February 19, 2013 Updates:
- A whole new set of Lync 2013 mobile clients were released. See New Lync 2013 Mobile Clients & VOIP have Arrived.
October 2012 Updates:
- Microsoft Lync 2013 Released to TechNet and MSDN: http://blog.insidelync.com/2012/10/microsoft-lync-2013-released-to-technet-and-msdn/
- Microsoft Lync 2013 has Released to Manufacturing. See here for more details: Microsoft Lync 2013 – Ready for Takeoff!
- You can download the standalone Office 2013 Preview MSI packages, which includes the Lync 2013 Client Preview on MSDN at: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-US/evalcenter/hh973389.aspx. The MSI download link is at the very bottom of the page.
As part of Microsoft’s announcements today regarding the release of Microsoft Office 2013 Preview, details and a preview of the next release of Microsoft Lync - Microsoft Lync 2013 – were released along with a preview of both the new client and the server. Check-back to this post often – I will be updating it regularly.
The Lync 2013 Client
More information about the Microsoft Lync 2013 Preview can be found here: http://lync.microsoft.com/en-us/Pages/Lync-2013-Preview.aspx.
You can install an evaluation preview of the Lync 2013 client as part of the “Microsoft Office 365 ProPlus Preview”: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/evalcenter/hh973391.
Important notes about this Lync 2013 client preview:
- Once installed, you can use this Lync 2013 client preview to connect to a Lync 2010 on-premises server.
- You can install the Lync 2013 Preview (and the Office 2013 Preview) side-by-side with the Lync 2010 client (and Office 2010). See Getting Started with the Lync 2013 & Office 365 Preview for more information.
- Tip: on one machine I had to manually exit the running instance of the Lync 2010 client after installing the Office 2013 Preivew (including Lync 2013) and manually kill the “communicator*32.exe” process before the Lync 2013 Preview application would successfully start.
- You will need to sign-in with a live-id and fill-out a small form to register for an Office 365 Preview. See Getting Started with the Lync 2013 & Office 365 Preview for more information.
- This will allow you to sign-in to a custom Office 365 trial subscription where you can choose to install (not download) the Office 2013 software – including the Lync 2013 client.
- You can also install this preview client by signing up for a trial Office 365 Small Business Premium or Office 365 Enterprise subscription.
- The Lync 2013 Preview client runs as the process “Lync.exe”.
Here are the big ticket items from my perspective:
- “Federation with Skype”. Lync 2013 will support IM, Presence, and peer-to-peer capabilities with Skype users. My understanding is the an on-premises Lync 2013 server will need to federate with Skype first (or an Office 365 Lync online tenant). This is huge. I have not tried this yet, but when you subscribe to Office 2013 in Office 365 (you get ‘Office 2378’ :–)) it includes 60 minutes of Skype every month (credit to Tommy Clarke).
- Note: as of Aug 6, 2012 Skype federation has not been released yet (that I am aware of). Some think that the public DNS SRV record(s) for Skype will need to be present (e.g. _sipfederationtls._tcp.skype.com).
- Chat Room Integration. No more separate group chat client!
- VDI Plug-In. The Lync 2013 client supports audio and video in a VDI environment such as Remote Desktop. The plug-in is a standalone application that installs on the local host computer and handles the pairing of the Lync 2013 client running on the virtual image. For more information: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/jj204683(v=ocs.15).
- Note: as of Aug 6, 2012 the VDI plug-in is not available to the public.
- New Tabbed Conversations Feature. Multiple IM sessions, calls, and chat room sessions are in one conversation windows in multiple tabs. This will make it much easier to manage all those communication sessions.
- The Lync Web App now supports audio and video. Users who do not have the full Lync client installed (e.g. mostly for users outside of your organization) can now participate in Lync conferences with audio and video with just the browser plug-in that comprises the Lync Web App.
The other big piece of functionality is support for the Video Gallery view for video conferencing. This is Microsoft’s answer to the ‘Hollywood square’ experience that many organizations want. It contains a top row of up to 5 active speakers, and a second row of photo’s containing more than 5 participants that are less active.
Of course, it will run on all Windows 8 devices (and a range of other devices).
A couple of practical tips:
- In this preview release the logging and tracing files are stored at: C:\Users\<username>\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Office\15.0\Lync\Tracing (courtesy of Doug Deitterick’s blog).
There are known compatibility issues between Lync Preview and Visual Studio 2012 RC when installing Office 2013Preview via MSI.
The Lync 2013 Server
Also, the Microsoft Lync 2013 Server Preview has also been released. Read about it and download the preview here: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-US/evalcenter/hh973393.aspx?wt.mc_id=TEC_118_1_33.
A couple of notes about this preview version:
- It is available in 64-bit and 3 languages.
- It downloads as an ISO file, so you will need to unpack it to install it (Microsoft has a free tool for this, or I use and like MagicISO Virtual CD/DVD Manager).
- There are a couple of pre-requisite installs such as .NET 4.5 RC or greater than you will need to install first – they are included and the installer will walk you through it.
- You will need to uninstall any existing Lync 2010 server bits or the installer will give an error “A different version of this product is currently installed”.
Here are some significant new server side features from my perspective:
- Group Chat now becomes Persistent Chat and it is now a fully integrated Lync server role and the administration is built into the Lync Control Panel. The main persistent chat services run on the front-end role.
- Persistent Chat and Response Groups can be controlled through the normal Lync RBAC roles.
- High Availability (HA) can be Achieved with Lync pools – if a server role in one pool fails, another server role can handle the traffic from the failed server.
- Instant Messaging with Google Talk is available without a special gateway via the XMPP integration is built into the Front End and Edge servers.
- Directors roles are optional. The Lync server Director role is officially an optional server role now. It is formally acknowledged that the Front-Ends can do the traffic redirecting if need be. The Director role still has value and should be considered in many cases.
- Archiving – any document (PowerPoint, Whiteboards, and Attachments) that are used in a Lync conference can be archived into an Exchange 2013 data store (if Exchange integration is enabled).
- Unified Contact Store. This has been discussed for many releases now, but it appears there is a true unified contact store that allows users to keep all of their contact information in Exchange Server 2013, and Lync and Exchange use this for their contact lists. Users can manage their contacts from Lync 2013, Outlook 2013, or Outlook 2013 Web App. This will enabled by default but can be disabled for groups or individuals.
- True High Definition Video (1080P) in two-party and multi-party video conference calls.
- Lync 2013 will Support the industry Video Standard H.264 AVC/SVC. As Jeff Schertz points out in his excellent post on this subject however, this does not mean Lync 2013 will be “..able to connect to any existing standards-based video conferencing systems”. It will mean a greater range of resolutions, frame rates, and improvement for video scalability.
Also noteworthy: it appears that only side-by-side migration and co-existence will be supported with OCS 2007 R2 and Lync 2010, but not OCS 2007 R1. You can read more about this here: Supported Server Migration Paths and Coexistence Scenarios.
- Previews of all the Office 2013 Applications: http://www.microsoft.com/office/preview/en/try-more-products
- Webcast: Steve Ballmer Announcement: http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/news/presskits/office/liveevent.aspx