Microsoft Lync Server 2010 : Microsoft Communicator Client for Macintosh - Web Conferencing

10/12/2013 7:29:32 PM

Probably the biggest driving force behind companies implementing Lync Server 2010 is replacing outsourced web conferencing services. Many companies spend tens of thousands of dollars a month on services such as Webex or GoToMeeting. Although there might be situations where a company running Lync Server 2010 needs to create a conference so large that its infrastructure isn’t sufficient, the other 95% of the time it can use a platform it owns rather than paying an external company for the services. In many environments, OCS 2007 R2 implementations paid for themselves in 6 to 12 months for this reason. Lync Server 2010 looks to offer similar return on investment for companies in need of web conferencing.

Web conferences are not supported on the Macintosh Communicator client. There is no option to create one and trying to invite a contact using the Macintosh Communicator client through a PC client results in a notification that “Sharing is not supported with this contact.” The only way to get into a web conference from a Macintosh is from the Silverlight client.


Be aware that having multiple participants of the same conference in the same room can result in a fair amount of feedback through the clients. The client will actually detect this and recommend that one or more participants mute the microphone. In a video conference with more than two participants, the view switches to whoever is the active speaker.

Joining a Conference

Most invitations to a web conference arrive through e-mail. This is to say that in most corporate environments, invites to web conferences are part of an Exchange meeting invite. It appears as a web link inside the meeting invite, as shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1. Viewing a Meeting URL

Clicking the web link results in the default web browser launching. If pop-up blockers are turned on, the Lync Server warns the user. He can opt to either disable the pop-up blocker for this site and refresh or he can click a link to “Join with pop-up blocker turned on” although that might interfere with screen sharing. It is recommended to disable the pop-up blocker and refresh the connection.


In Safari, the pop-up blocker can be disabled by clicking Safari at the top context menu and unchecking Block Pop-Up Windows.

With the pop-up blocker disabled, the main web page notifies the user that the meeting has started in a separate browser window and that the main window can be closed. Meanwhile, a second window pops up and is identified as the Lync Web App, as shown in Figure 2.

Figure 2. Launching the Web App

The Lync Web App window offers the user two options:

  • Join as a guest

  • Join using your corporate credentials


If connecting to an internal web conference, join using the corporate credentials. This authenticates the identity and generally gives more freedom to participate in the web conference.

When a meeting is organized, the organizer can choose which participants can join automatically and which participants can request to share information or request to control a session. Typically these rights are not given out to guest users. Similarly, guest users are typically placed into a lobby before they are added to the meeting by the organizer.

The Lync Web App window enables you to choose the preferred language in the Language drop-down. Similarly, you can click the gear in the upper-right corner to access the following two options:

  • Forget me on this computer

  • Enable logging

Checking the box to Forget me on this computer ensures that all personal information entered from the current session is cleared when the user signs out. Enabling logging enables you to choose a location for saving support logs that can be used by Lync support to help troubleshoot any issues that might arise during the conference.

Choosing Join as a guest prompts the user to pick a display name. This name can be anything and shouldn’t be considered a valid form of identification for a guest user. This is to say that a guest user isn’t prevented from using names that might be valid within the organization, so always keep that in mind when allowing guests to join a meeting. Users are offered an option to Remember me on this computer, which results in the display name being persistent should they join future meetings as a guest. Clicking the Join Meeting button connects to the meeting. Users receive a notification that they have successfully joined the meeting.

In the meeting, the user has the ability to share a whiteboard and can show the Stage. The stage is the area that shows shared items. If the organizer of the meeting shares a whiteboard, the state automatically appears on the Silverlight client for the Macintosh user who connected to the meeting. Alternatively, the Macintosh Silverlight client user can share a whiteboard, if allowed by meeting options, and it appears for other users. Unfortunately the Macintosh Silverlight client cannot view a shared application, only a shared whiteboard. This is a different behavior than the Windows-based Silverlight client because the additional plug-in for application sharing doesn’t yet exist for the Macintosh.

Should one choose to Join using your corporate credentials, the client prompts for the domain\user name for logon as well as the password. Entering these and clicking Join Meeting connects the user to the meeting as an authenticated user. This means that the identity can be trusted and that the user will be considered “People from the organizer’s company” when applying Meeting Access rights or Presenter rights.

Sharing Information in a Meeting

Due to the limitations within the Macintosh Silverlight Client for Lync Server, the only type of sharing that it can participate in is whiteboard sharing. You can click Share and then New Whiteboard to create a new whiteboard. If one has been previously used and the Stage is shown, you can use the drop-down menu called Content List in the upper right to select a previously populated whiteboard. This is especially useful if a meeting is broken up into several parts and participants want to quickly pick up where they left off. The whiteboard interface includes the following buttons:

  • Laser Pointer

  • Select and Type

  • Line

  • Color

  • Pen

  • Arrow Stamp

  • Insert Image

  • Additional Tools

  • Save with Annotations

  • Full Screen

The Laser Pointer function enables the person who currently controls the meeting to create and move a pointer. By clicking in the whiteboard and moving the pointer around with the mouse or a touch pen, you can point to objects in the whiteboard while speaking to call attention to them. This is meant to mimic the use of a traditional laser pointer in a presentation where you can point to an object to call attention to it.

The option of Select and Type, which includes a submenu for font and font size, enables the user to create a text box and type text into it. This is meant to mimic the most common use of a physical whiteboard, which is to write notes onto it.

The Line button enables the user to create lines, arrows, ovals, and rectangles. These are often used to either enclose information on a whiteboard or can serve as the basis for basic sketches or diagrams within a conference session. For the creation of shapes, select a shape, click into the whiteboard, drag the mouse to the end of the shape, and release it.

The Color button enables you to alter the color of objects. For example, you can make a line in the default black and then decide to change the color for subsequent lines to show that they are different things. This mimics the multiple colors of whiteboard pens often used when whiteboarding.

The Pen enables you to draw freehand with the mouse. Clicking into the submenu of Pen, you can select different colors of pens or define the pen as a highlighter. Using a highlighter pen results in not overwriting existing lines. This can be helpful when calling attention to text because it won’t obscure the original text.

The Arrow Stamp button, which also enables you to choose a Check stamp or an X stamp, enables you to place an arrow onto the whiteboard. The easiest way is to click into the whiteboard, drag the mouse to where you want to place the object, and then release the mouse.

The Insert Image button enables you to search the system for image files to paste into the whiteboard.

The Additional Tools button includes the typical undo/redo functions, allows for cut/copy/paste functionality, and enables you to delete selected annotations or all annotations.

The Save with Annotations button enables the user to save the whiteboard as a Portable Network Graphics (PNG) image. You are prompted to choose a location to save the image.

The Full Screen button expands the whiteboard to fill the entire screen. During this full-screen mode, you are not able to see the normal interface for Lync, text that is typed into the conversation pane, nor the status change for other participants. To exit full-screen mode, either click the left bar’s arrow labeled Show Conversation or press the escape key (ESC).

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