Persistent Chat with Multiple Front-End Sites and Pools

A quick post about a misleading error you might experience in a Lync Server 2013 topology with one Persistent Chat Pool servicing multiple sites and front-end pools. Using one Persistent Chat (PS) pool for multiple sites or pools is a supported Topology configuration, but the errors outlined in this blog post are triggered after deploying Persistent Chat, or a new Lync Site using an existing PS Pool, and forgetting to set a Persistent Chat Site or Pool policy. I assume this experience is the same with Skype for Business Server, but I have not verified that.

Forgetting to set the Persistent Chat Policy can be tricky because to the end-user, the Persistent Chat functionality will show up as available in the client, but an erroneous error message will be shown that says “Your chat room access may be limited due to an outage” as shown in the screen shot below:


When a user attempt to enter a Persistent Chat room, they will receive this error:


From an Administrative point of view this can be easily overlooked because the bulk of the PS chat configuration is done in the Topology Builder. However, there is a group of PS Chat administrative settings in the Lync Control Panel (and also available through Lync cmdlets) that should be configured during your deployment.  Specifically pay attention to the “Persistent Chat Policy” tab on the Lync Control Panel. Users must be enabled for Persistent Chat either Globally or with specific policies for each site or pool. Many deployments do not enable Persistent Chat globally, so a PS Chat policy per site which PS Chat enabled is required.


Another aspect that can get overlooked by Administrators is that if the Persistent Chat policy set on Lync user accounts is set to “Automatic” – the default – Lync will use the most granular PS Chat policy that applies, which will be a Pool or Site specific policy (if one exists).  If this is the case and a Lync user account is moved from a site or pool with PS Chat enabled to a site or pool with no PS Chat policy defined, they will get the errors shown in the first two screen shots above.

Enabling Skype for Business Users to Join a Conference via “Call Me At”

A scenario I have come across several times and usually forget the answer to is:

What configuration does a Lync user require to be enabled for the ‘Call me at’ conference feature?  

In this post I will address that question and some common end-user challenges with using this feature.

If you are not familiar with it, the ability to join a conference using the “Call me at” option it is a powerful communication feature. In Microsoft Skype for Business (SfB) and Lync, it allows end-users joining a SfB conference call (i.e. participants) to join the audio portion of the call by having the SfB server call out to whatever number the user specifies. This could be their cell phone, desk phone, or any manually specified phone number – provided the user is enabled for it, and as the Enterprise Voice feature set has been deployed.

When the user launches a Skype meeting, they are presented with some options to join the audio portion of the meeting as shown below. This screen shot shows one of the first sources of confusion – the “Call me at” drop-down box of numbers appears blank:


I have yet to determine if this is a SfB system configuration but I have seen it in the field several times. If this holds true for you, the best solution is user awareness, and fortunately once they click on the “Call me at” option (radio button), they will see a choice of numbers as shown here:


Another challenge with this feature is that if the end-user is not configured on the back-end server (Lync Server 2013 used here), the end-user experience is confusing. Even though the SfB client will allow the user select this join method, it will produce a generic error as shown here:


If you are seeing this error, check to make sure the user is enabled in the Skype for Business (SfB) or Lync Server 2013 deployment. And what settings enable them to use this feature?

Two system settings can be used to enable this conference join option. This is an “either / or” situation.  If they are enabled for either of these settings, they will be able to join conference audio using the “Call me at:” feature:

  1. Enterprise Voice, or,
  2. Conference Policy Setting (“Allow participants not enabled for Enterprise Voice to dial out”)

For the Enterprise Voice setting, if the user is enabled for “Enterprise Voice” in the Telephony setting of their account, they will have this capability regardless of the Conferencing policy setting. The setting for Enterprise Voice is in the user account in the Lync/SfB Control Panel:


The Lync/SfB Server Conferencing Policy setting which will also give a user this capability is the “Allow participants not enabled for Enterprise Voice to dial out”. It is available in the Lync/SfB Conferencing Policy setting in the Administrative Control Panel as shown below.  Lync/SfB policies can apply at different levels (Global, Site, User) so ensure that whatever policy you enable this setting with, is the effective policy applied to the user accounts you want to enable this feature for.


Any SfB user with this Conference policy setting enabled will be able to join via the “Call me at” option even if they are NOT enabled for enterprise voice.

The only other question around this feature is usually from Administrators who want to know how to control which numbers the end-user is given as choices. This is controlled by the same number options that show up in the Lync/SfB address book.

Happy Skyping,

Skype for Business Mobile Client Preview Release

Details of the Skype for Business mobile client were announced today, along with an associated preview program here: Both Skype for Business online and on-premises (Lync and Skype) can sign-up for the preview program if the mobile features are deployed today. To participate, either an IT administrator or tenant administrator nominates 4 of their end-users here:

Each participate is identified by name with their device type and OS version, and individual instructions are sent to them to participate.

In addition to the details in the Microsoft Office blog post, are are some details to clarify common questions:

  1. The Skype for Business mobile client replaces (upgrades) the Lync 2013 mobile app on iOS and Android when the end-user upgrades the app from the store.
  2. The Skype for Business mobile client replaces will GA later this fall.  It will be a one-way upgrade – no rolling back.
  3. The Skype for Business mobile client will work against a Lync 2013 Server, but not a Lync 2010 Server.
  4. The Lync 2010 mobile client will be a separate mobile client and will be kept and maintained separately.
  5. Windows Phone users can already download the Skype for Business Windows Phone App here:

The new mobile client follows the same new streamlined UI and workflow theme of the thick client.  Looking forward to giving it a whirl!

Skype for Business News

In case you missed it, on the eve of Microsoft Ignite, the Skype for Business Server 2015 build has been officially released – the RTM version is available for download on MSDN (thanks to fellow MVP Jeff Schertz for alerting me to this):


The download is 1.4 GB. Just a reminder, it is an in-place upgrade from Lync Server 2013 with no additional hardware requirements.

The TechNet documentation was released a couple of days ago and is available here:

Fellow MVP Matt Landis has already done a nice job on a Step by Step Skype for Business Server 2015 In Place Upgrade blog post.

And lastly, Microsoft has already updated the Key Health Indicators for the new Skype release – available here: Key Health Indicators for Lync Server 2013 and Skype for Business Server 2015.

The Skype for Business Client UI Controller Script

As you are probably aware, Microsoft rolled-out the new Skype for Business client as an Office 2013 in the form of 2 update for the Lync 2013 client (KB2889853 and KB2889923). Just apply the latest Office Professional Plus 2013 updates, and you will get the Skype for Business client update.

Most of you are aware that the UI can either run as the Lync 2013 look-and-feel, or the new Skype for Business look-and-fell (if you are not familiar with it, do a quick search, or visit one of the many good write-up’s like fellow Lync MVP Tom Arbuthnot’s write-up here: Important Changes coming to the Lync 2013 Client UI/UX in the April 2015 Client Patch). In a nutshell, the type of UI ‘skin’ that is used depends on a combination of backend server version, optional server-side client policy, and a registry key.

I ended up writing a quick script to flip the registry value so I could switch back-and-forth for various reasons (testing, helping users). I used this script enough myself that I thought the community would benefit from it.

The purpose of the SFB client registry key is primarily for the first run of the SFB client – i.e. controlling whether the Lync or SFB UI is displayed – until the client policy governs the behavior after the first run.  However, if no policy is set and Lync Server 2010/2013 is being used on-premises, you can use this script to keep reverting back to the Skype for Business Client if it is desired – until a policy is set.

I put the script in an HTML file and use embedded Javascript running under the Windows Host Script to flip the registry value so anyone can quickly make this change if they desire.  You can access the script here:

Specifically the script will do the following.

  1. It checks to see if the Skype for Business UI registry value exists (e.g. “HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Office\Lync\EnableSkypeUI”).
  2. If it does NOT exist, it creates it with a default value of “1” – which is the binary value for enabling the Skype for Business client UI experience.
  3. If the registry value DOES exist, it changes the value to be the alternate UI.  For example:
    • If the value is set to use the Lync UI (i.e. “00 00 00 00”), it will change the value to Enable the Skype for Business UI by setting the registry value to “01 00 00 00”.
    • If the value is set to use the Skype for Business UI (i.e “01 00 00 00”), it will change the value to Enable the Lync UI by setting the registry value to “00 00 00 00”.

You need access to your registry for this script to work.

Caveat: I hesitated releasing this little script because it does modify the registry on a Windows host/client. I will include the standard ‘registry modification’ disclaimer with this:

Warning: this script modifies the Windows registry (if the current logged on user has permission to do so). If you are not familiar with editing the registry, or are not sure, do not attempt to run it.

I take no responsible for any issues this may cause. Having said all of that, it is tested and I cannot see any harm that it could cause!

Enough warnings, hope it helps.

The Skype for Business Client–What you Need to Know

The past few weeks have been a flurry of activity on the Skype for Business front. If you’ve been busy like me, this post will tell you just what you need to know, clear up some confusion, and get you started with the new Skype for Business client.

A Technical Preview of the new Skype for Business Client is Available

The most significant news is that a Technical Preview of the next release of the Lync client was made available. The new version is rebranded as the Skype for Business (“SfB”) client.  Here is what you need to know:

  • This is the Lync client under the covers, but it is available with a new optional UI skin that looks like the Skype Consumer client.
  • When it is officially released in April, the SfB client will be distributed via a Windows Update (a Cumulative Update in Office 2013).
  • When it is released, it is not known yet what the default UI skin will be (the new Skype look, or the Lync look).  There are registry key entries and a Lync server side setting that can control which UI is displayed.
  • Because it is the Lync client under the covers, it has the look and feel of the Skype consumer client but the security and management controls of the Lync client.
  • This Microsoft Office Support Article has some good links to get your users up and running with the SfB Preview Client – Skype for Business change management and adoption.
  • Do not confuse this release with the Skype for Business client experience in the Office 2016 Preview – which is a longer leading initiative that will not be released until the second half 2015.

Details of the Technical Preview

  • Download for North America:
  • Outside of North America:
  • Noteworthy:
    • You’ll need to sign-in with a Microsoft Account
    • There is a 64 and 32-bit download – I recommend using the one that matches your Office Version
    • It is an update to the Lync 2013 client MSI.
    • It is a 270 Mb trial which expires May 1, 2015
    • I’ve had troubles downloading this in non-IE browsers (“HTTP Error 400. The size of the request headers is too long”). IE seems to work.
  • FAQ:
    • Can I run the Skype for Business Technical Preview with Office 2010?   Yes.
    • Can I run the Skype for Business Technical Preview with Microsoft Lync Server 2010?  Yes.
    • Can I run the Lync 2013 Client side-by-side with the SfB Client?   No – the SfB client is an upgrade to your existing Lync 2013 client (replaces it)

The new Skype for Business Client, Server, and Online service will be Generally Available in April.

  • This is essentially the release date for Skype for Business that we have been waiting for – not far off!

Office 2016 is available in preview is Available

  • Microsoft recently announced the Office 2016 IT Pro and Developer Preview.
  • Among other things, this preview contains a release of the Skype for Business experience that is different from the Skype for Business client being released in April and in Technical Preview today. It will not be released until the second half of 2015 as part of the next version of Office for Windows desktop.

More Information

There is a lot of information available on what the new SfB client UI looks like, changes in functionality from the current Lync client, and how to change the UI look-and-feel between Skype-mode and Lync-mode:

New Skype for Business Information and Training Available

I’ve fielded a lot of questions about the next release of Microsoft Lync Server – rebranded as Skype for Business – in the last few months.  The questions have been difficult to answer because public information has been limited up to this point. Microsoft recently announced that Skype for Business Training is being rolled into the Office 365 Summit series

This training includes information about the next release of Lync (SFB) including the following:

Skype for Business Summit 2

You can read more information about it here:

If you cannot attend in person, there are many Skype for Business Webcasts you can sign-up for and attend by registering here:, including:

  • Introduction
  • New Windows Desktop Experience
  • Reference Architecture and Design Considerations
  • Manageability Improvements Overview
  • In-Place Upgrade Deep-dive
  • SQL Always On Deep-dive Wednesday
  • Server Core Improvements Overview
  • Reliability & Patching Deep-dive
  • Hybrid Configuration Deep-dive
  • New Meeting & Web Investments Overview
  • Video Interop Server Deep-dive
  • Lync/Skype Federation (Phase 2)
  • Lessons Learned from Preview
  • Software Defined Networks (SDN)
  • Developer Platform

This training and information will cover some key feature enhancements such as:

  1. Support for In-place upgrades
  2. Call via work (expanded)
  3. SQL Always On
  4. New Video Interop capabilities
  5. More Lync/Skype Federation (i.e. ‘’Phase 2”)
  6. Better support for Software Defined Networking

Lync to be Rebranded as “Skype for Business”

It is official – the next version of Lync is being renamed “Skype for Business” in the first half of 2015!

The news was released today on Skype’s main blog:

Introducing Skype for Business

“In the first half of 2015, the next version of Lync will become Skype for Business with a new client experience, new server release, and updates to the service in Office 365. We believe that Skype for Business will again transform the way people communicate by giving organizations reach to hundreds of millions of Skype users outside the walls of their business”.

What you need to know:

  1. There will still be two distinct products: Skype for Business and Skype for Consumers.
  2. Skype for Business does not “replace” Lync; rather the next release of the on-premises version of Microsoft Lync Server and the Microsoft Lync Client will be renamed to “Skype for Business”.
  3. The Lync product stays the same under the covers – all the components, technology, infrastructure, and associated capabilities stay as Lync – just the name changes.
  4. Microsoft will continue to make Skype for Business and Skype for Consumers interoperate (i.e. communicate) with each other – ultimately aiming for a seamless experience whether you are at work or at home. Today instant messaging, audio, and video are supported.
  5. Skype for Business (aka Lync :-) ) will have the ability to use the Skype Directory directly from the next release of the Lync Client!  This will make it much easier to add Skype contacts and communicate with them.
  6. The new Skype for Business client will visually look more like the existing Skype client (e.g. theme, icons and workflow) but with all the capabilities of the current Lync client.
  7. Upgrading to the next version of Lync Server (aka Skype for Business) will require no new hardware from a Lync Server 2013 requirements standpoint.

Here is the video introducing Skype for Business:

From the Skype blog, here is a screenshot if the ‘new’ Skype for Business client (Lync vNext client):


For more perspective on how this aligns with Microsoft’s Universal Communication strategy see Microsoft To Rename Lync as ‘Skype for Business’ Next Year in Redmond Magazine.

Basic Requirements for Enabling a Lync User for PSTN Dial-In Conferencing

The world of UC and Lync is complex – especially when it comes down to remembering specific details of what configuration is required to enable specific feature sets. One of the goals of this blog has always been to make it extremely easy to remember basic important details at a moments notice.

Recently I had to reacquaint myself (again!) with the steps for enabling a user for PSTN dial-in conferencing.

Once the Lync system is completely configured and able to host PSTN dial-in conferences, the four key requirements you need to remember about enabling a Lync user are:

  1. They do NOT need to be enabled for Enterprise Voice.
  2. To DO need a LINE URI set.
  3. They DO need a Dial Plan assigned.
  4. They DO need a Lync Conferencing Policy assigned which has “EnableDialInConferencing” set.
    • This conference policy also determines whether users can use specific functionality during a conference such as invite anonymous participants. See the Lync Conferencing Policy Parameters for all the conferencing options.

I always seem to forget #2. And for reference, when #2 is not set, but the user is enabled for dial-conferencing, the user will get the following error message when trying to set their dial-in conferencing PIN:


Fully deploying dial-in conferencing for a Lync deployment is a much broader subject – worthy of several blog posts – but from the point of view of enabling a user in a smaller deployment, one of the most important things to understand is the relationship between the Enterprise Voice feature set and the Dial-In Conferencing feature set.

The key here is you that while you do not need to completely deploy Enterprise Voice, you do need enable Lync to receive incoming PSTN calls, configure and assign Lync Dial Plans, and ensure that the Dial Plans have regions assigned to them. The regions associate conference dial-in access numbers with the dial plans.

A good checklist summary for deploying PSTN dial-in conferencing is described in this Microsoft TechNet article: Deployment checklist for dial-in conferencing in Lync Server 2013.

Lastly, be sure that the Online Meeting Outlook Add-In for Lync is deployed and available for your users. This add-in makes it really easy for users to schedule a dial-in conference – the dial-in information is added to the meeting invite when the user schedules a Lync meeting in Outlook. For Lync 2013, the add-in is installed automatically when the full Lync 2013 client is installed.  The meeting invitation can be customized (see Configuring the meeting invitation in Lync Server 2013 for more information).

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.