Michael Finneran
Michael F. Finneran, is President of dBrn Associates, Inc., a full service advisory firm specializing in wireless and mobility; services...
Read Full Bio >>

Michael Finneran | December 24, 2014 |


What I Want For Christmas: Lync That Works on a Mac

What I Want For Christmas: Lync That Works on a Mac While I love Lync (or "Skype For Business"), I'm amazed by how badly Microsoft supports the Mac population.

While I love Lync (or "Skype For Business"), I'm amazed by how badly Microsoft supports the Mac population.

I've now been using Lync on Office 365 on my two Macs for about a year, and while I love Lync (or "Skype For Business"), I'm amazed by how badly Microsoft supports the Mac population. Sure OS X only has about 5% of the desktop/laptop market to Microsoft's 60+%, but that is still a sizable chunk of users, none of whom are likely to abandon the platform in favor of any version of Windows anytime soon. Some of the difficulties are just endemic instability, but much of my reaction stems from essential functions that don't work well or flat out don't exist in the Lync Mac client.

Just to get the facts straight, both of my Macs are on the latest version of OS X (10.10.1) and I install every Lync update the moment it's released (currently 14.0.10). The first thing you notice is that the Lync client for Mac is ridiculously unstable (it crashes more often than any other application I've ever run, sometimes multiple times in a day). Its most persistent problem is waking up. Lync will automatically log me out any time my computer goes to sleep. When I wake it up, it doesn't log me back in, I have to click the "Sign-in" button.

Its newest annoyance is that Lync then "forgets" how to talk to Outlook. Even though my password is stored with the Lync client, on waking up the client will usually pop a window asking me to enter my long and challenging password so that it can access my Outlook calendar; I have to do this about 10 times a day. Of course I have to say "usually", because nothing happens with any consistency where Lync is concerned. Usually this works, but about 25% of the time, entering the correct password causes the Lync client to crash. If I quit Lync and reopen it, it talks to Outlook just fine.

A lot of the functionality problems stem from the fact that there is still no Lync plug-in for the Mac version of Outlook (of course, Outlook for Mac isn't too hot either)--that starts a downward spiral that just doesn't stop. With no plug-in, you can't start Lync text, voice, video or screen sharing sessions out of Outlook, you have to use the Lync client. Trouble is, the Lync client can't "see" the Outlook contacts; the Lync client has a search window, but it only searches Lync contacts. Further, you can't just drag & drop Outlook contacts into Lync, you have to retype or copy & paste them.

Probably the worst outcome of not having an Outlook plugin is that a Mac user can't schedule a meeting! Obviously with no Lync plugin you can't do it from Outlook, and when you right-click a contact in the Lync client and scroll down to "Schedule a Meeting" nothing happens--dead end! The other right-click actions (Send an IM, Call, Start a Video Call, Share Desktop, Send a File, Send an Email) all work, but not the one that's at the heart of collaboration. Being able to send a meeting invite with all of the login stuff automatically populated is one of the best features in Lync. I can't send an invite, period!

One function that simply blows my mind is when you can't answer an incoming Lync voice call unless you select Microsoft Lync as the default telephone service in the Lync Preferences. This is particularly infuriating, because you get a ringing alert, but it doesn't pop a window with a button to answer the call. Hopefully you know who's calling so you can call them back.

This particular mess might be the result of a one-choice function that governs what the Mac will use to make phone calls. With iOS 8.1.1 and Yosemite on the Mac, you can tether your iPhone to the Mac and allow the Mac to place phone calls with Facetime and send/receive SMS messages using the Message app. I've written about that tethering capability before, though in reality it's not a very effective union. Of course, Lync on Office 365 can't make regular phone calls, so you have to turn off the Apple's crummy voice capability to answer Lync calls on the one that has no PSTN voice capability at all!

Interestingly, the iOS client for Lync isn't too bad, but it has quirks of its own. As with the Mac client, you still can't schedule a meeting. It has tabs that let you see your iPhone contacts as well as your Lync contacts, but there are limits to what you can do with them. If you tap a phone number to call an iPhone contact, it looks like it's going to call, but then gives you a message that says, "You can't call X because calls are restricted by policy"; I guess that's Microsoft reminding me that they can't make regular phone calls. So why not just let the iPhone make a regular cellular call?

Tapping the email icon launches the iPhone's email app, and selecting "Send a Text Message," followed by a mobile number, will launch the Messages app. Working through the Lync contacts works pretty much like the Mac client.

I don't know if this mess is the result of a lack of resources, some massive technical challenge, or some kind of vendetta Microsoft has against Apple, but having a UC&C that doesn't support basic functions is pretty pathetic. However, with BYOD, we are seeing more Macs, particularly laptops, popping up in the enterprise. Microsoft is pushing hard to grow Lync's share of the enterprise voice market, and hopefully the Office 365 version of Lync will get telephony capability early in 2015.

Lync is a great tool and head and shoulders above what a lot of the other UC&C purveyors are offering, but someone better light a fire under the Mac client team, or Microsoft will be in for some real pushback when other Mac users find out what they're in for.

Follow Michael Finneran on Twitter and Google+!
Michael Finneran on Google+


March 7, 2018

Video collaboration is experiencing significant change and innovation-how can your enterprise take advantage? In this webinar, leading industry analyst Ira Weinstein will present detailed analysis

February 21, 2018

Business agility has become the strongest driver for enterprises to begin migrating their communications to the cloud-and its a benefit that enterprises are already realizing. To gain this benefit

February 7, 2018

Enterprises are starting to grasp the critical importance of security and compliance in their team collaboration deployments. And once the risks are mitigated, your enterprise can integrate these n

March 12, 2018
An effective E-911 implementation doesn't just happen; it takes a solid strategy. Tune in for tips from IT expert Irwin Lazar, of Nemertes Research.
March 9, 2018
IT consultant Steve Leaden lays out the whys and how-tos of getting the green light for your convergence strategy.
March 7, 2018
In advance of his speech tech tutorial at EC18, communications analyst Jon Arnold explores what voice means in a post-PBX world.
February 28, 2018
Voice engagement isn't about a simple phone call any longer, but rather a conversational experience that crosses from one channel to the next, as Daniel Hong, a VP and research director with Forrester....
February 16, 2018
What trends and technologies should you be up on for your contact center? Sheila McGee-Smith, Contact Center & Customer Experience track chair for Enterprise Connect 2018, gives us the lowdown.
February 9, 2018
Melanie Turek, VP of connected work research at Frost & Sullivan, walks us through key components -- and sticking points -- of customer-oriented digital transformation projects.
February 2, 2018
UC consultant Marty Parker has crunched lots of numbers evaluating UC options; tune in for what he's learned and tips for your own analysis.
January 26, 2018
Don't miss out on the fun! Organizer Alan Quayle shares details of his pre-Enterprise Connect hackathon, TADHack-mini '18, showcasing programmable communications.
December 20, 2017
Kevin Kieller, partner with enableUC, provides advice on how to move forward with your Skype for Business and Teams deployments.
December 20, 2017
Zeus Kerravala, principal analyst with ZK Research, shares his perspective on artificial intelligence and the future of team collaboration.
December 20, 2017
Delanda Coleman, Microsoft senior marketing manager, explains the Teams vision and shares use case examples.
November 30, 2017
With a ruling on the FCC's proposed order to dismantle the Open Internet Order expected this month, communications technology attorney Martha Buyer walks us through what's at stake.
October 23, 2017
Wondering which Office 365 collaboration tool to use when? Get quick pointers from CBT Nuggets instructor Simona Millham.
September 22, 2017
In this podcast, we explore the future of work with Robert Brown, AVP of the Cognizant Center for the Future of Work, who helps us answer the question, "What do we do when machines do everything?"
September 8, 2017
Greg Collins, a technology analyst and strategist with Exact Ventures, delivers a status report on 5G implementation plans and tells enterprises why they shouldn't wait to move ahead on potential use ....
August 25, 2017
Find out what business considerations are driving the SIP trunking market today, and learn a bit about how satisfied enterprises are with their providers. We talk with John Malone, president of The Ea....
August 16, 2017
World Vision U.S. is finding lots of goodness in RingCentral's cloud communications service, but as Randy Boyd, infrastructure architect at the global humanitarian nonprofit, tells us, he and his team....
August 11, 2017
Alicia Gee, director of unified communications at Sutter Physician Services, oversees the technical team supporting a 1,000-agent contact center running on Genesys PureConnect. She catches us up on th....
August 4, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, has lately been working on integrating enterprise communications into Internet of Things ecosystems. He shares examples and off....
July 27, 2017
Industry watcher Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares her perspective on this acquisition, discussing Mitel's market positioning, why the move makes sense, and more.
July 14, 2017
Lantre Barr, founder and CEO of Blacc Spot Media, urges any enterprise that's been on the fence about integrating real-time communications into business workflows to jump off and get started. Tune and....
June 28, 2017
Communications expert Tsahi Levent-Levi, author of the popular blog, keeps a running tally and comprehensive overview of communications platform-as-a-service offerings in his "Choosing a W....
June 9, 2017
If you think telecom expense management applies to nothing more than business phone lines, think again. Hyoun Park, founder and principal investigator with technology advisory Amalgam Insights, tells ....
June 2, 2017
Enterprises strategizing on mobility today, including for internal collaboration, don't have the luxury of learning as they go. Tony Rizzo, enterprise mobility specialist with Blue Hill Research, expl....
May 24, 2017
Mark Winther, head of IDC's global telecom consulting practice, gives us his take on how CPaaS providers evolve beyond the basic building blocks and address maturing enterprise needs.
May 18, 2017
Diane Myers, senior research director at IHS Markit, walks us through her 2017 UC-as-a-service report... and shares what might be to come in 2018.
April 28, 2017
Change isn't easy, but it is necessary. Tune in for advice and perspective from Zeus Kerravala, co-author of a "Digital Transformation for Dummies" special edition.
April 20, 2017
Robin Gareiss, president of Nemertes Research, shares insight gleaned from the firm's 12th annual UCC Total Cost of Operations study.
March 23, 2017
Tim Banting, of Current Analysis, gives us a peek into what the next three years will bring in advance of his Enterprise Connect session exploring the question: Will there be a new model for enterpris....
March 15, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, discusses the evolving role of the all-important session border controller.
March 9, 2017
Organizer Alan Quayle gives us the lowdown on programmable communications and all you need to know about participating in this pre-Enterprise Connect hackathon.
March 3, 2017
From protecting against new vulnerabilities to keeping security assessments up to date, security consultant Mark Collier shares tips on how best to protect your UC systems.
February 24, 2017
UC analyst Blair Pleasant sorts through the myriad cloud architectural models underlying UCaaS and CCaaS offerings, and explains why knowing the differences matter.
February 17, 2017
From the most basics of basics to the hidden gotchas, UC consultant Melissa Swartz helps demystify the complex world of SIP trunking.
February 7, 2017
UC&C consultant Kevin Kieller, a partner at enableUC, shares pointers for making the right architectural choices for your Skype for Business deployment.
February 1, 2017
Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares a status report on the UCaaS market today and offers her perspective on what large enterprises need before committing to UC in the cloud.
January 26, 2017
Andrew Davis, co-founder of Wainhouse Research and chair of the Video track at Enterprise Connect 2017, sorts through the myriad cloud video service options and shares how to tell if your choice is en....
January 23, 2017
Sheila McGee-Smith, Contact Center/Customer Experience track chair for Enterprise Connect 2017, tells us what we need to know about the role cloud software is playing in contact centers today.