I’ve had conversations with customers lately whom are looking to use Lync Server 2013 and currently don’t want to move their desktop SOE to Office 2013 suite with Lync 2013 Client. This can be a project in itself and one that IT Admins aren’t always prepared to look at. Whether this is because of the analysis needed to roll out the suite or they still are in an agreement that only allows them to Office 2010. Standing up a Lync Server 2013 environment and then rolling out the Lync 2010 client just makes me feel sad for all the end users, as they look at their ‘new‘ client which too many others around the world would look like the ‘old‘ client that we were happy to uninstall a few years ago.
Some IT Admins may have the approach
“I’m not an enterprise voice user and I don’t know the adoption of Lync Meetings yet. So I’m just expecting my users to use IM/P and potentially ‘some‘ video. Who cares what client I use”
Well in some context this statement is right, but with the wrong approach. The new Lync client isn’t just white in colour and offer a minimalistic design, it also adds a lot of additional functionality that is key to the user experience with 2013 backend servers pulling the strings. I think the general miss conception is that the server should provide all the grunt and the client should just be the shell to display the media stream. Well that isn’t entirely true, the Lync Server 2013 AVMCU does control rate matching and upscaling of video streams in a much better way on server 2013, but without the updated client endpoints, a 2010 client with none optimized video codec will never get the optimal stream it deserves like a 720p/1080p@30fps resolution for P2P or Lync Meeting video even if the client/network permits. A Lync 2010 client alongside a Lync 2013 client with same hardware and OS would present a VGA@15fps media stream to the user, while the Lync 2013 client could do the full 1080p@30fps. Also the conference/meeting experience will be hampered for the individual with only smaller selection of meeting modalities on offer at the lesser resolution. So in short, it will do less with only a single participant stream and in lesser quality on same hardware and OS (ouch).
“So how do I take advantage of these features without worrying about my Office Suite licensing? I don’t want to go back to my license rep and fight with them over how I get to 2013 from my current arrangement just to get Lync rolled out to my end users”.
The answer is the Lync 2013 Basic Client which offers a lot of feature sets minus some enterprise voice goodies, oh and by the way it’s FREE! I repeat again….FREE. Free in the terms of it’s a public Microsoft Download “Drive away no more to pay”.
Let’s look at the Basic Client in a line up against my current Office 2013 O365 Pro Plus client with my E3 subscription which entitles me to run the Office 2013 suite.
I’m seeing double….or close enough.
As I was halfway through writing this blog, Microsoft released an update allowing some nice additional features for the Basic Client that puts it on par with the full client for conferencing/meeting experience. Now your meetings on the basic client can support a full range of experiences with the big inclusion of multi-party video gallery.
- Users can record a conversation from the … menu in a conversation window.
- Users can use the gallery view to see all users’ video instead of only the active speaker’s in a video conversation that has more than two people.
- Users can switch mode between gallery and speaker.
These are some missing parts to the puzzle for the Basic Client that previously had it a clear step behind its bigger brother for feature parity.
If you’re looking at rolling out a Lync 2013 PoC to a user base to see if it is going to be adopted positively in your organisation, I recommend using the Lync 2013 Basic Client to meet your needs over the Lync Office 2010 client ever day of the week. It will far exceed the 2010 client for standard client access and user adoption will be positive. If you knew that you could buy the car with the ‘options pack‘ at no extra cost, I’d take it!
So what would your clients look like if you only had purchased Lync Server 2013 backend with no Office 2013 suite?
- Desktop – Lync 2013 Basic Client (Free)
- Tablet/Win8 App – Lync App from Store (Free)
- Mobile – iOS, Android, Windows Phone from Stores (Free)
Comparison between 2013 clients here