Microsoft’s Lync 2013 Flunks the Unified Communications Opportunity

Some things are just too good to be true, and Microsoft’s vision for Lync 2013 – its desktop unified communications product – is a good case in point. It’s almost a shame, because rationalizing the many different channels of communication that business users have access to – email, chat, social, video conference, voice – under a single application has enormous potential for optimizing how people collaborate.  And Microsoft’s vision for Lync, as spelled out at its sold-out first-ever Lync conference last month, was a singularly beautiful vision of instant-on, real-time communications enabling amazing feats of collaboration never before possible.

Too bad trying to make this vision happen with the current product set is just a dream – or actually, if my example is any indication  – a bloody nightmare. Based on my experience of the last week just trying to wire up Lync with my Office 365 account, Lync isn’t worth the trouble. But finding out just what Lync and Office 365 can do together once they are wired together – a big fat nothing, actually – made the four calls to Lync tech support and the two calls to my ISP’s tech support a complete and utter waste of time.

Why did I bother in the first place? Because I was intrigued by the promises that Tony Bates, the president of Microsoft’s Skype division, and Derek Burney, the SVP of Lync Engineering, gave at the Lync conference keynote. Their basic message was about how Lync could bring unified communications to my Windows 8 desktop and myriad Microsoft and non-Microsoft devices, and I had to find out if it was true. Because if it was, I wanted in: like most people, I spend a lot of time bouncing between different voice, email, chat, and video conference technologies,  all of which I have to access from different apps with no central management and no way to keep track of all my communications channels, much less rationalize their use.  Having a single pane of glass with which to manage all my communications would be a huge time savings, and would definitely lead to some much-needed efficiency as well.

This ability to manage all communications from a single application is the promise of unified communications, one of those market opportunities that I equate with social collaboration – a great theory that lacks a critical mass of equally great, compelling reasons why the enterprise should embrace the theory full force. This is mostly because, like social collaboration, unified communications proponents have tended to heave their technology up on the proverbial enterprise wall in the vain hope that it will stick, despite failing to articulate how unified communications can directly impact specific business processes.

In other words, the pitch for UC has been largely about cool technology without any attempt to tie that technology directly to that class of enterprise problems that keep line of business leaders up at night. UC is not seen as a solution to a problem these business users have: I can assure you that none of them are waking up at 2 am, smacking their foreheads, and saying “unified communications, that’s what’ll save my bacon.”

So, absent a compelling business context that could interest a business user, buying UC has been relegated to the purview of procurement departments who aren’t paid to pay attention to expensive technology-driven fantasies masquerading as strategies. The result – UC is another market that never lived up to its potential.

But I do believe there is more to this market than ignominy: if there was a great UC platform with a great consumer-like user experience, one that could support existing channels as well as new and emerging one, and it was sold by a vendor that understood how to use UC to enhance some key, bedrock business processes, unified communications, or something like it, could become a powerful force for innovation in the enterprise.

So, while I have been skeptical about the promise of UC, when I saw the Lync conference keynote I had to give Microsoft’s new entry a try. Maybe the only company that effectively plays in both the consumer and the business world will have come up with the perfect bridge product that could light a fire under the promise of UC and give this moribund market a good kick in the keister.

I also figured I was probably a good test case for trying to see if Lync can give the market that kick: I run Office 365, Windows 8, and Skype – which are three of the fundamental building blocks that were referenced in the keynote. And I know enough about the enterprise to see how Lync could give UC some much-needed enterprise context.

If only I could have gotten it to work.

As I had three of the building blocks already, all that was needed was Lync 2013, which was downloaded from the Windows 8 store and was immediately dead on arrival, as I couldn’t sign into Lync using my Office 365 credentials. The problem, once I talked to tech support, was that I had to configure the DNS records in my email domain to allow this connection to take place – easy enough if you know how to do it, though any time you need to call tech support you know you’re no longer in the realm of the obvious. And I had to check with my ISP to make sure that I wasn’t going to totally destroy something else (like kill off my email, for example) by making these changes to the arcane innards of my email account.

In the end, getting the DNS record right wasn’t actually that easy, and it took two more calls to Lync and another call to my ISP before I could sign on and open up the Lync screen. That’s a lot of support just to get to the starting gate – and no way to get there without actually talking to a human expert, as searching the Lync support database was useless. (Partly because Microsoft’s byzantine naming conventions make it hard to get past Lync Server, Lync 2010, and all the other Lyncs in order to find information specific to Lync 2013.)

But once I got Lync up and running, I had to place another call to tech support: I couldn’t figure out how to get that great UC experience up and running as well. I had expected to be able to unify my different communications channels, chat or Skype my contacts from Lync, set up video or conference calls with colleagues, and do all the cool stuff you could see Burney and Bates doing in the keynote.

Wrong, wrong, wrong. What Microsoft doesn’t tell you is that Lync is a walled in community – if the people you want to do the UC thing with aren’t using Lync, you’re SOL: you can’t chat with them, call them, video conference, nothing. Unified communications be damned – Lync can only unify Lync communications. And barely, at that: Skype integration doesn’t come for another couple of months, apparently. To add insult to injury, my attempt to chat with a Microsoft contact whom I know uses Lync returned an error message: Tech support said I needed to email my contact and ask permission to Lync to her. Lync itself couldn’t handle the request.

As for the rest of my contacts, it would nice, at least,  if you’re living inside the Lync moat to be able to tell a priori if the person you want to communicate with is a Lync user. Unfortunately, there’s no way to know who in Outlook is also a Lync user. Outlook and Lync aren’t synchronized, so you have  to guess who might have Lync, or wait until someone who uses Lync lets you know they have Lync, or… just not bother using it at all.

Just to further show what a non-starter Lync 2013 is, there’s no way to link Lync to the Outlook contact database, meaning that if you want to use Lync to communicate you have to load your Outlook contacts one by one into the Lync contact database. This forces the user to do double entry contact database management: Once you’ve moved a contact to Lync, Outlook creates a new folder called Lync Contacts, where any changes you make to a Lync contact inside Lync are replicated. But this folder is not synched with the regular Outlook contact information, so those changes aren’t propagated to Outlook. This means you get to try to use your brain, or what’s left of it after all this, to keep track of what changed in which contact list and synch them manually. Advil, anyone?

Did I miss something? That’s what I asked the Lync support person when we went through this mess. The answer was no: Microsoft’s attempt at UC for the desktop is pretty much useless as a UC tool unless everyone you want to communicate with is a Lync user. Frankly, as a pure communication tool Apple’s iOS contact database has it beat by a mile – from my iPhone I can do Facetime with other iOS users – iOS can auto-detect those iOS users – and from this one device’s unified user experience I can phone or chat or email anyone in my contact database.  There’s no management layer per se, and a lot of other UC-like features aren’t available in iOS. But then again it’s not marketed as a UC platform, while Lync, which basically can’t do anything remotely as useful, is.

The moral of the story is that Microsoft once again has let its reach exceed its grasp, and its vision for Lync 2013 as a unified communications platform is just a bunch of vision, and a poorly marketed one at that. It’s a shame that there isn’t a desktop product that could do what Lync is supposed to do, because the mess of communications channels on the desktop is worth cleaning up.

At least Microsoft tried to up the ante in the failed UC market by telling a good story at its Lync conference about making communications “fundamental” and “humanized”, with broken-down barriers and lots of “access” and “reach.” Too bad Microsoft forgot that Lync also needed the features that would make those aspirations real.

 

 

28 thoughts on “Microsoft’s Lync 2013 Flunks the Unified Communications Opportunity

  1. Pingback: Microsoft poised to deliver Lync 2013 apps for iPhone, iPad | Teckat - Technology blog

  2. It almost sounds like perhaps you tried to implement an enterprise UC solution for 1 user? and were expecting it would require no configuration? This is not an uncommon mistake, but I don’t know any professional Microsoft UC Partner (or Cisco, Seimens Ent, Avaya, partner) that will communicate that rolling out an enterprise UC solution will takes no planning or configuration. Specifically, DNS is a very basic configuration requirement for UC of any flavor. Do remember: Consumer products for 1 user, simple setup, no controls; Enterprise is for many users, more features and accomodate organizational policies.

    The difference between consumer and enterprise: http://windowspbx.blogspot.com/2013/03/the-difference-between-lync-and-skype.html

    Your comment: “…Lync is a walled community…”
    Currently Lync Server 2013 on premise provides connectivity to Office365 (full), other Lync, Skype (IM/P, soon audio) and Google (IM/P) out of the box. At the moment, to my knowledge there is no other enterprise solution that achieves this level of interconnecitivity of enterprice UC users and consumers. But even just Lync interconnectivity: is there any enterprise UC solution that is interconnecting more business users via HD Audio/Video/Desk sharing federation? And these users can be running PC, Mac, iPhone, Ipad, Android or Windows phone. It would be interesting to hear another solution that connects more enterprise users, with PC/Mac’s/Mobile devices that also bring voice calling and collaboration together? http://bit.ly/lyncfed

    To note that Lync is a “walled garden” and then suggest an Apple app, that can only communicate to other Apple devices is better, is an interesting.

    Your Comment: “…you have to load your Outlook contacts one by one into the Lync contact database…”
    You can easily search Outlook contact directly from inside Lync. Inversely, you can see presence and start a Lync conversation directly from inside OUtlook.

    Your comment: “iOS Facetime/Contact List has it beat”
    Facetime has a simple, intuitive UI, but that said, many consumer communication apps do. If an app provides less functionality it can be simple. (but can facetime share a screen? do a voice over IP call to none apple? etc) But at the moment not too many companies are implementing Facetime, or other consumer apps,as enterprise UC that I am aware of.

    Thanks for the oppertunity to comment!

  3. Thanks for your thoughtful comment. You’re right, Lync Server is an enterprise product, but the Lync 2013 app I downloaded from the Windows 8 store is meant to be more of a consumer product, or at least present a consumer user experience. That’s not what I got: Reworking the DNS record is no big deal, but the fact that I had to talk to Tech Support twice to even get that done — mostly because there is no set-up wizard or trouble-shooting app for Lync, so no way to even begin to understand why Lync just sat there doing nothing — is a big consumer experience fail. And no direct sync between Outlook contact DB and Lync contact DB reminds me of the previous Windows Phone versions – you needed to use Google Calendar (!!!)to link an Outlook calendar to a Windows Phone Calendar: Microsoft should get its own product interoperability right out of the gates, and the Outlook/Lync non-synch is another example of consumer fail.
    Thanks again for the dialogue,
    Josh

    • Hi Josh,

      There are troubleshooting tools and deployment tools available for Lync and depending on how you deploy either on-prem or in o365 these tools can differ. Sorry you had trouble identify them but they are there. The Lync connectivity analyzer would have addressed your initial comments and given you some indication why your client was not working https://www.testocsconnectivity.com/ .

      Lync, whether from the Windows store, iTunes etc is an enterprise product designed with the controls required for companies to ensure a secure experience with a great UI. Which is why Microsoft like a lot of companies secures its corporate IM with controls over who you can talk to and the reason you just couldn’t jump into a conversation with someone that works at Microsoft. It is by design and the way Microsoft has deployed its own internal deployment that you couldn’t just ping someone.

      The different apps available for mobile, which the Windows store is one of, enable a user to interact with Lync from a variety of devices with a similar experience across them all. I am sorry that your experience was less than expected but had you walked into a deployed system with actual users already up and running rather than just trying to build a o365 tenant of one user your experience would have been markedly different. Lync was not designed for the company of one although I do understand how you were trying to perceive it could be used as a lone individual it just wasn’t designed with this in mind.

      As Matt points out federation is available from Lync to other companies using Lync as well as Public IM systems. Last time I check Facetime is a closed system with no ability to contact anyone outside of Facetime the only thing you reference is contact search which is great but had you tried the Lync iOS apps that is something you can actually do. So while there may be some slight disparity between the Windows App had you tried the OS you reference Lync does a pretty nice job of fitting in that space and providing the consumer feel you’re after. The Windows Store App is a work in progress as are all apps and this may be a nice future enhancement but there were recently a host of new features added that are aimed at the corporate directory and Exchange Unified contact store search. Had you been using Lync in a corporate setting you would have seen these benefits although I am sure you will disagree.

      The Skype Lync integration enhancements as presented in the keynote you mentioned are slated for June of this year. There are features available today if you sign into Skype with your Microsoft account but largely June is the date where the initial rollout of the features mentioned in the keynote. So they are on their way along with the merger of Skype and Windows Live Messenger. A work in progress but sorry for your confusion on expectations of functions right now. I am not sure how Microsoft is to blame for not meeting your expectations of having a feature which as you noted is coming.

      Lastly Lync is not a consumer product. You keep referring to consumer fail but your experience is more aligned with a lack of recognizing the difference between a well-managed secure enterprise service and that of a consumer service like Skype. No UC vendors experience would have been any different. If you want a consumer experience that requires no effort to setup and integrates into your Google/yahoo/whatever calendar, use a consumer product. If you have a corporate environment and want a secure deployment with corporate controls and features then use a an enterprise grade product. I see your blog like saying I want a blog site to host my weblog so I am going to setup SharePoint (a corporate product) when I could have just used a more suitable consumer service like Blogspot or WordPress. The two experiences are going to be completely different along with the features and controls.

      Hope this helps with understanding your experience.

      Cheers
      Chris

      • Chris,

        Thanks for your comments. Had Lync tech support or some easily available on line resource been able to point me to the tool you mentioned, perhaps I would have spent less time with Tech Support and had a different set of expectations and results. These and other resources are not readily available from within O365 or the Lync support pages – I’m not all that bad at search, and I never saw that resource until I saw your comment.

        I appreciate the comments about enterprise vs. consumer, which is a common critique of my post. I maintain that the two experiences have to be convergent in today’s market, and that the presentations at the Lync conference made it very clear that this convergence is a major design goal for Lync. I admit in retrospect that I took Microsoft at face value and jumped the gun on this consumer/enterprise convergence, but I think my conclusions are valid – if Microsoft wants Lync to be the converged UC experience that its marketing says it is, then they need to make set up and configuration something that is at least is accessible to a business consumer. The fact that a relatively tech-savvy person like me (though admittedly I am not a UC expert of your caliber) couldn’t get to square one without a lot of tech support shows a hole in the intersection of marketing and reality.

        The Facetime example was mentioned because this is the expectation that everyone outside the UC world has about what unified communications (with a small “u” and “c”) are all about in terms of ease of use. Lync needs to be more like Facetime and less like Sharepoint, though I agree that it can and will do much more than is possible with Facetime. Calling out Skype wasn’t really unfair – the promise for June is full integration, the fact that there is not a drop of integration on any level today seems again like a missed opportunity. Skype is linked to Microsoft Online, and Facebook credentials are used to sign in. I was hoping there would be something, anything, that I could do with Skype from Lync., but that was not to be.

        Your comment about security and accessibility is well-taken, but again, placing limits around access and security should be in the context of a consumer-like experience, even for an enterprise class product. The fact that Lync returned an obscure error message and code when I tried to ping a Microsoft employees who is definitely a Lync user is a further example of the misfire in the user experience.

        In the end, setting up and debugging UC doesn’t have to be obscure and inaccessible to anyone but a UC expert, or, to be more blunt, if all Microsoft can do is keep UC in the domain of the deep experts such as yourself then it is failing its best shot at making this market a success for everyone. I admit I’m a company of one (or two or three, depending on the day and the project) but I think the test I conducted is a valid one – had I been in a small company of 20, where IT functions are often carried out by staff who are techies but not full time tech staffers, I would have still failed in a use case that Lync is actually designed to support.

        Again, thanks for your expertise and the opportunity to dialogue about this.
        Josh

        • Hi Josh,

          I agree that UC vendors are looking at what works in the consumer space and trying to emulate that to a degree, and I don’t want to limit this to just Microsoft but we also have to consider what you do and expect as a consumer is very different compared to an enterprise. Let’s use Google Hangouts as an example. Simple to use, great for casual consumer use but try and hold a conference call with 100 people with control of the audience. Clearly the conference call of a 100 people is an enterprise use case. Can’t do it. Meanwhile with Lync you can. So a pretty simple example but you can see expectations are clearly different for an enterprise versus consumer. The UI experience is only one small piece of the overall design when it comes to UC.

          Is the UI design perfect, no. Will it ever be perfect, probably not. Let’s face it for every person that loves a product there is another who dislikes it so I don’t want to belabor the consumer versus enterprise argument any longer but Microsoft in my opinion is the furthest along of all the UC vendors in this space by a considerable amount. The latest mobile releases really do speak to those efforts.

          Another item that you might want to consider is a hoster of Lync. Plenty of them out there and with a focus on SMB. They take the burden of configuration and deployment on so you don’t have to. So another option we really didn’t explore but still valid.

          Anyway I have said my piece. Thanks for taking the time to respond.

          Cheers
          Chris

        • your comment “… and that the presentations at the Lync conference made it very clear that this convergence is a major design goal for Lync…”

          Microsoft made it extremely clear at Lync Conf 2013 that Lync is for Enterprise and Skype is for consumer and there is no plan to roll them into one product. (writers,bloggers/competitors may be hypothethizing about this, but msft noted no such plans) Your word “convergence” is what I have been noticing some are using (but defining sloppily) and taking to mean “merged” when in fact it means “connected”. I know other vendors (avaya, which to their credit has corrected this language) and some bloggers are incorrectly communicating this connecting of Lync and Skype. The distinction is important. The way to think of Skype and Lync: Seperate but able to connect. This is called federation, and in fact Lync can connect in the same way to Google. (but only at IM/P level at this time)

          Notice the last two photos in this blog. they are both taken directly form microsoft presentation at LyncConf13:
          http://windowspbx.blogspot.com/2013/03/the-difference-between-lync-and-skype.html

          your comment “the [skype] promise for June is full integration, the fact that there is not a drop of integration on any level today…”

          several points of correction here. #1-IM/P & Audio for June 2013. #2-Instant Message and Presence has been working for some as early as Nov 2012:

          http://windowspbx.blogspot.com/2012/11/how-to-enable-skype-to-lync-20102013.html

          your comment “everyones definition of uc is ease of use”

          Lync as enterprise UC solution provides a super easy end user experience and I think this is a big reason it is dispacing other solutions. If you mean uc means easy implementation and admistration, I don’t know of one vendor that defines uc this way. (as a side note: lync server is the only uc product i know of that you install 1 server and get instant message, presence, audio, video, a/v conferencing, web meetings and pbx features–with a single server install!)

          thanks again!

    • Josh,

      You have a fundamental misunderstanding about Microsoft Lync. Your negative review is especially troublesome (and borderline unethical) because you provide professional network consulting services.

      It is your responsibility, as a network professional, to educate oneself on the products you work with and recommend. There are published books, TechNet articles, and Microsoft certifications that all focus on the proper implementation of Lync.

      Please do not trash a fine product because of your limited knowledge. I encourage you to research the product further.

      -Steven J.

      • Sorry you disagree, but I stand by what I wrote: Lync 2013 has had well-documented problems, and the particular problems that stymied my use of it were acknowledged as bugs by the Lync team. I was invited to use Lync for the particular online meeting by the Lync team, so it was by their definition an appropriate use case. Reporting on how dismally it failed is negative, but hardly unethical.

  4. Your comment “Lync app store should present consumer experience”
    I think perhaps your mixing the admins experience and the end user experience. (perhaps in your case you were both?) But the expectation for Office365 is that there will be an admin that takes care of backend (DNS? user enable, etc) issues and end users that have a seamless, consumer-like experience.

    Your comment “there is no direct Outlook to Lync contact sync”
    I’d like to hear how you are envisioning this to work? I think maybe you are asking for the Lync 2013 / Exchange 2013 Unified Contact Store, but not 100% You can read more here:
    http://blog.insidelync.com/2012/08/the-lync-2013-preview-unified-contact-store-ucs/

    Your Comment “Microsoft should get its own product interoperability right out of the gates”
    This would be great, of course. ;-) But saying a product may not be released until every possible aspect and integration is complete doesn’t quite hold up to reality. :-) But seeing as Lync has already providing value other UC vendors are not (having the largest network of interconnected /Federated ,enterprise grade UC collaboration) this would be an argument for getting the product out so its current value can be utilized.

    Thanks

  5. You’re right… technology vendors often don’t take time to provide business context, focusing lists of features and buzzwords instead.

    How do you improve customer satisfaction? Control costs? Support innovation? We started with business goals and identified different ways collaboration technology can help you meet those objectives.

    Check out: http://www.cisco.com/assets/sol/coll/use_case_tool/index.htm

    I think it’s especially important to show that context with UC and collaboration products because they’re tools that people interact with every day in attempting to solve their business challenges. The ideal equation combines culture with technology.

  6. Hi Josh

    Interesting dialog with Mtt Landis, whom I can only presume is from Microsoft. I have not tried to exercise Lync to the extent you have, and then only in a business context. In fact through working with a partner that uses Lync. I have to say as a web conference system it beats out the competition, including Cisco’s Webex and a host of others, and is a big step up from Live Meeting.

    But the dialog does bring out the fundamental issue the Microsoft is battling with, namely the consumerization of IT. Should they stick to their install base within the enterprise or extend into the consumer market? I think Lync is great in the enterprise and have not tried it as a consumer.

    Ultimately your blog poses the question of how many platforms can be supported in a web environment where the marginal cost of integration across platforms outweighs the incremental benefits obtained from a specific platform. I think this is true of many other sytems used to support cross-functional processes.

    So, while we celebrate the start-up culture fostered in the internet-age, I think we are fast maturing to a point where getting to scale quickly is hugely important, and scale is itself a barrier to entry because of the need (and cost) to integrate to other platforms at an early stage. Do you see any de facto standards emerging so that the cross-platform cost will not be so high?

    Regards
    Trevor

  7. Great post!

    We use Office 365. Initially I was excited at the possibility of using Lync but realized that it doesn’t even come with an audio conferencing capability (other than VOIP). MS wants you to sign up for this via AT&T or another provider!

    Are they kidding?

    By the way, if you haven’t tried Uber conference, I recommend you give it a try. It’s good. (disclosure: I have NO relationships with the Uber conference company).

  8. Pingback: Microsoft poised to deliver Lync 2013 apps for iPhone, iPad | toppedapps

  9. Interesting conversation – thanks for this post, Josh!

    As a very tech savvy power user of all imaginable consumer devices / apps and enterprise solutions at the same, I respectfully disagree with the sentiment of two separate UX/UI philosophies. In fact, if an enterprise application isn’t as joyful to use as my favourite app I use in my private life, I will just bring my own. If you don’t have an appropriate file sharing system, I will use Dropbox; if you don’t have an easy-to-use video conferencing solution, I will use Facetime or zoom.us for multi-party calls. And the list goes on.
    The times that we all need to “learn” different apps for when we are at or off work are over. Actually, not offering a consumer-grade experience in the enterprise is not even an option anymore. We all live in a world where we work from wherever and whenever and need the tools around us which makes that easier – and makes all of us more productive. It seems that this is what Josh wanted to achieve in the first place. Convergence is key. If I have to read a manual, I am not interested.

    And no matter how you slice it, Microsoft is a “walled garden”, or in more diplomatic terms “it all works (best) when it’s all Microsoft”… I would like to challenge Matt on his statement that “no other vendor connects more enterprise users today”, as Siemens Enterprise Communications connects you on any device with HD Audio, Video, Web Collaboration, interworks with the video solution of your liking and even the PBX of the competition if you really must + is completely open and standards based, so that any developer can add on to his or her liking.

    But having said all that, it’s not even about connectivity any longer. Connectivity is just a pre-requisite. What it’s really about, is that ecosystem around the Anywhere Worker, an environment which fosters team collaboration, improves business process and and ultimately increases business performance!

    All the best.
    Torsten

    • Torsten,

      I’d be glad to chat and hear pov on “connected users”. This is something I’m interested in. If you have Google, AOL, LiveMessenger, Skype, Office365 or Lync, just send me your ID and we can start the conversation asap…:-)

  10. Since the on-premise version on Lync 2013 supports various federations – e.g. XMPP for Google Chat, then to AOL, YIM & Messenger, then later this year for Skype – does anyone know if/when this will be enabled on Office 365? I can consider a handful of technical challenges for it, but it would make the service much more compelling to me, and to you.

  11. Look, i’m not sure what product you are discussing but I have had zero issue with integrating Lync and my Office365 E4 suite of services.

  12. Pingback: Microsoft poised to deliver Lync 2013 apps for iPhone, iPad | Geek

  13. Lync is a mess of a product with Office 365. Its simply not a mature UC that you can depend on. About 10% of our meetings have issues with Lync, about every two weeks some user cannot sign in due to freak certificate issues, the audio quality is atrocious when dealing with parties in other countries. In a LAN only environment with a local server, this product might be great, but as a global conferencing platform with Office 365 its painful. Even worse is the lack of controls and options as an Administrator. Can I use it to help other people/fix problems? No, because it loves UAC controls and blocks me from attempting to control anyone’s computer remotely — no way to disable it. I have an enormous list of issues with Lync that eventually I just gave up hope on.

    I’m also trembling in fear when our Office 365 service gets “upgraded” (we are still on 2010), the list of Lync 2013 issues just astounds me.. how is this product even out of Beta? http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/lync-help/lync-2013-known-issues-HA102919641.aspx

    Sadly, we had so many irate Lync users that we still had to keep a dozen GotoMeeting accounts because of frustration with critical meetings that failed to work. We were considering integrating our Shoretel server into Lync but after using just the client for over a year now there is no doubt that keeping these two products separated is in the best interest of everyone. Just because a product advertises it’s a UC platform doesn’t mean it necessarily is doing it right or reliably. How long did it take Microsoft to get Lync working with MSN IM back when Office 365 started despite them advertising the feature right off the bat? 9 months? Longer? And its very amusing that Microsoft is gloating it can communicate with all the other different platforms now (but uh only with an on-premise Lync server) — ya something that Openfire/Jabber had 5+ years ago.

  14. Reading through this post and the comments, seems some things may have been done incorrectly and/or assumptions about Lync were made.

    We implemented Lync on premise via StartReady and their WA state partner National Communications Services (NCS). The two main problems we had were firewall and SIP trunks. StartReady provides a network configuration tool which provides a firewall, internal DNS and external DNS settings document when it has completed running. We neglected to properly implement all the firewall changes which caused various aspects of Lync to not function properly or at all, working with NCS and SR, we identified our problems and corrected them. We also had an initial problem with our SIP trunks, but that was cleared up once Intelepeer (the SIP trunk provider) fixed a few issues on their end.

    Also, we have Lync working flawlessly with Office365, including voicemail (NCS also helped us to implement this integration).

  15. In my experience, the entire Lync family of products is practically unusable. It barely works as an instant messenger. It often fails as an audio/video conferencing system. And it *completely* fails as a “unified” communications tool. As usual, unless you have end-to-end-Microsoft-everything, good luck getting it to integrate at all.

  16. Not sure what you were using, but our company (40,000 global employees) has been using Lync for the past few years and recently migrated to 2013.

    It is an excellent tool. I live on conference calls working on projects. It integrates very well with Outlook. Recording is simple. Presenting is simple. Keeping in touch is simple.

    Now with 2013, I can make calls to colleagues across the globe at no charge (outside conf calls).

    It works great on Windows 8. I also have it installed on my Android phone, works great. Others on our company have on their iOS phone, works great.

    Sorry for your bad experience, but as a corporate user, this product is simply outstanding.

  17. We run Lync in 17 countries and it’s a fantastic tool, we run Lync in O365, for all 17 countries with one of our US facilities also running Lync as the phone system (soon to do in all), we’ve also connected Lync to our cisco video systems.

    I run on Windows 8 and 7 and iPhone

    Imagine being in an airport when an emergency meeting is called, I crack open (any device) but on this occasion I used iPhone – participated in a video conference right there.

    Perhaps it’s not Lync that has the issue – but the ability of your consultants or team to setup properly.. No product should get bad marks because of poor implementation

  18. Hi All,

    I would be very interested to know how Lync is supposed to operate in medium to large meeting rooms, the Polycom DSPs are the only certified Lync processors available. Why is this? To me it sounds strange that a product clearly aimed at Corporate Communications cannot slot in to an installed sound environment without having to either replace the DSP or be lucky to have chosen Sound Structure in the first place. I discovered that Biamp supported Lync and then withdrew support on a later firmware release. I can only conclude that either Lync is not going to gain sufficient market share for DSP manufactuerers to invest in development or ‘issues’ are causing them to withdraw support until such time as they can trust it enough to pin thier flags on it. I know you can use USB connections from laptops or include an AMX Enzo or similar to provide GUI for Lync but the client should live on the DSP preventing the need for hand sets or computers in the room. I would be interested in others thoughts on this?
    Thanks
    Hammer.

  19. Pingback: Lync’s Failed Promises in Business Communication | Communication Matters

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