Lync Mobile & Office 365


Lync Mobile is out for Windows Phone and other platforms right now. If you can’t find it in the marketplace on WP, hit this link:

Download Lync 2010 for Windows

I’ve been using Lync for a few months now and LOVE it, it makes connecting with people at partners so much easier. I use Lync Online via Office 365 (as I also love the cloud) and was very keen to get this all hooked up.

I downloaded the app this morning but couldn’t get it working at all so I turned to my greatest friend in times if tech support need, Twitter. Lo & behold, the ever awesome @bibbleq came through and I was up & running within 5 or so minutes!

All the info I’d seen online concerned adding CNAME records to DNS servers but, as it’s in the cloud, I didn’t have access to that…so I was a bit stuck. Turns out that MS just need to update the DNS at their end but if, like me, you’re impatient to get start then follow @Bibbleq’s advice:

Add

https://meet.lync.com/Autodiscover/autodiscoverservice.svc/Root

as the “External Discovery address” and you’ll be all sorted.

Head over to his blog for more details on the above:

http://www.bibble-it.com/2011/12/12/office-365-basic-plans-quick-config-for-lync-mobile

and also a deeper look at Lync for WP7:

http://www.bibble-it.com/2011/12/12/overview-of-lync-mobile-for-windows-phone-7

Lync Online & Lync Translator


I’m sure you already know what Lync is but just in case you don’t:

Lync is $1,000,000,000.

Lync is On-Premise.

Lync is Online.

Lync is Awesome.

Lync is Multi-Lingual.

It does:

  • Instant Messaging
  • P2P Voice Calls
  • Presence (are they free, in a meeting, on lunch etc)
  • Video Conferencing
  • Web Conferencing
  • Desktop Sharing
  • Presentation Sharing
  • VOIP Calls

and loads of other things too, like collaborative whiteboards & polls.

Microsoft Lync 2010.png

However, this post is about a specific add-on for Lync and what to do if you’re having problems with it & Lync Online.

Lync Translator:

This is a great feature that I saw demoed at the Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) this year in LA and it does what it sounds like – it translates your Lync IM’s from 1 language into another!

You choose your language:

image

Then choose the recipient’s language:

image

Then Voila:

image

It of course will translate when they reply too, allowing 2 people without a common language to have a conversation, be it personal or business.

It companies with offices across the world this could be invaluable. Not only that, as Lync allows you to federate (i.e connect) with other companies this could be used for communicating with customers and partners too!

Getting it working with Lync:

Translator is an add-on for Lync which can be downloaded from:

http://www.microsoft.com/download/en/details.aspx?displaylang=en&id=26136

and a quick, simple install to get you started.

However I ran into this issue:

clip_image002

I thought this was due to me using the Office 365 Lync Online but I was told via Twitter that it does work. It was a Snr Program Manager with the UC team in Redmond, Tom Laciano AKA (@TomLCSKid) who had tweeted me and he was also kind enough to help me further with some troubleshooting.

It turned out to be quite a simple step but I’d never have come up with it myself:

· Look in IE’s Trusted Sites (Tools/Options/Security/Trusted Sites/Sites) and make sure there’s an entry for http://ConversationTranslator.cloudapp.net.

That was it. I added that in and BOOM – I was off IMing in various languages with ease Smile

So if you get a similar error – make sure that step above is completed first off…

Hope that helps someone out there…

Microsoft BPOS: More new features


Microsoft BPOS has, yet again, been something of a star of the Worldwide Partner Conference and a bunch of new features have been confirmed/announced. They are:

Exchange Online:

  • Voice mail with Unified Messaging
  • Integrated archiving
  • Retention policies and legal hold
  • Transport rules
  • Multi-mailbox search
  • Conversation View
  • MailTips
  • Enhanced Web-based administration
  • Role-Based Access Control
  • Remote PowerShell
  • Free/busy between cloud and on-premises
  • Cross-premises management
  • Native migration tools

     

    Sharepoint Online:

     

  • Portal site templates
  • Extranet access
  • Anonymous Access
  • Multi-Lingual UI
  • Office 2010 integration
  • Tagging, Rating, Tag Cloud
  • Activity Feed, Social Networking, Note Board
  • Improved Wikis & Blogs
  • Content publishing
  • Navigation controls
  • Cross site-collection search
  • Phonetic search
  • People search
  • Visio Services
  • Excel Services
  • Sandboxed Solutions
  • Improved workflows
  • Improved SharePoint Designer 2010
  • Access Services
  • Better controls of FQDNs

     

    Office Communications Online:

     

  • P2P A/V across firewall
  • File transfer across firewall
  • Presence with pictures
  • Federation
  • IM with Windows Live

     

    Platform Updates:

     

  • Free/Busy co-existence
  • Single Sign On
  • Identity federation
  • Redesigned admin interface
  • More administration and access control

    There are some really awesome additions here, which will make BPOS hugely more attractive and credible to users in the mid-market segment. Some of the game changes are, in my opinion,:

    Exchange Online:

    • Transport Rules
    • Legal Hold
    • Unified Messaging
    • Remote Powershell

    Sharepoint Online:

    Extranet & Anonymous Access

    Cross Site Collection Search

    Visio, Access & Excel Services

    Office Communications Online:

    Federation.

     

    These new features bring Microsoft’s Online Services so much closer to feature parity with their existing on-premise brethren which is what I, and most people, have been waiting/asking/pleading/clamouring for. The number of times I’ve had a customer opportunity collapse due to BPOS missing a standard and relatively basic feature isn’t funny!

    This is a very positive move from Microsoft which will make the world of Online Services a much better place for Microsoft, it’s partners and our customers :-)

  • BPOS 2010 aka Wave 14


    BPOS (Business Productivity Online Suite), Microsoft’s Online Services offering has been somewhat successful over the last year or so, but it is about to become a much more robust platform. Over the next few months the “Wave 14” rollout will begin, with an aim to being completed by the end of 2010.

    The biggest update is that the products will match the versions that are available to purchase “on-site”. That is, BPOS will offer Exchange 2010 and Sharepoint 2010 with near feature parity; removing one of the biggest hurdles to BPOS adoption…at least in my experience.

    However, there are a number of other additions and improvements coming…

    Identity and authentication has been an issue for many people, as this whole area is quite clunky & “un-modern”. As Program Manager Dan Kershaw says:

    “the password policy isn’t configurable, you can’t use the same credentials used inside the company for single sign-on with BPOS so admins have to maintain separate credentials, there’s no two-factor authentication and no role-based administration”.

    The fact that Microsoft recognise these limitations is great as that means they’re also working on fixes. The update will bring:

    • Password Policy controls
    • Five admin roles
    • Federated ID’s w/ 2 factor authentication for single sign-on
    • New Admin Console
    • Service connector for managing Pcs & apps.

     

    Powershell is definitely the way forward for 21st century system admins and, while it can be used for certain things with the current iteration of BPOS, more is coming soon.

    I covered off some of the new features of Sharepoint Online 2010 in this post but now there is more information on what’s coming for Office Communications Online (OCO) over the next year.

    Currently OCO gives IM and presence, along with peer to peer video, only within the customer’s domain. One of it’s biggest limitations is the inability to “federate” with on-premise OCS servers…this slightly puzzling block will be removed with Wave 14.

    It’s said there will be “full integration” with Exchange & Sharepoint, both on-site and online.

    This will lead to:

    • using the calendars on Exchange/Sharepoint to determine someone’s IM availability
    • voicemail in Exchange Online
    • IM functionality in OWA 2010.

    One of the biggest questions people have is whether Office Comms Online will have VOIP/Voice capabilities.

    "it might be more than a year later," says Ziv Fass, Senior Product Manager in the OCS team "but it won’t be years".

    From a reseller AND a customer point of view, the updated versions of Microsoft’s Online Services will be a real benefit to us all.

    Office Communications Server (OCS) 14


    Microsoft have given the first public views of Office Communications Server (OCS) 14 and it seems to be following the social networking/integration path of Office & Sharepoint 2010.

    One thing that I like the look of is:

    Skill Search

    Employees enter their skills/interests into their Sharepoint profile and these are then searchable from OCS 14.

    This really ties into how a lot of people use OCS/Communicator most of the time, especially Microsoft employees. Say I ask a question about Sharepoint 2010 and my contact doesn’t know, they jump into Communicator and ping a quick IM to the relevant person. For a major product like Sharepoint, it’s quite likely that they’ll know who they need to speak to…

    But let’s say I ask a question about co-authoring in Live Web Apps or configuring shared mailboxes in Exchange Online, there’s a good chance that they won’t know who they need to talk to:

    image

    Do a quick search for “BPOS”, “Live”, “web apps” etc and bada-boom…person found :-)

    The Office Wave 14 products are all aimed at making collaboration a much easier, attractive proposition to users with Sharepoint as the Central hub (save to Sharepoint, Office Web Apps etc). One of the other key tenets is increasing productivity and Skill Search fits into that perfectly :-)

    There’s no mention of if/when a public beta of OCS 14/2010 will be released but MS did reveal that the Technical Adoption Program (TAP) kicked off “days ago”.

    OCS 2007 R2 did a good job of introducing a lot of the features that users had asked for, and it seems that OCS 2010 is bringing it in line with Web 2.0 and Social Media…which now is definitely what users want.

    Info and picture courtesy of ZDNet

    Microsoft’s Translate–a-Phone


    Microsoft don’t always get the credit they deserve for being innovative, cutting-edge and cool but this new project is all those things.

    Software that translates, pretty much on the fly, the real time conversation you’re having…with a real person…right now. Awesome and very useful! As you can see in the video below, it will transcribe and translate the audio and paste it into Office Communicator for you; it will then also allow you to archive that off into Exchange. Seeing,and hearing, the real time translation is pretty amazing…the German is being spoken at a regular, conversational rate and while there are some grammatical/syntaxical errors, it’s more than good enough to get the gist of what the other person is saying.

    This is going to be hugely useful is so many areas, especially in multi-national corporations. Bechtle are in (I think) 14 countries and there are times that this would be brilliant.

    Of our foreign locations, I have most contact with our German HQ and while I speak rudimentary German, and they pretty great English, sometimes that just isn’t enough. Particularly if discussing complicated/technical issues you don’t want the added complexity of words (if not sentences) being missed out or mis-understood…and this would go a long way to removing that element of doubt. I’m off to see if I can become some kind of tester for this ;-)

    Shout out to Tech Flash for this.

    MS BPOS Connectivity Test


    The Microsoft Online (BPOS) team have released an excellent tool, which measures the upload/download speeds of your connection to show how it would fare with using BPOS services.

    This tests the speed of your connection:

    image

    This looks at the routes:

    image

    This analyses the capacity:

    image

    Details:

    This tool helps you understand the quality of the Internet connection between your environment and Microsoft Online Services. It does not measure your environment compatibility with Microsoft Online Services. The tool performs three tests:

    • Speed: This test measures your actual download and upload speeds, quality of data, and TCP efficiency. It uses TCP/20000 for download testing and TCP/20001 for upload testing.
    • Route: This test validates your connection quality, including packet loss, latency, round trip, and ISP peering points. It uses Internet Control Message Protocol (ICMP).
    • Capacity: This test measures your potential maximum download and upload speeds. It uses UDP/8090.

     

    Thoughts:

    Potentially this is going to be very useful when speaking to customers about BPOS, as one of the big worries that many people have is there connection not being good enough. They worry that suddenly throwing all their internal email, as well as Sharepoint uploads/downloads could be too much for their existing networks; this could be an easy way of showing exactly what it can and can’t handle. The reason I say “potentially” and “could” is this:

    image

    The results seem to be aimed solely at VOIP traffic for using Office Communications Online (OCO). However, it still shows them that their bandwidth etc is, so it’s definitely useful but it would be nice if it had a separate answer for each of the products.

    That said, the above does point towards something else…currently OCO only contains the Presence and Instant Message (IM) features. I’ve heard on the grapevine that VOIP calls will be coming to OCO but this is the first definite sign that this is underway :-)

    Being able to use Office Comms Online for Voice calls will be a huge selling point for customers as the on-site version (Office Communications Server (OCS)) can be quite tricky to install and get running correctly. Normally I’d guess we’ll see this in the US first and not here for a while but the URL for this tool is:

    http://speedtest.emea.microsoftonline.com/

    Note the EMEA (Europe, Middle East & Africa) part…looks like we’ll be getting it pretty soon too…I’ll see what further info I can find out from MS ;-)

    As Paul from Worktivity points out in the comments, if you’re outside of EMEA the links you need are:

    For the APAC region: http://speedtest.apac.microsoftonline.com/
    For America’s region: http://speedtest.microsoftonline.com/

    Thanks to @worktivity who’s tweet alerted me to this…

    New features of Exchange 2010


    Microsoft Exchange 2010 is nearly here so I’ve just been going through some of the free e-learning that’s available (here) to see what’s new.

    Unified Communications:

    There have been many improvements around the Unified Messaging piece including:

    SMS Notification of missed calls

    Message waiting indicators

    Personal Auto Attendant

    Users can have voicemail transcribed into their chosen language

    Voice mails are now protected from unauthorised forwarding, copying and extracting

    These enhancements should lead to the UC aspects of Exchange gaining more traction. Previously they’ve been seen as quite superfluous and “nice to have” rather than a “need to have” (at least in my experience); now however the user productivity gains are apparent.

    Another big one is Federated Calendar Sharing, allowing you to easily share info with 3rd party organisations, using Windows Live as the trust broker. You need an internet accessible Client Access Server (CAS) as calendar sharing is done via web services – thusno special ports need opening.

    Microsoft Clustering Services are no longer needed to get High Availability (HA) with Exchange 2010.

    Things to know for deployment:

    Can upgrade from 2003 to 2010

    AD must be at least in

    Windows Server 2003 forest functionality mode

    Also, you must have at least one Windows 2003 Service Pack 2 Global Catalog server in every Active Directory site that will have an Exchange 2010 server.

    Note that Read-only domain controllers (RODC) and read-only global catalog (ROGC) servers are not supported.

    Exchange 2010 does NOT support in place upgrades.

    Read-only domain controllers (RODC) and read-only global catalog (ROGC) servers are not supported

    Storage:

    Microsoft have made a number of changes in this area and, at least to me, they seem like great improvements. They’ve worked hard to reduce the I/O traffic and this is done via:

    IOPS changed to write more data at fewer intervals

    Merged I/O instances

    Both of these reduce the number of operations and improving performance. Two more improvements include:

    Larger cache size (32kb)

    Sequential data storage reduces I/O

    They have also removed the Database maintenance windows by pushing the defrag process into the background.

    All that and more, along with moving diagrams and voiceovers can be found here:

    http://www.microsoft.com/learning/en/us/training/exchange-server.aspx

    Microsoft: The New Efficiency


    At today’s “New Efficiency” launch event, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer spoke about Windows 7 deployments and how customers can save money with the latest OS. He particularly mentioned that Windows 7 “will bring $90-$160 saving per pc per year”.

    He also discussed the “Consumerisation of IT”, where users bring/force change in Corporate IT via their expectations from using software at home. He said that it isn’t a new phenomenon (it just has a new name) and that it will continue to be a huge driving force in the way that software is designed and used-such as the extra social networking features being added into Office, Exchange & Sharepoint.

    This all led to the launch of a new website:

    http://vepexp.microsoft.com/thenewefficiency

    which contains dozens of videos from MS execs covering topics such as:

    • Discover Windows Optimized Desktop
    • Learn about Optimized Server
    • Experience Unified Communications
    • Explore Business Ready Security

    There are a bunch of videos on Exchange 2010 such as:

    • Upgrade & Deployment
    • High Availability
    • Mobility & Active Sync
    • Email Archiving

    and more. These are a great source of information on Exchange 2010, some of which I’ve collected here.

    The banner below is a great representation of the products & ideas behind the New Efficiency.

    image

    There are way too many sessions to list here but MS have put together some suggested sessions listings for:

    • Enterprises
    • Mid-Size
    • SMB’s

    They contain links to the videos on the New Efficiency site and can be downloaded from my SkyDrive here.

    Microsoft OCS & Roundtable


    I had a great Live Meeting with a customer day where we discussed how Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007 and the MS Roundtable device is helping them in their organization…and I have to say it was one of the most positive chats I’ve had with a customer for quite a while!

    They are a very large international organization with operations on pretty much every continent (save Antarctica I believe) with 100’000s of users across 100’s of countries. As you can imagine, that means there are a lot of meetings to be had and thus a lot of flights to be made and hotels to be stayed (in). There international travel costs come to 1,000’000’s of Euro’s a year and that is something they wanted/needed to cut-especially in the recent climate.

    Using Live Meeting and Roundtable for Video Conferencing means some individual sites are saving over £1,000 per week in travel costs alone! Certain people were flying to Europe 3 times a month and that has now been reduced to once every 2 months at the most…as well as the cost savings, the reduction in carbon emissions is phenomenal :-) Since it’s installation, OCS has been used for 12,000,000 minutes of remote conversation!!!

    The customer termed Live Meeting/OCS & Roundtable as “the dog’s bollocks” ;-)

    Live Meeting’s ability to share desktops and applications as well as Powerpoint slide shows makes it the perfect medium for showing remote workers how to use a new system, showing technicians the error you’re experiencing as well as standard presentations etc. Also, the fact that you can take control of a remote desktop means Helpdesk’s can use it to quickly see and solve user’s issues. The Roundtable, with it’s full 360 degree panoramic display helps remote users feel more connected to the information being delivered and the people delivering it!

    One situation where Video Conferencing comes in very handy is with pregnancy. Both us internally and the customer I was talking to have got staff who’s wives are very close to giving birth…but there are also important European meetings close on the horizon…”ruh roh” as Scooby may say! Usually the choice would be:

      • Don’t go
      • Go and risk missing the birth

    Neither of these are brilliant solutions, so Video Conferencing gives us a 3rd option:

      • Stay here and conference in with full video and VOIP audio.

    That way the user can still make their contributions as well as learn from everyone else, while being close enough to home to dash off to the hospital at a moment’s notice!