5 Tips to Improve Skype for Business Wi-Fi Performance

This article offers 5 tips to increase overall performance for Skype for Business (Sfb) over Wi-Fi at home or a Public Hotspot. These tips were created from my own experiences at home and using Wi-Fi in different circumstances. 

Delivering a good SfB Wi-Fi experience in the enterprise is a much larger topic with more infrastructure and configuration options and recommendations. A good start here is Microsoft’s Guide “Ensuring an Enterprise Class Wireless Skype for Business Experience” which provides end to end planning, best practices, and proactive maintenance and operations to deliver enterprise grade Wireless Skype for Business service.

Here are the 5 tips I will discuss:

  1. Make Sure the Gas Tank Isn’t Empty
  2. Use a Dedicated 5 GHz Wireless Band if Possible
  3. Try a Different Wi-Fi Channel
  4. Consider Implementing Quality of Service (QoS)
  5. Still Having Issues … Ditch the Wi-Fi

 

Tip 1 – Make Sure the Gas Tank Isn’t Empty

Diagnosing and resolving Wi-Fi issues can be really challenging.  Ensuring these basic pre-requisites are met will greatly increase the chances of success:

  1. Keep Skype for Business Clients Up To Date.  This sounds like advice your mother would give you, but it really can help – especially with the SfB mobile clients. Update an Windows desktop clients in use to the latest-and-greatest via Windows Update.
  2. Ensure there is Adequate Network Connectivity from the Wireless Access Point (WAP) / Router to the Internet!  I’ve lost track on the number of times I was trying to diagnose a Wi-Fi issue, and it the real problem was a temporarily internet outage on the Internet Service Provider (ISP). The Windows Network Troubleshooting tool will usually identity whether it is a problem with the Internet connection, or to be sure, test connectivity from a wired device (pointing your browser to http://fast.com is an easy and convenient method to test the connectivity and download speed).
  3. Ensure you have Adequate Bandwidth. Support for real-time communications that use real-time media such as audio, video, conferencing require, above all, a consistent and reliable network stream to work well. Bandwidth is not the same as ‘stability’ (i.e. low latency and jitter), but when bandwidth is congested, network reliability will suffer.  The more bandwidth, the better. One often overlooked bandwidth requirement is upload (or uplink) bandwidth. It is often overlooked because many ISP’s offer a fraction of upload speed compared to download speed. Microsoft’s recommends a consistent 1.5 Mbps of consistent uplink bandwidth to support real time communications. In my experience, I can have good quality audio, video, & conferencing Skype sessions with as little as 800 Kbps but your mileage may vary.
  4. Use a Good Quality Network Interface Card (NIC) and Wi-Fi Router.
    • Most Wireless NIC’s shipped with desktops and laptops in the last 3-4 years have an adequate NIC. However performance and stability differ between.
      • If Wi-Fi issues occur on multiple Wi-Fi networks (e.g. your neighbourhood coffee shop, work, and your friends Wi-Fi network), take a look at your NIC, and make sure it has the latest drivers installed.
      • Performance – newer cards supporting the 802.11n with multiple antenna support typically offer the best performance (Intel has a good article here explaining this Multiple-Input Multiple-Output technology).
    • For your Wireless Access Point (WAP) / Router, I highly recommend newer models that support dual-band (2.4 GHz and 5 GHz).  They are engineered to support many devices connected at once.  If you add up all the Wi-Fi enabled devices in your home, you will likely be very surprised at just home many there are.  Using a router which supports the new 802.11n and 802.11ac standards will generally give much more network throughput than the older 802.11a and 802.11g.
  5. Consider Bluetooth Device Interference.  In theory Bluetooth devices can interfere with Wi-Fi communications. I have a wireless mouse and keyboard and have not really noticed a difference, but this is something to consider if you have many Bluetooth devices.

 

Tip 2 – Use a Dedicated 5 GHz Wireless Band if Possible

Many routers are multi-purpose devices (acting as wireless access points (WAP) for a variety of devices, DHCP servers, and firewalls).  Worse, as a WAP, most run with one ‘network’ (SSID) that all devices (smart phones, tablets, TV’s, etc..) connect to. In this scenario, the real-time voice and video traffic Skype for Business uses is competing with, and prioritized the same as, the Netflix cartoon your children are watching and the firmware your Smart TV is doing … among other things.

If the router supports ‘dual band’, that means it can support essentially two separate wireless networks simultaneously on different Radio Frequency (RF) bands.  The two bands are 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz.

To help real-time applications perform well, it can make a big difference to dedicate one wireless network (SSID) to devices running real-time applications and move all the other devices to the other 2.4 GHz wireless band.

The 5 GHz band is preferred because it offers less interference with other consumer products such as cordless phones. The trade-off is the 5 GHz band usually has less range than the 2.4 GHz range. Your range however will depend greatly on the location of the router and the device connecting to it. Having a clear-line-of-site from the client to the WAP will increase the range.

What about wireless range extenders?

Many people consider adding a wireless range extender – especially if their work area typically does not have clear-line-of-sight to the WAP. Generally this will not help for real-time media because these extenders increase network latency and jitter. I have had good results with an extender that plug’s into a power wall socket and uses Ethernet over Power to get to the WAP / Router. Bottom line though, you are probably relocating your router, or investing in a better one with better antenna range.

What about adding a second dedicate router?

This might seem like overkill, but it seemed like a good idea to me!  With a growing number of Wi-Fi enabled devices in my house, I added a newer second Wi-Fi router capable of better handling simultaneous connections and the latest 802.11 standards to combat my intermittent poor voice performance and dropped connections – mostly on my laptop running Windows 10 and the Windows version of Skype for Business.  The result?  It did not help, and the performance actually got worse!

This is when I started to learn about 802.11 channel congestion… which is the perfect segue into the next Tip.

 

Tip 3 – Try a Different Wi-Fi Channel

After my unexpected two router results, I had learned about the “802.11 Channel 6 Congestion” issue, and made some simple changes that helped my Wi-Fi experience.

802.11 Router Basics

As perviously discussed many home routers operate on one or two bands or frequencies – 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz. Each band is further segmented into channels – 11 narrow radio frequency channels.  When devices communicate with the router, they use whatever channel is set on the router.  If many devices (a close neighbours WiFI devices, cordless phones, etc…) use the same channel, this will likely result in congestion in that frequency – and that means trouble for your WiFi.

Wi-Fi devices bought in North America ship with a default of Channel 6 – increasing the likelihood of congestion unless you change it.

802.11 signals are designed to partially overlap – the spectrum of one channel will overlap a bit with another channel, but the further away your channel is from what is being used around you, the better throughput and performance you will have.

If you are on channel 6, one simple change is to try channel 1 or 11 – these are far away from the de-facto channel 6 specturm. However many people have started to use 1 and 11, and some devices by default use this, so you should try a couple of different ones. The change is easy to make on your router (consult your router documentation).

Another approach which is more involved is to scan the wireless environment around you using a third-party or open source application. This will show you exactly how congested each of the channels are.

I settled on using channel 8 on a dedicated 5 GHz band and had much improved performance.

Some WAPs / routers support automatic channel selection (ACS) which will in-theory auto-select a new channel when it detects RF interference. In my experience, enabling ACS has not made a difference, and I question the impact on real-time media sessions while my router attempts to switch channels.  I prefer a dedicated static channel.

There are many third party Wi-Fi application (for Windows clients) which scan and analyze your Wi-Fi networks to show which channels are in use, and the interference levels. I’ll be updating this blog entry with some of them shortly.

 

Tip 4 – Consider Implementing Custom QoS

In a nutshell, Quality of Service (QoS), is a network tagging methods which allows certain types of traffic to me tagged and treated as priority on the network. In practice, real-time media requirements for more important applications (such as voice and video application like SfB) can be tagged a higher priority over entertainment applications such as NetFlix.

Implementing QoS on a home router is likely beyond the expertise of many users, but highly recommended for those who use Skype for Business a lot from home (e.g. home workers).  It will make your life better!  Watch for a future blog article on how to do this.

 

Tip 5 – Still Having Issues … Ditch the Wi-Fi

Getting to the root cause of Wi-Fi issues can be frustrating and time-consuming. If you are still experiencing issues, and rely on good consistent networking for your daily activities, another option is to ditch the Wi-Fi at home all-together!  This might seem inconvenient and sliding down the evolutionary technology chain, but new wired options such as Ethernet over Power adapters make it very easy to add wired capabilities to almost anywhere in your home. I’ve had very good experiences with NETGEAR Powerline products.

 

Got a Wi-Fi tip for Skype (or any voice and video application) you want to share?  Please do!

 

Resources & More Information

Easily check your Download Speed in any Browser with Fast.com (Powered By NetFlix)

Microsoft TechNet – Ensuring an Enterprise Class Wireless Skype for Business Experience

Microsoft TechNet – Planning for Optimal Skype for Business Experience over Wi-Fi

Microsoft Download – Delivering Lync 2013 Real-Time Communications over Wi-Fi

Microsoft TechNet – Plan network requirements for Skype for Business 2015

5 Tips & Reminders for End Users During a SIP Address Change

SIP address changes inside organizations are usually challenging – for the IT team making the change and the end users experiencing the change. For those unfamiliar with the SIP address change, it involves a change to either:

  1. The format of the left-hand side (e.g. user-id@domain.com changing to firstname.lastname@domain.com)
  2. The domain name on the right-hand side of the @ sign (e.g. user@domain.com changes to user@new_domain.com)

This blog entry contains key reminders to end users going through the SIP address change process.

The impact to end users will depend somewhat on the Lync or Skype for Business (SfB) deployment and the clients used.

In most environments however, end users need to take the following 5 actions to re-establish their Lync and SfB services:

  1. Change the sign-in address on all SfB clients; don’t forget any clients running on mobile and tablets. Sign-out, change the SIP address, and sign-in again. Older Lync clients will sign the user out after their SIP address is changed on the backend.
  2. Any scheduled Skype for Business meetings (e.g. scheduled through the Outlook “Skype for Business Online Meeting” option) need to be canceled and recreated.
  3. When searching the address book for the first 24 hours post SIP change, enter the contacts full new SIP address.
  4. Change the SIP sign-in address at the same time as the email address (if it’s changing at the same time). This will minimize problems with the SfB feature integration with Exchange such as free/busy integration.
  5. Notify external contacts of the new SIP address.  An external contact is any contact that either federated (in another Lync/SfB organization) or a Public IM contact (e.g. user@outlook.com).  This is by far one of the highest impact items for the end users since it can render communication with external contacts. Basically the user has two options in my experience:
    • Notify external contacts that their SIP address has changed, and that they need to add it as a new contact in their address books.
    • Re-add the external contacts after the SIP change. Re-adding the external contact generates a request to the external contact to have them add the user (and the new SIP address) to their contact list. If there are a lot of external contacts, fellow Office Servers and Services MVP Michael LaMontagne has developed a nifty PowerShell script that uses the Lync SDK to run on the Lync or SfB client that can export and import contacts. An advanced user, or IT administrator, can use this script to export the contacts, delete the external contacts in the client, and then re-import them after the SIP change.

Lastly, if weird issues arise on older Lync clients (e.g. Lync 2010/2013) and/or older client operating systems such as Windows 7, try rebooting the computer is a good first step.

More Information

Anatomy of a SIP Domain Change

Anatomy of a SIP Address Change – Part #2

Effects of Changing a User’s SIP Address in Lync Server 2013

Modify the SIP Address of an Enabled Lync Server User

Invoke-SFBContacts on the TechNet Gallery

Introducing Microsoft Teams

This blog post isn’t specifically about Skype for Business but rather a newly released Microsoft Office 365 Team Collaboration application that has many similar Skype for Business collaboration features, and integrates with Skype for Business Online.

What is Microsoft Teams?

A new Office 365 Team Collaboration Experience (e.g. new Office 365 application) based on chat-based workspaces that brings together people, conversations, content, and tools that teams commonly use to get their work done.

It is built on-top of Office 365 (O365 groups are the pillar) and has built-in integration with:

  • The Microsoft Office Suite (i.e. Word, Excel, etc..) for content creation/sharing/viewing/editing
  • OneNote for content collaboration and storing content
  • Skype/Skype for Business Online integration for instant messaging
  • PowerBI for data visualizations / dashboards
  • SharePoint Online for file-based collaboration
  • Yammer for activity
  • 3rd party collaboration systems including Twitter, GitHub, and popular internet intelligence BOTS 
    • 85 BOTS
    • 70 different connectors to other systems (seamless integration with Zendesk was demo’ed)
  • Delve and the Office 365 Graph for contextual and data relevancy & Intelligence
  • Microsoft Planner for task management

Microsoft Teams is integrated and powered with Azure AD identities which is great from a security and single-sign-on perspective.

It will be available in all O365 Business and Enterprise subscriptions (likely an add-on I assume).  Currently it is free with an Office 365 Business or Enterprise subscription (not Family or Consumer).


If you want to try it for yourself, it is available in as Preview in most existing Office 365 tenants. Sign into your Office 365 Administrator portal and navigate to Settings | Services & add-ins as shown here:



Tenant administrators can control what types of collaboration Microsoft Teams leverage in their tenant as shown here:

 

Once it is enabled, you can use it by either going to http://teams.microsoft.com, or by downloading the Team’s Desktop App (available at that URL).

Chat at the Core

Many successful collaboration tools such as Slack, have group chat at their core. Microsoft Teams are no different. It leverages chat capabilities to provide threaded, persistent, and private 1-on-1 chat capabilities.


A Team Hub which Brings Together Many Office 365 Services

As mentioned above, Microsoft Teams brings together several Office 365 collaboration services to provide teams with a customizable hub to collaborate.



You can see how easily Microsoft Teams brings together Conversations, Files, Notes, Task & Project Management and 3rd party integration (here Zendesk is being shown) in an easily accessible toolbar across the top.


The integration with OneNote should be a really powerful feature. It was demo’ed in the release webcast:


Here is what the new Conversations view looks like. Question – what other popular collaboration software uses the "channel" concept? :-)


When will it be Released?

It is available today as customer preview in 181 countries and 18 languages. GA will be in Q1 of 2017.

 

What is the Integration Story with Skype for Business?

When Microsoft Teams was first announced, I assumed all of the chat features was leveraging SfB Online under the covers. This appears to not be the case and it is using a different technology stack for both the chat and real-time communication features.  More on this later.

Currently a Microsoft Teams user can instant message a SfB Online user and see their Presence (although this currently seems unstable).

References

Introducing Microsoft Teams—the chat-based workspace in Office 365

Microsoft Office Dev Center – Developer Preview for Microsoft Team

TEAMS + SKYPE FOR BUSINESS – Excellent write-up on the SfB integration by Richard Brynteson

Microsoft just brought back the Bill Gates era with its new plan to take down Slack – great article on Gates involvement in Microsoft Teams

DNS Records in a Skype for Business Hybrid Deployment

The DNS records for a Skype for Business (SfB) on-premises deployment can be somewhat complex, but are well documented (see Microsoft TechNet – DNS requirements for Skype for Business).  While working on a recent hybrid Skype for Business (SfB) deployment, I realized there is a lot of confusion. This was a classic hybrid deployment – some SfB servers and users on-premises, and some in SfB Online sharing one DNS namespace. This article aims to clear up some of this confusion.

The unique question that comes up in hybrid is where should I point my DNS records for clients to logon?  On-premises or online?

The general golden rule in a SfB hybrid environment is:

All Skype for Business external DNS records should point to the on-premises infrastructure.

This is a bit hidden but documented here in this TechNet article Plan hybrid connectivity between Skype for Business Server and Skype for Business Online.

A source of this confusion usually happens when client logins do not work for Skype for Business Online (SfBO) users in a hybrid deployment. Several Microsoft sources citing SfB Online client login issues and that DNS records should point to Office 365:

NOTE – both of these resources are meant for pure Skype for Business Online deployments in Office 365, NOT for hybrid.

For hybrid deployment the client autodiscover login DNS records should point to the on-premises deployment.  The TechNet documentation is quite clear on this requirement “In a hybrid deployment that has an on-premises Lync Server deployment and Skype for Business Online, the DNS records for Lync Autodiscover must be pointed to the on-premises Lync server”.

When a Skype for Business Online user attempts to sign-in, the on-premises SfB server will go through a process of being redirected multiple times until they reach their final home server in the Skype for Business Online topology. This process is well documented in the bottom half of this Microsoft Support article: Users can’t sign in to Skype for Business Online in a hybrid deployment of Lync Server 2013.

For hybrid deployment, here is a convenient summary of the external DNS records and where they should point to on-premises:

(Note: this example uses the domain contoso.com)

DNS RECORD RECORD TYPE WHERE IT SHOULD RESOLVE TO PORT
sip.contoso.com A Public IP of Access Edge n/a
_sip._tls.contoso.com SRV External on-premises Access Edge Interface (sip.contoso.com) 443
_sipfederationtls._tcp.contoso.com SRV External on-premises Access Edge Interface (sip.contoso.com) 5061
webcon.contoso.com A Public IP of Access Edge n/a
av.contoso.com A Public IP of Access Edge n/a

But What about the CNAME records I read about Required for Office 365 Users?

Again, this is part of the confusion as this only applies to pure SfB online deployments.  In this case, you will want the following two DNS records, but NOT FOR HYBRID:

> A DNS CNAME record for sip.contoso.com which points to sipdir.online.lync.com

> A DNS CNAME record for lyncdiscover.contoso.com which points to webdir.online.lync.com

If you add these external DNS records, external client login will break for the SfB on-premises users.  They will receive this error:

      image

For the internal DNS records, these are the same as the internal DNS records for a non-hybrid on-premises Skype for Business Deployment (which you can find here) so I won’t repeat them, but I will point out one exception:

> An DNS A record for sfedge.contoso.com which resolves to the IP address of the internal interface of Edge server

DNS and Using PowerShell with the Skype for Business Module in a Hybrid Environment

Now, to further confuse things, the Skype for Business Online PowerShell module relies on the DNS CNAME record for pure online deployments to connect with PowerShell. This record:

A DNS CNAME record for lyncdiscover.contoso.com which points to webdir.online.lync.com

Because this record is not used in a SfB / Lync hybrid deployment, the Remote PowerShell connection will fail.

This is well documented with the work around, here:

Lync administrators can’t connect to Skype for Business Online Remote PowerShell in a Lync hybrid environment

The work around is to use an OverrideDomain property on with the default domain for your Office 365 tenant (i.e. the *.onmicrosoft.com domain that was included with the tenant subscription).

This is also documented here: http://www.ucblog.co.uk/?p=25

Five Productivity Tips to get the most from Skype for Business

As a daily user of Skype for Business and someone who specializes in it, I often see other users struggle with some relatively common usage scenario’s in the client. This blog entry describes 5 productivity tips that will increase the productivity of Skype for Business users in specific situations.

1) Easily Start a Group Conversation from an Outlook Meeting

I frequently see the need for this and it is a real productivity booster. Many times users are participating in a meeting from their Outlook calendar which does not have a corresponding Skype for Business (SfB) meeting or conference.  Typically these meetings have a mix of internal and external participants with an external audio bridge, or other non-SfB conferencing solution.

Inevitably the needs arises during the meeting to collaborate – a group IM chat, a desktop share, or sharing a PowerPoint presentation.

A very effective way to instantly start collaborating with all meeting participants in Skype for Business is to:

  1. Open the Outlook Meeting
  2. Go to the Meeting tab
  3. If you are the meeting Organizer –select the Contact Attendees option (click on the icon), and select Reply All with an IM
  4. If you are a meeting Participant – select the Respond option (click on the icon), and select Reply All with an IM

This seldom used option instantly starts a Skype for Business group conversation with all Outlook meeting participants. All the people on the call can now chat, add audio, share their Desktop, or share a PowerPoint presentation. If an external participant (outside of the company hosting the SfB conference) does not have Skype for Business, you might have to send them the URL for the meeting and they can join via a web browser.

The screen shots which illustrate this capability are here:

If you are a Meeting Organizer

image

If you are a Meeting Participant

image 

2) Transfer a Call from a Mobile Client to your Desktop

Many times users want to know how to keep a call going when they are participating in a Skype for Business session on their mobile client (i.e. using the SfB client on an Windows Mobile / iPhone / Android device) after they have reached their desk.

In these scenarios the call can be transferred from the SfB Mobile client to the SfB Desktop client by doing the following:

  • While in a call on the SfB mobile client, select the “…” circle icon to bring up additional options
  • Select yourself in the SfB client mobile address book
  • Select “Transfer Call” and then “Skype for Business call
  • The call should now ring the SfB Desktop client where it can be answered and the mobile session can be disconnected

An example of the call transfer process is shown here:

Blog Entry Call Transfer

3) Change Devices During a Call

Having multiple audio and video devices is becoming the norm for most users.  Many times users will join into a SfB web conference with audio and video, and the client is using an different audio device then the one they want (e.g. a speakerphone instead of a USB headset).

Most users know of the “Select your Primary Device” shortcut setting in the bottom left-hand corner of the SfB client, but users often forget that this device selection feature can be used mid-call. So if you join a SfB session with a device you do not want to use, it can be changed on the fly. The client device shortcut is shown here:

image 

Note: when an incoming call is ringing the SfB client, the device cannot be changed; it must first be answered.

During a SfB voice call, the dial-pad contains an obvious Devices icon which allows users to easily switch devices as shown here:

image

4) Use Shortcut Keys for Common Tasks

Like most Microsoft client software solutions, the Skype for Business (SfB) client has several well document keyboard shortcuts. One of the best references is available here:

Keyboard shortcuts for Skype for Business
https://support.office.com/en-us/article/Keyboard-shortcuts-for-Skype-for-Business-74eda765-5631-4fc1-8aad-cc870115347a#__toc327975864

Keyboard shortcuts are most useful for frequently used actions, or features that require multiple clicks. Here is a list of my useful favourites that not many users know of:

Windows logo key+F4

Mute Yourself (On/Off).  Useful for quickly toggling your mute setting during a call.

Alt+Enter

With a Contact selected, use Alt+Enter to open the contact card.

Alt+M

Quickly start a new ad-hoc Meeting (i.e. “Meet Now”)

Ctrl+Shift+O

Pop-out the Gallery / Pop-in the Gallery during a web conference.

 

5) Use the Address Book instead of the Contact List

This is possibly the simplest tip, but one that alludes even experienced users of the Lync & SfB clients.

Users, including myself, get into a habit of adding people that you communicate with even when these are contacts not commonly used.

Few users are disciplined enough to categorize their contacts into Skype for Business Groups that meet their work habits, so the contact list ends up diluted with a lot of contacts – many of which are rarely used.  This is a typically a productivity drain because whether users realize it or not, they spend extra time sifting through their huge contact list trying to locate the people they communicate with most frequently.

A simple way to solve this is to make ample use of the built-in SfB Address Book, and save the Contact List only for contacts that you frequently communicate with (or need to know the Presence Status of).

This takes some getting used to – but after doing it for awhile the benefits of simply typing a name into the Address Book search bar will make you more productive.

Key Skype for Business Online Policy Settings

As I work more with enterprises adopting Skype for Business (SfB) Online in Office 365, many questions arise about setting user policies which govern which features which compliance, security, and resource usage.

There are many policies (about 12 that applicable to individual SfB Online users), and each type of policy can have many settings (52 for the Conferencing Policy for example), and it is difficult to know what settings are available, what the individual setting enables/disables, and which ones matter the most.

In my experience the 4 most commonly used SfB Online policies are:

  1. Conferencing
  2. External Access
  3. Client
  4. Voice

The importance of each policy type will depend on what features your SfB tenant is leveraging. The bulk of this article lists and explains the key policy settings for each policy type.

Before we get to that it is worth pointing out several significant differences between setting policies in SfB Online and the SfB Server 2015 on-premises equivalent:

  1. Skype for Business Server 2015 gives more granular policy control in the native management GUI’s (primarily the Management console); both in terms of policy features, and the ability to assign it a user. You will likely need to use the Skype for Business Online PowerShell module to manage policy settings if you are doing anything over-and-above the basics. See Using Windows PowerShell to manage Skype for Business Online for more information.
  2. Many default policy settings that apply to individual users derive from the SfB Online tenant settings. For example, if you enable Federation and Public IM (PIC) at the tenant level, all users in the SfB online tenant are assigned the “FederationAndPICDefault” policy under the covers. Any settings in a user level policy will override these default settings.
  3. There are differences in online policy scopes. SfB Online does not have the “Site” scope and primarily used the Global or Tag (per user) scope. This Microsoft TechNet article describes Identities, scopes, and tenants in Skype for Business Online.
  4. New Policies are not Created in Skype for Business Online. With SfB Server 2015 on-premises you can create custom policies to your hearts content (for most policy types). In Skype for Business online existing policies can be changes (with the associated Set cmdlet) but you cannot create new policies. See Managing policies in Skype for Business Online for more information.

Conferencing Policy

The Conferencing policy determines the features and capabilities that can be used in a Skype for Business conference.  It is important because it controls features that span legal & compliance (such as the ability to record the media used in a web conference), security (the ability for anonymous users to participant in a conference), and important management settings that affect the amount of bandwidth consumed during a conference.  The table below highlights the key Conference Policy settings I have used in the past.

Note: Unless otherwise noted, these settings apply to the user who organizes the conference - the setting enables or disables a feature in conferences the organizing user creates.  However, the user can participate in other conferences where the same feature might be allowed or disallowed based on that conference organizers settings.

Setting Description Default Global Policy Value
AllowAnnotations Controls whether or not participants are allowed to make on-screen annotations on any content shared, and whether or not whiteboarding is allowed.  Annotations are not archived along with other meeting content. True
AllowAnonymousParticipantsInMeetings Controls whether anonymous users are allowed to participate in the meeting. If this setting is ‘False’, only AD authenticated users are allowed to attend the meeting True
AllowAnonymousUsersToDialOut Controls whether anonymous users (not authenticated with Active Directory) are allowed to join a conference using dial-out phoning. With dial-out phoning, the SfB conferencing server telephones the user; when the user answers the phone, he or she will be joined to the conference True
AllowConferenceRecording Controls whether users are allowed to record the meeting (from the client). This setting applies to all users taking part in the conference. False
AllowExternalUserControl Controls whether external users (either anonymous users or federated users) are allowed to take control of shared applications or desktops.

This setting is enforced at the per-user level for both conferences and peer-to-peer communication sessions, so some users in a session might be allowed to give up control of a shared application or desktop to an external user while other users might not be allowed to give up control

False
AllowExternalUsersToRecordMeeting Controls whether external users (either anonymous users or federated users) are allowed to record the meeting. This setting takes effect only if the AllowConferenceRecording property is set to True. False
AllowExternalUsersToSaveContent Controls whether external users (that is, users not currently logged-on to your network) are allowed to save handouts, slides, and other meeting content True
AllowNonEnterpriseVoiceUsersToDialOut Controls whether or users who have not been enabled for Enterprise Voice are allowed to join a conference using dial-out phoning. With dial-out phoning the conferencing server will dial the user via the telphone (PSTN); when the user answers the phone, he or she will be joined to the conference False
EnableAppDesktopSharing Controls whether participants are allowed to share applications – including their desktop – in a meeting.  The values are either  1)
“Desktop” (users are allowed to share their entire desktop),  2) “SingleApplication”  (users are allowed to share a single application, or 3) “None”  (users are not allowed to share applications or their desktop)
Desktop
EnableDialInConferencing Controls whether users are able to join the meeting by dialing in with a public switched telephone network (PSTN) telephone True
EnableFileTransfer Controls whether file transfers to all the meeting participants are allowed during the meeting. True
EnableP2PRecording Enables users will be able to record peer-to-peer conferencing sessions. It is enforced at the per-user level so one user in a P2P communication session might be allowed to record it while the other user is not. False
MaxMeetingSize Controls the maximum number of people who are allowed to attend a meeting. After the maximum number of participants has been reached, anyone else who tries to join the meeting will be turned away with the notice that the meeting is full. 250

The full Conference Policy settings can be viewed in the ‘Parameters’ section in the Microsoft Technet article for the Set-CsConferencingPolicy cmdlet.

External Access Policy

External access policies have the fewest settings of any of the policies, but are important.  They are the main tool to control whether users can connect externally (outside of the corporate network), and whether the can communicate with users outside of the organization such as contacts in a partner organization running Skype for Business (federated contacts), and contacts in public consumer instant messaging systems.

The table below shows the settings in the External Access policy and the default values for the FederationAndPICDefault Policy which is the default policy in most SfB Online tenants, and when enabled at the tenant level, this policy gets assigned to all the users.

* Note: all the settings below are False in the Global policy.

Setting Description The FederationAndPICDefault Policy Value
EnableFederationAccess Controls whether the user is allowed to communicate with people who have SIP accounts with a federated organization True
EnableOutsideAccess Controls whether the user is allowed to connect to Skype for Business Server 2015 over the Internet (on an external network) True
EnablePublicCloudAccess Controls whether the user is allowed to communicate with people who have SIP accounts with a public Internet connectivity providers such as MSN True
EnablePublicCloudAudioVideoAccess Controls whether the user is allowed to conduct audio/video conversations with people who have SIP accounts with a public Internet connectivity providers. When set to False, audio and video options in Skype for Business Server 2015 will be disabled any time a user is communicating with a public Internet connectivity contact True
EnableXmppAccess Controls whether the user is allowed to communicate with users who have SIP accounts with a federated XMPP (Extensible Messaging and Presence Protocol) partner False

To view all the settings in the SfB External Access Policies, see the Parameters section in the Microsoft TechNet article for the Set-CsExternalAccessPolicy cmdlet.

Client Policy

Client policies are the main method to control the behaviour of the Skype for Business client such as whether a user photo is displayed, how the address book is accessed, and whether the presence state “Appear as Offline” is available to the user.

Here are some of the key policy settings:

Setting Description Default Global Policy Value
AddressBookAvailability Controls how the client Address Book is used – either through the AB Web Query service and/or by downloading a copy of the Address Book (to the client). The Possible values are:

> WebSearchAndFileDownload
> WebSearchOnly,
> FileDownloadOnly

WebSearchOnly
AutoDiscoveryRetryInterval This setting specifies the amount of time the Skype for Business client waits before trying again to connect to the server after a previous failed attempt. It can be set between 1 second and 60 minutes.

The value needs to be in the format “hours:minutes:seconds”.  Eg. to set the interval to 15 minutes the value used for the AutoDiscoveryRetryInterval parameter would be “00:15:00″

<not set>
DisableEmailComparisonCheck Controls whether the Skype for Business client will attempt to verify that any currently running instance of Microsoft Outlook belongs to the same user running Skype for Business.  If set to True (to not check) the client will assume that the SfB client and Outlook are running under the same account and, in turn, and will include contact and calendar data from Outlook.

When set to False, the SfB client will use SMTP addresses to verify that Outlook and Skype for Business are running under the same account. If the SMTP addresses do not match, then contact and calendar data in Outlook will not be used in the SfB client

False
DisableEmoticons Controls whether users will be able to send or receive emoticons in their instant messages. If set to True, users will see the text equivalent of those emoticons. When set to False, users will be able to include emoticons in their instant messages, and to view emoticons in instant messages they receive True
DisableFreeBusyInfo Controls whether free/busy information is retrieved from Microsoft Outlook and displayed in the SfB client contact card. When set to False, free/busy information is displayed in the contact card for contacts in the SfB client False
DisableSavingIM Enables (or disables) the menu bar option to save an instant message session int the SfB client.When set to false, the options to Save an IM session are available in the Conversation window.Note that setting this value to true removes the menu options that make it easy for users to save instant message transcripts. However, it does not prevent users from copying all the text in a transcript to the clipboard, pasting that text into another application, and then saving the transcript that way False
DisplayPhoto Determines whether or not photos of both the user, and his or her contacts, will be displayed in the SfB client. Valid settings are:> NoPhoto – Photos are not displayed in Skype for Business.

> PhotosFromADOnly – Only photos that have been published in AD

> AllPhotos – Either AD photos or custom photos can be displayed.

AllPhotos
EnableExchangeContactSync When set to True, Skype for Business creates a corresponding personal contact in Outlook for each person in the user’s Skype for Business Contacts list True
EnableExchangeDelegateSync When set to true, a user that has been configured with delegate access in Outlook will be allowed to schedule online Lync Calendar meetings for that user (this happens via Lync UCMAPI delegation, without the need of the Enterprise Voice feature) True
EnableIMAutoArchiving When set to true, a transcript of every instant message session that a user takes part in will be saved to the Conversation History folder in Outlook. When set to false, these transcripts will not be saved automatically.Note: users will always have the option to manually save (copy & paste) instant message transcripts True
EnableSkypeUI Allows administrators to enable the Skype for Business user interface instead of the Lync interface for the Skype for Business client. True
EnableEventLogging When set to true, detailed information about the Skype for Business client operations will be recorded in the Application event log lon the client. When set to false, only major events (such as the failure to connect to Skype for Business Server) are recorded in the event log False
EnableTracing When set to true, software tracing will be enabled in the Skype for Business client. Software tracing enables a very detailed log of all client operations (including API calls). It is mostly useful to developers and to application support personnel. False
EnableURL When set to true, links (URLs) are clickable by the end users. This can be a security risk. False
TracingLevel Enables Administrators to manage event tracing and logging in the Skype for Business client.

Possible values are:

> Off – Tracing is disabled and the user cannot change this setting.

> Light – Minimal tracing is performed, and the user cannot change this setting.

> Full – Verbose tracing is performed, and the user cannot change this setting.

Light

To view all the settings in the SfB Client Policies, see the Parameters section in the Microsoft TechNet article for the Set-CsClientPolicy cmdlet.

Voice Policy

The Voice Policy is largely used to configure the PSTN calling voice features such as whether to allow call forwarding or whether to allow simultaneous ring for users. It is only applicable if the SfBO tenant is licensed and using Enterprise Voice (PSTN Calling), and the user has an appropriate Office 365 license (currently an E5 license). Note that SfB Online VoIP voice calls (e.g. SfB to SfB client audio) are not governed by this policy.

Setting Description
AllowCallForwarding If this parameter is set to True, users assigned to this policy can forward calls. If this parameter is set to False, calls cannot be forwarded.
AllowPSTNReRouting When this parameter is set to True, calls made to internal numbers homed on another pool will be routed through the public switched telephone network (PSTN) when the pool or WAN is unavailable.
AllowSimulRing Simultaneous ring is a feature that allows multiple phones to ring when a single number is dialed. Setting this parameter to True enables simultaneous ring. If this parameter is set to False, simultaneous ring cannot be configured for any user assigned to this policy.
CallForwardingSimulRingUsageType Provides a way for administrators to manage call forwarding and simultaneous ringing. Allowed values are:

* VoicePolicyUsage – The default voice policy usage is used to manage call forwarding and simultaneous ringing on all calls. This is the default value.

* InternalOnly – Call forwarding and simultaneous ringing are limited to calls made from one Lync user to another.

* CustomUsage. A custom PSTN usage will be used to manage call forwarding and simultaneous ringing. This usage must be specified using the CustomCallForwardingSimulRingUsages parameter.

CustomCallForwardingSimulRingUsages Custom PSTN usage used to manage call forwarding and simultaneous ringing.
EnableBusyOptions Enables or disables Busy Options for the specified voice policy. Busy Options allows incoming calls to be routed to voice mail or rejected with a “busy” signal when the call’s target user is on the phone. Use the Set-BusyOptions cmdlet to set the option desired.
EnableCallPark The Call Park application allows a call to be held, or parked, at a certain number within a range of numbers for later retrieval.
EnableCallTransfer Determines whether calls can be transferred to another number.
EnableDelegation Call delegation allows a user to answer calls for another user or make calls on the other user’s behalf. For example, a manager can set up call delegation so that all incoming calls ring both his or her phone and the phone of an administrator.
EnableMaliciousCallTracing Malicious call tracing is a standard that is in place to trace calls that a user designates as malicious. These calls can be traced even if caller ID is blocked. The trace is available only to the proper authorities and not to the user.
EnableTeamCall Team Call allows a user to designate a group of other users whose phones will ring when that user’s number is called. This feature is useful in teams where, for example, anyone from a team can answer incoming calls from customers.
EnableVoicemailEscapeTimer When set to True, calls to an unanswered mobile device will be routed to the organization voicemail instead of the mobile device provider’s voicemail. If a call is answered “too soon” (that is, before the value configured for the PSTNVoicemailEscapeTimer property has elapsed) it will be assumed that the mobile device is not available and the call will be routed to the organization voicemail.

The default value is False.

PreventPSTNTollBypass PSTN tolls are more commonly known as long-distance charges. Organizations can sometimes bypass these tolls by implementing a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) solution that enables branch offices to connect via network calls. Setting this parameter to True will send calls through PSTN and incur charges rather than going through the network and bypassing the tolls.
PstnUsages A list of PSTN usages available to this policy. The PSTN usage ties a voice policy to a phone route and determines whether a user is allowed to make a specific call to a destination number.

Keep in mind that if you use this parameter to remove all PSTN usages from the policy, users granted this policy will not be able to make outbound PSTN calls.

PSTNVoicemailEscapeTimer Amount of time (in milliseconds) used to determine whether or not a call has been answered “too soon.” If a response is received within this time interval Skype for Business Server 2015 will assume that the mobile device is not available and automatically switch the call to the organization’s voicemail. If no response is received before the time interval is reached then the call will be allowed to proceed.

The default value is 1500 milliseconds.

Tenant Globally unique identifier (GUID) of the Skype for Business Online tenant account whose voice policy is to be modified. For example:

-Tenant "38aad667-af54-4397-aaa7-e94c79ec2308"

You can return the tenant ID for each of your tenants by running this command:

Get-CsTenant | Select-Object DisplayName, TenantID

Here are the default settings for voice policy used in a hybrid voice configuration:

Identity                            : Tag:HybridVoice
PstnUsages                          : {BVTest}
CustomCallForwardingSimulRingUsages : {}
Description                         : LYO Prod HybridVoice voice policy
AllowSimulRing                      : True
AllowCallForwarding                 : True
AllowPSTNReRouting                  : False
Name                                : HybridVoice
EnableDelegation                    : True
EnableTeamCall                      : True
EnableCallTransfer                  : True
EnableCallPark                      : False
EnableMaliciousCallTracing          : False
EnableBWPolicyOverride              : True
PreventPSTNTollBypass               : True
CallForwardingSimulRingUsageType    : VoicePolicyUsage
VoiceDeploymentMode                 : OnPremOnlineHybrid
EnableVoicemailEscapeTimer          : False
PSTNVoicemailEscapeTimer            : 4000
TenantAdminEnabled                  : False
BusinessVoiceEnabled                : False

To view all the settings in the SfB Online Voice policy, see the Parameters section in the Microsoft TechNet article for the Set-CsVoicePolicy cmdlet.  Note: many of the settings documents here apply to on-premises Skype for Business Server 2015 and not SfB Online.

One final note, while researching this article I discovered a recent Microsoft TechNet article by Thomas Binder and Jens Trier Rasmussen that has some useful information about managing SfB Online policies: Policies in Skype for Business online.

Managing Skype for Business Online Administrator Rights

With an Office 365  Skype for Business Online (SfB Online) tenant that has several SfB Administrators, I frequently need to review who has Administrator access – that is – who has the ability to see, and change, SfB settings. This includes everything from SfB service settings, user settings, to permission changes. This blog entry explains the basics for Skype for Business Online administrator permissions and how to easily review them.

The Basics

SfB Online Administrator permissions leverage the default Office 365 Admin Roles and their associated Permissions in Office 365. Office 365 has predefined administrator roles, and each role has a set of permissions which allow the Office 365 user with that Admin role to do specific actions in SfB online (i.e. access to specific objects or configuration data).

The question then becomes, which Office 365 Admin Roles grant Skype for Business administrator access?

In the Office 365 Admin Center, these O365 admin roles have SfB admin permissions:

  1. Global administrator
  2. User management administrator
  3. Password administrator
  4. Skype for Business administrator

You can use either the Office 365 Admin Center or PowerShell (via the Skype for Business Online Connector module) to set these permissions.

Tips:

  1. One of the big surprises I learned is that all of the above o365 roles grant full access to Skype for Business Online!  In other words, there is no difference in administrative access between those roles; any user that has one of the those roles assigned has full administrative access to Skype for Business Online settings.
  2. Another key point is that those first 3 roles default O365 admin roles grant access to other parts of the O365 tenant, whereas the Skype for Business administrator role limits the administrator assigned to this role to read/write to SfB Online settings, and only read-only to the other Office 365 organization and user information.
  3. The above pre-defined Office 365 administrator role names in the O365 Admin Center differ slightly from the equivalent role names used when using PowerShell (more information on this later).

Using the Office 365 Admin Center

To view and set SfB Online Administrator permissions in the Office 365 portal roles navigate to “Users | Active Users” node (as of March 2016). This provides the ability to view which O365 users have been assigned predefined O365 Administrator roles.  The available views are shown here:

image

In this view, any O365 user that has been assigned either the “Global admins”,User management admins”, or “Password admins” roles will have SfB Online Administrator access.

To confuse matters, there is a “Skype for Business administrator” role, but it is not available in this view; however you can view whether a user has this role and assign or remove it by editing the individual O365 user and and selecting Roles as show here:

image

You can also see this by selecting “EDIT USER ROLES” in the the right-hand pane when you have selected a specific user.

As you can see, trying to answer the question “Who has SfB Administrator access” is cumbersome in the O365 Admin Center.  PowerShell to the rescue.

Using PowerShell

To administer SfB Online via PowerShell you use the Skype for Business Online Connector Module and establish a session to your corresponding O365 tenant. This process is described here: Connecting to Skype for Business Online by using Windows PowerShell.

In PowerShell, SfB Online admin access for a user equates to having one of these 4 roles assigned to their O365 user account:

  • Company Administrator” = the role name representing Global Administrators
  • Lync Service Administrator” = the role name representing Skype for Business Administrators
  • User Account Administrator” = the role name representing User Management
  • Helpdesk Administrator” = this corresponds to the O365 Admin center role “Password administrator”

If you frequently need to see who holds any of these Administrator roles, you are best to script it in PowerShell so that it is easily accessible.

Unfortunately there is no one cmdlet which lists all of the O365 admin roles assigned to a particular office 365 user, so we are going to have to enumerate the membership of the four O365 Admin roles that correspond to SfB administrative permissions.

I wrote a PowerShell script to do that here:

Import-Module MsOnline

Function Enumerate_SfBAdminRole
{
    [CmdletBinding()]
    PARAM
    (
            [Parameter(Mandatory = $true)]
            [String]$AdminRole
    )

    $o365AdminRole = Get-MsolRole -RoleName $AdminRole
    $o365Admins = Get-MsolRoleMember -RoleObjectId $o365AdminRole.ObjectId

    Write-Host ""
    Write-Host $AdminRole
    Write-Host "———————————————————————"

    $o365Admins | Select-Object DisplayName, EmailAddress, IsLicensed, RoleMemberType
}

$cred = Get-Credential

Connect-MsolService -Credential $cred

Enumerate_SfBAdminRole -AdminRole "Company Administrator"

Enumerate_SfBAdminRole -AdminRole "User Account Administrator"

Enumerate_SfBAdminRole -AdminRole “Lync Service Administrator”

Enumerate_SfBAdminRole -AdminRole “Helpdesk Administrator”

Demystifying a User Compliance setting in Skype for Business Online

I recently had to figure out a Skype for Business (SfB) Online user settings in the O365 Admin Center that was poorly understood – the user setting “For compliance, turn off non-archived features” as shown here:

image

The purpose of this setting is to allow Administrators to turn off SfB online communication features that cannot have the communication content captured by the in-place hold feature that is used with Exchange integration (the in-place hold is an Exchange feature configured in the Exchange admin center which allows archiving of communication to a special folder in the corresponding Exchange for compliance purposes).

This setting turns off the SfB features that cannot be subject to the in-place hold. Enterprises that are required to preserve digital communication can turn this setting on to ensure all SfB communication can be captured with the in-place holder features.

The SfB online features which are turned off are:

  • File transfer using instant messaging

  • Shared OneNote pages

  • PowerPoint annotations

SfB Online accomplishes this by setting the Conferencing Policy for the user to one that does that include the above features.

The default Conferencing Policy is BposSAllModality. After turning this setting on for a user, the Conferencing policy is set to BposSAllModalityNoFTnotice the “NoFT” in the name = “No File Transfer”.

We can see the exactly settings in each conferencing policy using these two cmdlet:

Get-CsConferencingPolicy -Identity BposSAllModality,

Get-CsConferencingPolicy -Identity BposSAllModalityNoFT

Here are the settings for the BposSAllModality:

  • AllowSharedNotes                              : True
  • EnableFileTransfer                              : True
  • EnableP2PFileTransfer                         : True
  • DisablePowerPointAnnotations              : False

Here are the settings for the BposSAllModalityNoFT:

  • AllowSharedNotes                              : False
  • EnableFileTransfer                              : False
  • EnableP2PFileTransfer                         : False
  • DisablePowerPointAnnotations              : True

 

Here is the SfB Online PowerShell cmdlet to change all users to use a specific policy (in this case the BposSAllModality policy):

Get-CsOnlineUser | Grant-CsConferencingPolicy -PolicyName BposSAllModality

Here is the SfB Online PowerShell cmdlet to set a specific user to have a policy (in this case the BposSAllModalityNoFT policy):

Grant-CsConferencingPolicy -identity curtisj@example.com -PolicyName bposSAllModalityNoFT

The New Skype for Business iOS App 101 & Key Tips

It’s been 2 weeks since Microsoft released the new Skype for Business iOS app (https://blogs.office.com/2015/10/14/skype-for-business-ios-app-now-available/). This article answers common questions, summarizes the important points you need to know, and includes some tips to get the most out of it.

Basics you Should Know

  1. This is a one-way upgrade from the Lync 2013 iOS application.  There is no going back.  It replaces the Lync 2013 app in the Apple Store. It will co-exist with the Lync 2010 app if it is on the device.
  2. The version works against Skype for Business Server 2015, Lync Server 2013, and Office 365 Skype for Business Online.
  3. The app requires iOS 8.1 or later and is 121 MB (iPhone app).
  4. The icon is called “Business” as shown below (not to be confused with the consumer “Skype” app):image
  5. The dial pad automatically adds a country code prefix to the number being dialled. This is determined by the regional setting on your device. You can manually use the backspace button to delete the prefix if need be.
  6. During the initial app setup you are asked to enter your Mobile Number. This is the number that will be used in the “Call via Work” scenario, or anytime that you to do make an outbound audio or video call by having the Skype4B server call you.
  7. If setting server-side client policies or need to identify this client in reports, the user agents are:
    • iPhone:  UCWA/6.0.0.0 iPhoneLync/6.0.1445.0000 – 6.0.1447.0000
    • iPad: UCWA/6.0.0.0 iPadLync/6.0.1445.0000 – 6.0.1447.0000
    • If you are running against a Lync 2013 Server is will be UCWA/5.0.0.0 instead of “6”.
    • 1445 was the original release;  1447 was released on Oct 22nd and addressed several bugs.
  8. There have been reports of the client crashing during the meeting join process. Make sure you upgrade to the latest release (6.0.1447 on Oct 22nd) if you are experiencing this.

Tips

Useful App Settings in the iOS Device Settings

I usually don’t venture into the device settings for applications. For the Skype for Business App there are some useful ones you should consider.

The Contacts settings controls whether contacts from you iOS device are shown in the Search Contacts results in the app. If this is settings is OFF, the contact search results will just contain results from the Global Address List (GAL).

I have been experimenting with the “Background App Refresh” and so far, having it on appears to have little affect on the batter – which is good.

image

Viewing a Contacts Profile

The profile of any contact can be viewed by just tapping on the contacts name as shown here:

image

Note : that you cannot access a participant’s Contact Card from the Participant List from the IM chat screen.

Saving Battery Life

With the older Lync iOS clients, signing out was a good idea to save battery life if the client was not going to be used for awhile.  This is anecdotal, but I am finding the new Skype for Business iOS app much more battery-friendly while staying signed-in.

Swipe Right & Swipe Left

One of the best pieces of functionality I have discovered is the ability to swipe Left and Right for recent activity under the “recent” group on the main search bar for locating contacts.

A swipe Right and you can immediately launch communication with the recent contact as shown here:image

A swipe Left and you can remove the entry from your recent listings as shown here: 

image

 

What’s Missing?

One of the most obvious pieces of functionality missing in this initial version (that was available in previous iOS versions) is sharing a PowerPoint presentation during a conference. Application and screen-sharing are still possible – you can share a ppt through screen-sharing.

A number of people have reported missing the ability to control Simultaneous Ring and to set Call Forwarding options.

Microsoft has detailed other pieces of functionality that are missing in this KB article: Some Lync 2013 for iPhone/iPad features are missing in Skype for Business for iOS (https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/kb/3102247).

 

Bugs

Meeting Join Crashes?

There were many reports of the app crashing on meeting joins in preview and the initial release. Since the latest release on Oct 22nd, I have personally not had any crashes on or during meeting joins.

The Ability to Make Calls to Skype Users

The new app offers the capability to communicate with anyone who uses Skype (consumer). The other users Skype ID is all the is required. In my experience this is buggy.  I did get it to work with one Skype consumer accounts but not another’s.  I think this speaks to the Lync/Skype4b and Skype consumer integration issues that have been present for a long time and is not related to the app.

 

Summary

The new iOS is a good, and a better experience than it’s predecessor – a noticeable improvement in UI usability and aesthetics. The in-call and in-meeting experiences are much improved over the Lync 2013 app and it is a well worth the few missing features and bugs which will be addressed in subsequent releases.

 

Links to More Information

Microsoft Skype for Business for iOS Productivity Guide (http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/49185)

- a step-by-step guide to installing and using the iOS guide

Some Lync 2013 for iPhone/iPad features are missing in Skype for Business for iOS (https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/kb/3102247)

Microsoft’s “Skype For Business” iOS App Now Available To All (http://techcrunch.com/2015/10/14/microsofts-skype-for-business-ios-app-now-available-to-all/)

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:

image

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

image

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.

image

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.