Microsoft Lync Server 2010 : Microsoft Communicator Client for Macintosh - Client Integrations with Other Applications

10/12/2013 7:31:13 PM

1. Client Integrations with Other Applications

As is typical with many Microsoft back office applications, one of its key value propositions is its integration with other Microsoft applications. Microsoft always touts its concept of “better together” when selling its products and Lync Server 2010 is no different. After the client is installed, there are hooks into several other Microsoft applications, which are discussed in the following sections.

Integration with Outlook

One of the strongest areas of integration for the Communicator client is with Outlook. When the Communicator client is installed, it adds hooks into the Outlook view that integrate into contact information. For example, when an e-mail is received in Outlook, you can immediately see Presence information for any Lync Server users that are listed in any of the To, CC, or From fields. This immediately tells the recipient whether these people are available. By placing the mouse over a name with Presence information, you receive information about the users and are presented an interface that contains many of the Communicator buttons, as shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1. Viewing Extended Options

Visible in the initial pop-up is the display name of the user, the current status, calendar information, and the status message. The available options include the following:

  • Send mail

  • Send an instant message

  • Call contact

  • Start a video call

  • Schedule a meeting

  • Open Outlook contact

  • Add contact to instant messenger contact list

Focusing on the options that are specific to the Communicator client integration, clicking Send an instant message spawns the typical IM window from within Communicator. Sending an IM results in the contact getting a pop-up that the other person is requesting an IM conversation. This pop-up can be either responded to or ignored. This process is effectively identical to finding the contact in the Communicator client and launching an IM conversation, but with the added convenience of having done it directly from Outlook. In this manner, you get additional choices in terms of how you will interact with another user. Rather than being forced to reply to an e-mail through e-mail, you can choose to communicate through instant messages.

Clicking Call contact results in the contact getting a pop-up that the other person is requesting an audio call. Accepting the call connects the two users through an audio conference that is hosted by Lync Server. This is a useful option to avoid a lengthy e-mail reply or if a conversation is of a sensitive nature and shouldn’t be stored in e-mail.

Clicking Start a video call results in the contact getting a pop-up that the other person is requesting a video connection. Assuming the user has a camera, she is able to join a video call with the other person. As with any video call, the person who receives the call needs to start the video if she has a camera and wants the other person to see her. Similarly, video calls include audio so that the two are able to easily communicate with each other.

Clicking Add contact to instant messenger contact list adds contacts that don’t yet exist in the Communicator contact list. Using this interface effectively invokes the normal interface for adding contacts, but it prepopulates the e-mail address of the contact you want to add. Just click Next and Finish to add the user. Optionally, you can type a message to personalize the invitation.

The Communicator client also accesses your calendar if you are hosted on Exchange. From this connection, it is able to see calendar availability and can automatically change your status based on the calendar. For example, if you are in a meeting, your status automatically changes to Busy (In a meeting).

Integration with Office

Communicator offers some integration with Microsoft Office that can make it easier to collaborate with other users. For example, in the Review tab in Microsoft Word, you can choose to share a document through an instant message. This offers contacts from Communicator or enables the user to choose Other. Clicking Other gives access to the full contact list from Communicator or enables you to type an e-mail address to which to send the document. Selecting an IM contact invites the contact to a conversation and offers the contact a file transfer with the document in it. This is a quick and handy way to have a coworker perform a document review for you. Somewhat oddly, Excel 2011 and PowerPoint 2011 don’t offer the IM option in review.

2. Tuning Hardware for Communicator Client

The Communicator client for Macintosh enables users to communicate with each other through both audio and video. As such, it’s a good idea to tune the audio and video subsystems of the Macintosh that is running the client in order to optimize the experience for the user.

For those that might not be familiar with the Macintosh operating system, items such as audio and video are managed through System Preferences. This can be accessed either through the Dock (the icons displayed on the bottom of the screen) or by clicking the Apple logo at the top left corner of the screen and choosing System Preferences. When looking for System Preferences in the Dock, look for a grey square with a large gear and two smaller gears.

Tuning the Display

The System Preferences interface is broken up into five rows including Personal, Hardware, Internet & Wireless, System, and Other. Clicking the Displays icon, located in the Hardware row, opens a new menu. From this menu, you can select screen resolutions. In general, for the best visual results, pick the native resolution of the screen. This is especially important when using an LCD or liquid crystal display. Although displays can generally run in multiple resolutions, they are optimized for one particular resolution. As Wikipedia describes it, “While CRT monitors can usually display images at various resolutions, an LCD monitor has to rely on interpolation (scaling of the image), which causes a loss of image quality. An LCD has to scale up a smaller image to fit into the area of the native resolution. This is the same principle as taking a smaller image in an image editing program and enlarging it; the smaller image loses its sharpness when it is expanded.” Thus when using an external LCD or the built-in LCD display on a Macintosh laptop, it is important to ensure that it’s running at its native resolution. Typically, a monitor can inform a computer of its native resolution through extended display identification data (EDID). If a monitor doesn’t support this standard, search online for the native resolution. If it can’t be found, experiment with various resolutions. Generally, it is obvious when you select the native resolution because the text will look crisper.

Another feature that is available on the Macintosh laptops is support for automatically adjusting brightness as ambient light changes. This enables the laptop screen to adjust to the conditions of the room and is helpful when users move their laptop back and forth between well-lit and poorly lit locations.

Clicking the Color button offers additional options for managing the display profiles. Picking a profile that matches the output monitor can result in a more accurate representation of colors, which means people will look more natural when in a video call.

Tuning the Audio

In the Hardware row of the System Preferences page is an icon for sound. Clicking this icon opens a screen with three tabs, which include Sound Effects, Output, and Input. Sound effects are used by various notifications within the Communicator client and their relative volume can be managed here.

Clicking the Output tab enables you to control overall volume of the output and gives you control over basic audio features such as left/right balance.

Clicking Input enables you to modify the sensitivity of the microphone. This is probably the most critical step in optimizing the experience in audio calls. If the microphone is too sensitive, it can clip or send a distorted signal. If sensitivity is too low, other users will have a difficult time hearing the person speaking into the microphone. One excellent feature offered on the Macintosh is native noise reduction. By checking the box labeled Use ambient noise reduction, there will be less distracting background noise sent over the microphone and this will benefit anyone in the audio conference.

3. Troubleshooting

The Communicator client is stable and easy to configure, but there are a few things that might go wrong in a large deployment.

  • If the client doesn’t connect, try setting the client to a manual configuration and list the pool name. If this results in the client connecting, your service records in DNS are not configured properly.

  • If a manual connection still doesn’t work, try pinging the pool name. If it fails to resolve, there might be an issue with DNS. Try pinging the DNS server as well; it’s possible you’re having other network issues.

  • If you’re getting audio feedback when conferencing, your sound card might not support noise cancelation. Having a good sound card results in a better overall experience. Another possible fix is to run the configuration utilities for your sound card. This enables you to correctly set levels for the speakers and the microphone. This can prevent clipping of the signal that can result in a distorted voice.

  • If you aren’t getting presence information or if the client complains about Outlook integration, it’s possible that you activated an account for Lync Server 2010 and created a SIP name for the user that doesn’t match the e-mail address. These need to match for everything to work perfectly.

  • If you are using certificates from your own CA and external users are having issues connecting, they might not trust your root CA. The public certificate from the Root CA needs to be imported into the Trusted Root store in Keychain. If external systems trust the Root CA but aren’t able to reach the Certificate Revocation List for the CA, they will fail to connect.

  • If you are having problems connecting through the Silverlight client, double-check the security zone settings. If you aren’t able to run JavaScript or if pop-ups are blocked, you will have problems connecting.

  • If you’re having issues with the Lync client, check the Application event log.

An excellent way to check on network connection to Lync Server 2010 is the netstat command. If a connection on TCP 5061 is in a Syn_sent state, it means the Lync Server is unavailable. If the connection is sitting at Time_Wait, odds are the application is having issues. It means that the connection was acknowledged, but that the application isn’t sending data.

  •  Microsoft Lync Server 2010 : Microsoft Communicator Client for Macintosh - Web Conferencing
  •  Microsoft Lync Server 2010 : Microsoft Communicator Client for Macintosh - Audio/Video Calls and Conferencing
  •  Microsoft Lync Server 2010 : Microsoft Communicator Client for Macintosh - IM Features
  •  Microsoft Lync Server 2010 : Microsoft Communicator Client for Macintosh - Getting Around in the Client
  •  Microsoft Lync Server 2010 : Microsoft Communicator Client for Macintosh - Installing the Client
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