New Microsoft Lync 2013 Server Features
The Lync 2013 preview has been released and as an avid user and a presenter at SWC’s Events for Microsoft Unified Communications, I wanted to highlight some of the new features we can look forward to. If you’re not as familiar with Microsoft Lync as you’d like to be, I’d like to invite you to one of our free webinars or luncheons, please keep an eye on the SWC Events page to register! For this post, most of the changes I will be discussing will be visible from the client level, stay tuned for the next one as we dive into other server enhancements that reduce the need for resources and enhance enterprise voice. As we move forward we’ll dive into each of these new features and more in more detail to show you how they work and how they can help your business. We’ll also keep you up to date as new announcements are made.
The Lync 2013 Client features the same ease of use as always, but comes with loads of new features. One of the first things you’ll notice is the tabbed conversations feature. You can navigate through all of your conversations in a single window; however you have to option to dock and undock these conversations as well, which can be handy during meetings with content you may want to maximize.
Lync 2013 now also includes the persistent chat feature right in the main client where users can keep conversations going even as they enter and leave. These chat rooms keep a history of the chat that you can come back to at any time. Notifications can easily be configured to alert you if someone writes new content in a room, or to alert you if specific keywords or your name is mentioned.
Unified Contact Store
With Exchange Server 2013 all of a user’s contacts can be merged into their Exchange mailbox. We can now manage their contacts not only from Lync, but from Outlook and Outlook Web App. This gives us the ability to have a single consolidated contact store for email, instant messaging, conferencing, desk phones, and mobile phones.
Native Skype and XMPP (Google Talk) Federation
You’ve all heard that Microsoft has acquired Skype, and with Lync 2013 federation with Skype is available out of the box. You can now communicate through Microsoft Lync with the hundreds of millions of worldwide users already using Skype! Further, Microsoft has removed the need for a gateway and it’s restrictions to communicate with XMPP systems. Lync 2013 can now natively chat with networks using the XMPP protocol including Google Talk!
Conferencing has received a lot of attention in this iteration of Lync. Have you ever tried to share a PowerPoint deck or sales presentation through a video conference? Most of the time, end user see a low-resolution, barely legible image, or are unable to access it on their mobile devices. Lync 2013’s Office Web Apps Server now provides better PowerPoint capabilities at a higher-resolution across a greater array of mobile devices, including the Android, iPhone and Windows Phone. Additionally, all shared documents are now archived through Exchange 2013. How many times have you misplaced a document or had someone ask you to resend a presentation you gave months ago? Archived documents on Exchange can be quickly and easily searched, found and sent. Video has received its share of enhancements as well, including support for 1080p for those full room conferences. Audio and video can be split up now so you can use the webcam connected to your PC, while joining the audio portion of the conference with your desk or mobile phone. Perhaps the most noticeable feature is the new control over the video feeds; you have the ability to select gallery view where you can see up to five video streams at once, you can also lock video feeds so that they can be seen even when not talking. And while there are many new conferencing enhancements we’ll discuss in upcoming articles, I couldn’t miss the new Lync Web App. This client has greatly improved over the previous version allowing Windows and Mac users without a Lync client to join conferences and get the full experience including HD video, audio, instant messaging, desktop, application and presentation sharing.
SWC and our clients are very excited about the new wave of Unified Communications products. Keep us bookmarked to stay informed!