Skype for Business to Teams Rumour – What does it mean to us? Users and Companies alike

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Good Morning All

As twitter and other social media streams are in a frenzy about what seems to be emerging as Microsoft’s worst kept secret around the anticipated/leaked name change from Skype for Business to Microsoft Teams, I thought I would try and bring some order to the proceedings and discuss what I think this means to us as a community and companies alike who are currently running Skype for Business as their UC platform and for some currently there telephony solution.

NOTE: I would like to say, these thoughts are my own, and I haven’t been party to any insider knowledge or back of the classroom chats with Microsoft Redmond or the respective Microsoft product groups.

So if the rumours flying around are true? which I have no reason to deny or believe, Microsoft plan to change the name of Skype for Business (PLEASE NOTE: In my opinion and like others on twitter have said before me, I believe that this name change is primarily related to Skype for Business ONLINE only). I don’t think, although I could be totally wrong that the name change flows through to Skype For Business Server/On-Premises. <That could be the other name change we’ve seen mentioned before as well. ‘Microsoft Telephone System’>.

So what we’ve seen so far and still what we don’t know

If you are a Skype for Business Online users, some people/companies are already seeing the name change and upgrade option within their respective o365 tenant portal. But what does this mean?? On clicking upgrade will your companies desktop and laptop estate jump into life like some crazy ransomware virus attack and start on-mass downloading the so called new technology that is Teams?  OR is it a simple backend Microsoft cloud tenant porting script which moves your tenant to the Teams o365 cloud estate with no end user service impacting outage??

For me and in my opinion it has to be the latter of the two mentioned, as I’m 99.999% sure that Microsoft would not force a customer and their end users to a big bang client upgrade from what they know today as in the skype for Business client application to a totally new and visually different interface thus being Teams in a instant upgrade approach. I think what will happen is that on upgrading the tenant to Teams, if a user wanted OR had the Microsoft Teams client installed, they could at their wish seamlessly start using teams instead of the Skype for Business client application, Though brings me onto my other thoughts of Teams and the big elephant in the room… Is Teams commercially ready for use and functionality savvy enough replace Skype for Business Online? Has Teams got full parity of modules and functions like Skype for Business online OR On-premises for that matter? Simple answer for me is no it doesn’t. Teams is lacking still a number of key and almost critical elements which it needs to take over the role of a telephony solution from Skype for Business. these being..

  1. Telephony? At this moment you are not able to call out from Teams to a PSTN DDI number.
  2. Transferring both internal/external calls is not available?
  3. Can teams work without the Skype for Business client being installed?
  4. Multiparty conferences between Teams and existing Skype for Business users isn’t available as yet.
  5. Team federation capabilities?
  6. What happens if you need 3rd party add-ons IE: call recording etc? does that work with teams?

I’m sure if I thought hard enough I could get the list to 10 key areas of functionality differences between the solutions.

This brings me back to my original second opinion that is, for the foreseeable future i think Teams will be reliant on Skype for Business until the Teams offering gets more mature. And I think Microsoft will continue to offer the Skype for Business client as a alternative to companies who doesn’t want the social aspects of what the Teams application brings. If I was Microsoft (Which I’m not), at ignite I would be presenting to the world that they are making Skype for Business and Teams ‘Dual Fuel’ meaning if a client wants a mix of Teams for some departments but the Skype for Business client for others then YES Microsoft can offer that within office365. If a client wanted old school telephony On-Premises ? YES Microsoft can offer that with Skype for Business server, If a client wanted Teams to be purely OnPremises?? Well that’s another story….

So to summarise for me? 

  • I think there will be a name change as mentioned many times on social media now from Skype For Business Online only to Microsoft Teams, but I think this will be a name change and backend tenant upgrade with the option ‘if you want the functionality of teams then install the client or stick with the statuesque and continue using the Skype for business client as your UC client for IM/P and telephony’
  •  Is Skype for Business server being retired (As I heard someone say on twitter a couple of days ago!!) NO absolutely not.. I think Skype for Business Server/OnPremises will be around for years to come with very little changes to the server deployment methods or server estate apart from patching/upgrades and functionality tweaks along the way.
  • I would have a bet though that in the future that Microsoft will produce a Teams product for server/onpremises, for clients with legality requirements. We might see that in Skype for Business VNext maybe?? who knows..

Don’t forget all, for those of us older UC guys, this will be our 4th name change in the Microsoft UC offering yet here we are still specialising in the solutions available from Microsoft.

As always, I would be more than happy to have a conversation with you or your company around what this change means and what is the best approach for you and your company around your Unified Communications Journey.

Right back to the day job …. Iain

 

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Tip for Skype For Mac update push from Microsoft

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Good Morning

For the people who are running Skype for Mac, you will be aware that Microsoft pushes via the MS updater incremental updates for the Skype For Mac client, with the last one hitting on Tuesday 11th Jan into the ‘fast’ build program. This version drop was version 16.3.121 which had some fundamental updates including tweaks to functions and features. “See the bottom of the page for a full list of what is in v121”

This got me thinking as for the last year, I’ve been running SkypeForMac as part of the MS tap program before it was launched back in October 2016. Ever since the first drop which worked alongside Lync2010 although the installation was a ‘next, next, next,finish’ there has always something which didn’t work as expected. Over time and many conversation with the Microsoft product group in Redmond it became the norm that any Skype for Mac updates should always happened AFTER and full uninstall of the old build of the product. To this day i still do the same.

Here is an example of what issues im talking about…

Since day 1 of the client, we have been seeing a duplication of contacts shown in the contacts search and in the build dropped on Monday, one of the updates is the actual fix for this issue. (The issue shows for most people different presence status which is confusing multiple times) See Below…

In the image below this is build 16.2.156 with 16.3.121 installation straight over the top. As you can see v121 is still carrying the issue into the new build which should have fixed the issue.

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So how do why does it happen? and what is the fix?

Sometimes we see issues being carried over due to the update not clearing out old caches of the installation, which is the case for the duplication issue.

As you can see below i have existing containers going back to October 2016 on this Mac which has the duplication issue baked into the data, therefore what we need to do is clear the slate with the cached information.

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The Fix for this duplication issue.

To resolve the duplicate contacts in your search pane, please follow the steps here to clear out cached data that was improperly stored in these files.

NOTE: you will need to re-enter your logon credentials when the tasks below are completed. 

NOTE: re installing the Skype for Business client (removing and re installing) does not remove this data.

Action to Fix is…

  1. Close Skype for Business (Remember this Part first)
  2. Place the following text into your clipboard:
  3. ~/Library/Containers/com.microsoft.SkypeForBusiness
  4. Open Finder and click on Go then Go to Folder.
  5. Paste the clipboard text into the go to folder area and click Go.
  6. When this folder opens, there will be a file called container.plist and a folder called Data.
  7. Move both of these to the trashblog3
  8. Start Skype for Business

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Note: You will be prompted again with the tool tip information which you can just discard.

As you can see on the search the issue is fixed.!

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Now if your like me and want the ‘belt and braces’ approach. I delete the application and underlying folders and do a clean installation every update.

To do this do the following..

  1. Close Skype for Business (Remember this Part first)
  2. Close outlook for Mac
  3. Clear the cached information as per above
  4. To cleanly uninstall Skype of Business on Mac, follow these steps:
    1. Log on to your computer by using administrative credentials.
    2. Exit Skype For Business on Mac if it’s running.
    3. Drag the Skype For Business on Mac application to the Trash.
    4. Remove the existing Skype preferences if these hidden files exist. To do this, follow these steps:
      1. In the Finder menu, click Go, and click Go to Folder.
      2. Delete the following files:
        • /Users/<User>/Library/Containers/com.microsoft.SkypeForBusiness
        • /Users/<User>/Library/Logs/LwaTracing
        • /Users/<User>/Saved Application State/com.microsoft.SkypeForBusiness.savedState
        • /Users/<User>/Preferences/com.microsoft.SkypeForBusiness.plist
    5. Delete the following file:
      • /Library/Internet Plug-Ins/MeetingJoinPlugin.plugin
    6. In the Applications/Utilities folder, open Keychain Access.
    7. In your logon keychains, delete Skype for Business.
  5. Now reinstall the Application and your good to go.

 

For Awareness within 16.3.121 the following was fixed or addressed

January 10, 2017

Version: Build 16.3.121

  • Fixed duplicated contacts and contacts’ email, which were shown at the same time when users searched a contact. Now users will see only one contact.
  • Fixed “0+” indicator, which was shown after users answered a 1:1 audio/video call.
  • Fixed contact status, which did not update when users changed from “Away” to “Off Work.”
  • Fixed numerous crash issues related to Group Video Calling (GVC).
  • Fixed numerous issues related to accessibility.
  • Fixed an issue where Microsoft Auto Update channels were being overwritten by the client.
  • Implemented improvements to CPU performance when viewing shared screens over Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP).
  • Fixed an issue where contact group expanded/collapsed state would go out of sync.
  • Implemented numerous UI improvements.

Thanks

Iain Smith

 

MSUC.chat Open Mic Usergroup – Ask anything UC related – Happening 16th December 4.30pm GMT

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msuclogo

Hello and welcome to a new online user group adventure / experiment… an regular Monthly “open mic” SfB  meeting where anyone around the world can drop in, chat, ask questions etc. IM luckers and video chatters equally welcome!””

Why do we think this is a good idea.?

There are many people either end user or technical or even vendors who might have a burning question or issue that they want to ask or resolve. I’m sure like most of the people reading this blog post, the first port of call would be a google search. The problem with this is google is full of ….. well 90% of rubbish and false information, and in truth you spend most of your time spinning your wheels looking for the exact solution or closest matched issue. Well this is were MSUC.chat comes in. Myself, Josh Blacock <@getcsjosh>, Ben Lee and Tom Arbuthnot <@tomtalks> have come together to provide that question/issue burning ‘one stop shop’ to get the real answer you might be looking for.

Our view is people will drop in, drop out, ask a question or two or just listen? in truth we are just happy to get an audience and a few questions to talk through.

The first inaugural MSUC.chat event will happen on Friday 16th December at 4.30pm GMT.

As Tom has put on his blog plug for the event,

‘Wouldn’t it be great if there was a group of people who all worked, lived and breathed this stuff (mostly) 24/7 on hand who could provide immediate feedback on ideas, concerns, queries or anything else to do with SfB? Well that’s what we are hoping to be able to achieve here.

If your free we would really like to see a good participation and some fluid conversations about UC, to register goto HERE its free. Once registered we will send you the Skype Conference URL to attend.

ALSO, if you cant make this one, be sure to put your name on the mailing list as we will drop you an mail about the future coming events.

See you online tomorrow

Regards

Iain Smith

UPDATE – Emergency Dialling within Skype for Mac. It is possible with some dial plan tweaks.

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Good Morning All

Following the last couple of days at the future decoded event in the UK, We (Tobie Fysh of Modality Systems @tobiefysh www.tobiefysh.co.uk) had time to look at this 3 digit dialling issue *Emergency/non-Emergency number ranges* I see within the Skype for Mac client.

I can confirm with some slight tweaks to dial plans, I can now ring the necessary numbers from SFM. Please note: however ringing numeric XXX or +XXX does not resolve or connect via our SIP trunk used in Modality Systems.

My workaround dial plan rule now in place (Kudos to Tobie Fysh )… If I call the emergency number in SFM, there is a dial plan normalisation rule, which prefixes the number with the UK e164 code of +44 meaning the dialled number becomes +44999. At this point SFM is ok and the SIP trunk provider accepts the call.

It’s a slightly odd workaround but it works.

Skype for Mac GA release – Emergency dialling (US 911, UK 999, France 112) in fact any 3 numeric dialling issue

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Good Morning

Following on from my previous awareness post about some of the gotchas with the new new Skype for mac client in regards to last weeks release, i saw rumours coming out of the US that 911 calling was restricted/work.

Well i can confirm that is the case and calling from the new Skype mac client fails (actually, it doesn’t try to ring). well this got me thinking of other countries including the UK emergency calling.

I can confirm that dialling the UK 999 number OR 112 France OR 911 US OR any other 3 digit number won’t normalise and ring within the Skype for Mac client.

Slight oversight from Microsoft but I’ve reported it back to product group.

Skype for Mac GA – 7 ‘Other’ Known Issues not mentioned

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Good Evening All.

For the past 5 months I’ve been fortunate enough to be one of a few people/companies to test the in-flight builds of Skype for Mac. For the People who may be aware this used to be called TAP as in part of the ‘TAP’ program. These days its called the sprint program and like I say, myself and Modality Systems (the company I work for) are part of Sprint around various new and exciting elements of the Skype program. **there is lots coming down the line I promise 🙂

Anyway back to Skype for Mac. Today, Microsoft announced the release of the GA build .3638 of the Skype for Mac client. Also they also created a page of known issues with the GA build or rather issues that have been present in the builds for a long time while I’ve been testing/using. The list of public known issues is HERE

So why have I produced this blog post.? Well.. the list of public known issues isn’t the full story of issues.. yes there are more, so what I wanted to do was provide awareness and guidance around them. So in no particular order..

1, P2P desktop sharing still not available

Yes, desktop sharing today in the client isn’t available and will become a pain in the backside for you. Also to confirm this is both a two way issue as in if the other peer user tries to desktop share to you, that won’t work either.

Workaround is… bridge in a third person to your original P2P call and make it into a conference. In this scenario desktop sharing works.

2, Message from other IM users to you.? ‘Unable to send Instant Message’

For the past 5 months this issue has drove me to distraction, and has been reported many many many times to Microsoft product group but yet its still in the build including GA .3638. **note I’m running a newer build version to this .36xx and its still a bug in that as well. 

So what is the bug? Its hard to pinpoint to a actual sequence or task you are doing. A while back I thought it was linked to my Mac screensaver getting activated as I was always told from people who tried to IM me that the IM’s were getting bounced back AFTER say I’ve been for lunch or in a meeting i.e.: when the screensaver came on. However the issue is more wide spread than that and even in short periods of inactivity the same thing happens. At this moment what I do know is, if you actively using your Mac the bug won’t appear. However, if you leave your Mac for 10 mins the bug does appear. (its almost like the client looses connectivity to the server and therefore bounces IM’s back). NOTE: You still get the bounced messages as if there was never an issue, so you won’t know the person sending them is getting the undelivered message if they don’t tell you.

3, Skype for Mac is still a ring fenced entity within the office for mac suit. Other office products have no interaction with the client for things like click to dial etc

Not much to say about this apart from click to join, telephony numbers in word docs or sip names don’t automatically resolve and function within the Skype for Mac client.

4, Adding people to conferences from the Skype for Mac client, crashes the client

I think there is a slight underlaying bug again without good reason of activity or task, but what I still see from time to time is dragging a 3rd person into a P2P call or an existing conference will crash the client. **whats funny though, is the person you was dragging into the conference actually joins, but you get kicked out due to the crash of the Mac client.

5, No ability to mass delete IM conversations

Again not a big issue but certainly if your like me and have a gazillion IM’s going at once it is annoying that you can mass delete the IM history from the Mac client. It would be nice to ‘command A’ and delete all the IM’s in one fell swoop. Sadly you can’t.

ALSO, the ability to ‘command + del’ in rapid succession does not work either meaning you will have to select almost every IM thread before you can delete it from the IM window.

6, Headsets not certified yet (plantronics, Sennheiser and Jabra) randomly come off mute sporadically.

Headsets are a key part of the Skype for Business ecosystem, yet for all the ones I’ve used with the new Mac client (I would say 99% of certified endpoints) ALL suffer the same issue of when on mute in a conference call, the headset will whisper in your ear that you are no longer on mute. This can happen at random times, even when leaning back in your chair and not even touching the keyboard/Mac machine. What makes this bug even more of a challenge is that the Skype for Mac client onscreen visually has you still on mute.!! so the 64 million dollar question is. which ‘thing is right’ ?? the headset saying you OFF mute, OR the Skype for Mac client visually saying your still on mute.!! Arghh.. **to confirm the Skype for Mac client is always correct you do stay on mute even though sporadically the headset will tell you your not.

so the moral of this issue is, don’t believe everything you hear.. !

7,  Sound conflicts in calls when you get an outlook email through. **Makes the audible call appear robotic

Odd bug this one… You could be quite happy on a call of some type talking away, then you get a inbound email. What I have certainly found at this point is, my speech to the end user I’m talking to becomes robotic while I guess the sound notification from the email finishes. After this the audio in the Skype for Mac call becomes ok again, until the next email, then Robotic and so on……

The only workaround I’ve found is to turn of email notification sounds which then stops the interference with the Skype for Mac clients audio.


That’s all for now, I hope you have a great experience with the Mac client, and it is a good client, and will be even better over the next few updates.

Iain Smith

In-Place Upgrade from Lync 2013 running Windows Server 2008r2. Services failing to start

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Within this blog post is a issue that we’ve seen a couple of times along the way. However finding information on the issue is hard to come by hence this blog post.

So the scenario is.. the client is doing an in-place upgrade from lync 2013 to Skype for business 2015 running on windows 2008r2 OS. **Note: this issue has only been seen on 2008r2 OS..

The In-place upgrade to Skype for Business Server 2015 completed successfully, however when issuing “Start-CsWindowsService” or “Start-CsPool” the Skype for Business Front End Service failed to start with the following error:

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it was also noticed that the windows fabric service was also failing to start.
I continued to troubleshooting the following areas:

1. Certificates – Checked for untrusted root certificates using the following PS commandlet:
Get-Childitem cert:\LocalMachine\root -Recurse | Where-Object {$_.Issuer -ne $_.Subject} | Format-List * | Out-File “c:\computer_filtered.txt”
2. Reset Pool Quorum using the following PS commandlet:
Reset-CsPoolRegistrarState –PoolFqdn POOLNAME –ResetType QuorumLossRecovery
3. Ran Install-CsDatabase PS commandlet to ensure backend DB’s was in sync with front end servers – Install-CsDatabase –Update –LocalDatabases
4. Rebooted FE
5. Re-ran bootstrapper.exe (Step2 from the deployment wizard)
6. Confirmed SQL DB’s across all three instances (RTC, RTCLOCAL & LYNCLOCAL) was accessible and online

None of the above helped, the RtcSrv service still failed to start.

After further investigation it would appear the Windows Firewall Service had been disabled. I set the service back to its default setting of “Automatic” and started the service.

Would you believe it, all Skype for Business Server 2015 services would now start!!!