specific regions and plans but I have gotten this error with plans and in regions where this functionality should be allowed, so it appears there is a current limitation to only grant users one of the predefined policy instances that ship with your Lync Online subscription.  I am still investigating this.

I have a specific example and more information below in the “Common PowerShell Errors” section.

Lync Reporting Cmdlets in Exchange Online

There are currently 5 Lync Online reporting cmdlets available as part of the Exchange Online Cmdlet’s.  Why are they here?  These 5 cmdlets currently require an Exchange Online subscription and underneath the covers depend on Exchange Online. Here are the 5 cmdlets:

  1. Get-CsActiveUserReport : shows statistics about the number of active Lync Online users over time.
  2. Get-CsConferenceReport : shows statistics about the conferences held in Lync Online.
  3. Get-CsAVConferenceTimeReport : shows statistics about the duration (minutes) used by audio and video conferences.
  4. Get-CsP2PSessionReport : shows statistics about peer-to-peer sessions that took place in Lync Online.
  5. Get-CsP2PAVTimeReport : shows statistics about the duration of audio and video in peer-to-peer Lync Online sessions.

Here are some examples of what these cmdlets produce:


TenantName                                      Date                                    ActiveUsers
———-                                         —-                                    ———– 
CORP XYZ INCORPORATED                   11/1/2013 12:00:00 AM                  27
CORP XYZ INCORPORATED                   10/31/2013 12:00:00 AM                 29
CORP XYZ INCORPORATED                   10/30/2013 12:00:00 AM                 43
CORP XYZ INCORPORATED                   10/1/2013 12:00:00 AM                   44
CORP XYZ INCORPORATED                   9/24/2013 12:00:00 AM                   31
CORP XYZ INCORPORATED                   9/21/2013 12:00:00 AM                   33
CORP XYZ INCORPORATED                   9/20/2013 12:00:00 AM                   55


TenantName                        Date           TotalP2P..   P2PIM..    P2PAudio.. P2PVideo.. P2PApplica.. P2PFileTra..
———-                               —-            ———– ———- ———- ———- ———- ———-
CORP XYZ INCORPORATED     10/30/20…   23              23           14            8              9              0
CORP XYZ INCORPORATED     4/27/201…   21              20           17            1              6              1

Common PowerShell Errors

Session Timeout Error

I have gotten this error many times when I attempt to run a Lync Online cmdlet in a session that has been around for too long:

Exception calling "GetSteppablePipeline" with "1" argument(s): "Exception calling "PromptForCredential" with "4"
argument(s): "The length of the UserName should be less than 513.""
At C:\Users\administrator\AppData\Local\Temp\2\tmp_kp1sbcqw.sch\tmp_kp1sbcqw.sch.psm1:1470 char:13
+             $steppablePipeline = $scriptCmd.GetSteppablePipeline($myInvocation.C …

Based on experience a session seems to last for about 10-15 minutes before timing out.

The only way I found to fix this is restart Powershell and reestablish the session (I remove the current session before closing PowerShell for good measure).

Restriction Errors while Assigning an External Access Policy

Get-CsOnlineUser curtis.johnstone | Grant-CsExternalAccessPolicy -PolicyName Global

Cannot run the cmdlet: "Grant-CsExternalAccessPolicy" because it is restricted for the user service plan:
MCOProfessional and country: US combination.
    + CategoryInfo          : NotSpecified: (:) [Grant-CsExternalAccessPolicy], UnauthorizedAccessException
    + FullyQualifiedErrorId : System.UnauthorizedAccessException,Microsoft.Rtc.Management.AD.Cmdlets.AssignOcsExte
    + PSComputerName        :

You can create new external access policies, but you can only assign one of those default three – and the error messages suggests it Service Plan / Geographic region restriction:

“Cannot run the cmdlet: "Grant-CsExternalAccessPolicy" because it is restricted for the user service plan:
MCOProfessional and country: US combination”

The Get-CsExternalAccessPolicy policy supports an –ApplicableTo <user> parameter, and indeed it just lists those 3 policies for my users  (e.g. Get-CsExternalAccessPolicy -ApplicableTo curtis.johnstone)

“Get-CsExternalAccessPolicy -ApplicableTo curtis.johnstone” returns the following:

  1. FederationAndPICDefault
  2. FederationOnly
  3. NoFederationAndPIC

Lync Admin Center (LAC) and Lync Reporting in the Office 365 Administration Portal

As you are probably aware, basic administration and management of the Office 365 plan and Lync Online can be done through the Microsoft Office 365 Administration Portal (aka Office 365 admin center):

Tip: if you get security certificate errors when trying to login to this website, view the website Security Report by clicking the lock icon next to the address bar, and select View Certificates. If the Certificate Authority is “Baltimore CyberTrust Root” and this CA is untrusted follow the instructions at: Lync Online Service SSL certificate changes for client connectivity.  Alternatively you can install this root CA directly from the View Certificates dialog if you are absolutely sure it is legit.

From the O365 Admin Portal you can access the Lync Admin Center for basic Lync Online Administration:


From the O365 Admin Portal you can also access the recently released Lync Online reports (click on “reports” in the left-hand dashboard). Currently available reports include the following:


The Office 365 services, including Lync Online, are rapidly improving so check the Office 365 Service Updates regularly for updates: Office 365 Service Upgrades and Service Updates.



Name & Link Notes
Using Windows PowerShell to Manage Lync Online The primary Microsoft TechNet resource for managing Lync Online with PowerShell. Contains everything you need.
Lync Online Cmdlets Microsoft TechNet reference for all available Microsoft Online cmdlets (for multi-tenant Office 365 subscriptions).
Exchange Online Cmdlets – Reporting The Reporting category has the Lync Online reporting cmdlets
Automatically Connecting to Lync Online Whenever You Start Windows PowerShell A nice write-up on automatically connecting to Lync online when you start PowerShell.
Managing Lync Online and Microsoft Exchange from the Same Remote Windows PowerShell Session A nice article similar to my script on how to connect to Lync and Exchange Online with the same credentials.
Lync Online Administration and Management Starting page for managing Lync Online
Accessing Lync Online Archiving and Monitoring Data Describes access to the CDR and archiving data in the Lync Online dedicate offering.
Office 365 Service Upgrades and Service Updates Links to service update descriptions for various plans.