Lync Summer 2013 Roundup

Many folks are doing what I did this week – returning from vacation and catching up on what’s new in the world of Lync.  If you have been in-and-out this summer, this post provides a high level run down of what is new and significant in the Lync world in July and August.

Updates for the Lync 2013 Server & Client

July kicked off with significant updates for both the server and client. If you have not rolled these out yet, pay special attention to the Important Notes below for the client updates (although Windows Update has hopefully taken care of all the updating by now).

July 2013 Updates (aka CU2) for the Lync 2013 Desktop Client

Although this update is described as a ‘security update’ (see Microsoft TechNet – MS13-054: Description of the security update for Lync 2013: July 9, 2013) it is a significant cumulative update that introduced four noteworthy features:

Debbie Arbeeny, Lync Program Manager, does a great job explaining all the feature enhancements that were introduced (see July 2013 Updates for the Lync 2013 Desktop Client for more information).

Two Important Notes:

  1. Ths Lync July 2013 client update relies on icons that are shipped in several corresponding Microsoft Office 2013 updates. As fellow Lync MVP Ken Lasko points out, this can result in ‘icon weirdness’ if the corresponding Office 2013 updates are not installed (see July 2013 Update for Lync 2013 Icon Weirdness by Ken Lasko). Windows update classifies the July 2013 Lync client update as critical and the corresponding Office 2013 updates as optional, so the Office updates could be missed. The necessary Office 2013 updates are listed in the Download Information section of the Lync client update: MS13-054: Description of the security update for Lync 2013: July 9, 2013.  Be sure to install them, or as Ken says “make sure you run Windows Update not just once, but TWICE to ensure you get all the updates necessary for Lync 2013 to work properly” if you experience any issues.
  2. Two major features introduced in this update: “IM Mute” and “Q&A Manager” also require the July Lync Server update.

August 2013 Update for the Lync 2013 Desktop Client

In mid-August an update was released for both the x32 and x64 bit clients that contained a couple of bug fixes, most notably a fix for the Lync client being slow and unusable when waking up from hibernation mode.

You can read about this update and download it here: Description of the Lync 2013 update 15.0.4517.1504: August 2013.

July 2013 Updates for the Lync 2013 Server

Microsoft NextHop provides a summary of this server update: see Cumulative Update for Lync 2013: July 2013 (by Tim Rich). You can download the update here: Lync Server 2013 Cumulative Update KB 2809243.

If you have not installed this server-side update yet, I highly recommend you read Lync MVP Brian Ricks blog post about additional steps and safety measures introduced in this update: see Microsoft has released CU July 2013 for Lync Server 2013.

In addition to updates for the server, several Lync server-side tools also got updates:

A final note on updates. It has been awhile since I visited the Microsoft TechCenter for downloads.  It looks revamped and it is really easy to find all the downloads and updates for the Lync and Office Communications Server (OCS) products – client and server: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/lync/dn146015.

Newsworthy

There is always plenty of chatter in the Lync and UC space, but these four events were the most newsworthy in my mind.

Lync Server 2013 Now Support SQL Clustering

The lack of full support for SQL clustering in Lync Server 2013 was a bone of contention for many people. Lync Server 2013 now supports both SQL mirroring (as it always was) or SQL clustering for each Lync Server database. This holds true for new Lync 2013 deployments and ones that have upgraded from previous versions of Lync.

SQL mirroring is configured in the Lync Server 2013 Topology Builder, and the SQL Server setup is used to configure SQL clustering.

See Microsoft TechNet – Lync Server 2013 Database Software Support for more information.

Lync MCM Richard Brynteson has a article on whether you whether to mirror or cluster – see “Lync + SQL: should I mirror or should I cluster”.

The Lync Conference 2014 was Announced

Microsoft announced that the Lync Conference 2014 is scheduled for Las Vegas on February 18-20, 2013. This will bring together customers, partners, and a wide range of experts for the latest and greatest in Lync world. The conference web site is http://www.lyncconf.com/. Much of the conference details (including session content) is not yet available (as of Aug 27th).

Outlook.com and Skype Come Together

The ability to make Skype audio and video calls directly from you Outlook.com inbox was previewed earlier this spring, but it has been rolled out in production now in the US, Canada, UK, Germany, Brazil and France (as of August 2013). And although the Windows version of Skype already provided some rudimentary integration with the Windows Outlook client, two things are important here:

  1. Skype now seamlessly integrates with Microsoft’s free email service – ala Outlook.com. This is a compelling mostly-free UC stack being offered by Microsoft.
  2. This is the first time Skype has run in a browser (to my knowledge). As Matt Landis points out (see Skype Now Runs In The Browser: Sans-WebRTC & Via Outlook.com) this is noteworthy because this is a big step in the WebRTC direction – setting the stage for Skype (and maybe Lync) to run in the browser, anytime, anywhere and seamlessly integrating with Web applications. Note: a 4Mb browser plug-in is required.

As Adam Folwer writes, this has raised questions along the lines of “Why Bother With Lync if Skype is Free?”.  And he correctly points about the differences between Skype being a consumer oriented offering, and Lync an enterprise offering with associated enterprise features such as more flexibility as an Enterprise voice solution, IT controls, and control over your environment.

A final note, if you are a regular Outlook.com user and also run the native Skype client user, there have been some complaints about the user experience such as too many incoming call pop-ups. Paul Thurrott has some perspective on this: Microsoft Announces Skype for Outlook.com.

Lync – Now A Billion Dollar Business for Microsoft

As Lync MVP Tom Arbuthnot first reported at the end of July, Lync is now a billion dollar business for Microsoft! See Microsoft FY13 Q4 Earnings: #Lync now a Billion Dollar Business by Tom Arbuthnot.  This is significant milestone marker for the product imho – it’s come a long way from Live Communication Server – and represents the traction it is getting in the enterprise.

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