Thursday, 19 July 2012

Lync 2013 early impression

I'm sure you've read a a good few posts on Lync 2013 already. But I'll write about it anyway. I've been working with Lync 2010 for a couple of years now and for the most part I really like it. It has a way to go on enterprise voice with all of its missing features but the other features more than make up for it. There are, however, several features that customers keep asking for and I really wish Microsoft would do something about them. When I read all of he Technet and other "first impression" on Wednesday I read with anticipation, hoping to find that Microsoft had added the missing features on my hot list. Sadly, however, none other than one seem to have been addressed. 

From my perspective, these missing features are the customers' biggest complaints.   
1.       Hold Music - why can't we just have server based hold music for every call either using media player or with a simple MOH port like everyone else. I know they say it's coming in CU7, but they said the same thing about CU6.   2.       Call Pickup - No, I don't mean team call groups. I mean some mechanism, a short code even, to give the user the ability to pick up a ringing phone.   
3.       Call Recording - others have it and Microsoft could too. I know there are partner solutions but I hate bolt ons unless they are perfect.   
4.       Call Transfer - This should be really easy to do. All call transfers should be consult then transfer by default, but with the ability to just put the phone down to complete the transfer at any time. At the moment it is an absolute pain with Lync Phone edition. Requiring about 20 key presses. And communicator doesn't have this at all without making a new call and merging them together. Just awful!   
5.       Lync Phone Edition - just needs a redesign. Most things work well but many things are just too long winded. This is resulting in customers choosing to use other vendors PABX systems and either use Remote Call Control or Extension Mobility instead.   
6.       Attendant Console - The ability to use a phone would be good. I can't believe this is missing.   
7.       Response Group Out of Service - the ability for quick changes to response groups. IE Night Service or Out of service in the event of an evacuation. 

The only one hat seems to have been addressed is number 7. They've simply added in response group managers and response group administrators that used to be in OCS, but we're removed in Lync. It remains to be seen if it addresses it fully, but we'll see. 

I haven't installed Lync Server 2013 yet other than the administrative tools, just to see if the planning tool was included. It isn't. I had to install dot net 4.5 RC and powershell 3 beta on my windows 7 laptop just to install the admin tools. I'll have a play with the topology builder and the rest when I get a chance and I'll write about that in another post. 

I did, however, install Office 2013. Simply because Lync Communicator 2013 was included. I may write separately about Office 2013 preview another time.  

To my surprise, Lync 2013 allowed me to sign in to our Lync 2010 infrastructure without a problem. I was so excited I immediately started testing everything. I really like it. The look and feel is nice and simple with a Zune-like feel to it (the application, not the music player). I can see the touch inspired touches like the fact hat you hover over the photo or photo place holder and out pops some large icons for the various modality options. The client is nice and fast, not that the old one was slow. This just seems faster and better. I really love the tabbed conversations. It just works well. I know there was a systray application for 2010 to enable tabbed conversations, but this is built in and better. Another surprise was that Lync 2013 and Attendant 2010 will run side by side on the same pc. Not sure yet how that is a good thing, but given that Attendant doesn't work with Lync phone edition there might be something in that. The client isn't completely finished. There is a button for "conversation translator" but that doesn't work. Again that used to be an add on in 2010, but this seems to be included, albeit unfinished. The one thing they removed from Lync is the one thing I never used. Activity feed. I don't think anyone else will miss it either. One thing that I wanted was number 4 from my pain list and sadly that isn't there. Transferring has become even harder if you can believe it. Less intuitive and crap. Come on Microsoft! 

Well, I think I've said enough today. I'll write about the Lync Server 2013 features I'm most looking forward to in my next blog. For those that did, thank you for reading. Hope I didn't bore you too much.