I currently run a MacBook Pro for my daily driver, it’s the ‘spice of life’ I say! A MacBook Pro, a Google Pixel phone and the Microsoft Office 365 collaboration suite is what makes up my toolset. Now more then ever collaboration and data is becoming more accessible via a device flavour that you prefer. Running Mac OSX while working with the Microsoft stack presents two issues I’ve had to endure to this point as an end user and adminstrator:
- I want to leverage the full capability of Kloud’s Skype for Business platform while in OSX
- I want to execute PowerShell CLI natively in OSX
I’ve marked October 26th in my calendar as the day where I get to put a line through one of my wish list items. Skype for Business Mac client has become generally available and free to download here. I noticed while I can download the client from Microsoft.com, I’m yet to have it available to me in the Office 365 portal where I’m still offered my very old friend Lync 2011 to install.
This software isn’t all that new to me personally, I’ve been on versions of the preview client for a while now with mixed emotions. That being said, that’s what a preview program is all about! For those wondering what you will get with this first release (18.104.22.16838) here is a closer look.
The installation package will ask you to shutdown Safari and once you have hit ‘next‘ or ‘continue‘ the correct amount of times you will be presented with the login splash screen.
Once you have logged in successfully with your credentials you will receive the ‘run-once‘ welcome wizard. Which probably gives away most of the capability you will have so I won’t double up.
It’s not my intention to turn this into one of those ‘unboxing videos‘ you see on youtube, but here are some key features that I feel you will need to know about since either using the preview or being a first time consumer of Skype for Business on Mac.
All the normal and expected features are here:
- Instant Message
- Tabbed Conversations
- Audio Call
- Video Call
- Multi-Party Instant Message, Audio and Video
- Share Desktops
- Join Meetings
- Dial PSTN Numbers
- Receive PSTN Calls
- Listen to Voicemails
- View conversation, IM and call history
Preview to General Availability
Voice users, you get the very important advanced calling options in preferences which wasn’t in the preview. This includes:
- Call Forwarding Behaviour
- Dialin Conferencing Pin/Settings Link
- Voicemail Greeting Option
A dial pad and/or a field to paste a number prior to dialling in the GUI was missing, not any more:
When you click to join a Skype for Business meeting from a URL in a calendar item you will be prompted to trust the ‘Skype for Business Meeting Join Plug-in‘ allowing native meeting join into the Skype for Business application from a Hyperlink:
What things are missing? And,….will I really need them?
I’ll let you be the judge if these are things that you just can’t live without. Here’s a few notable mentions I can see:
- Team Call / Delegates options (was available in Lync 2011)
- Audio Test Call Service
- Ability to share desktop while in 1-1 window (was available in Lync 2011)
- Workaround: You must ‘Meet Now’ and invite the user, desktop share is then available
- Ability to send files in 1-1 or meeting windows (was available in Lync 2011)
- Unanswered call delay and procedure options (Call timer and forward)
- Meeting Recording settings
At the end of the day if its stable, its a win. The preview was problematic for me, with breaks in network connection and re-connection being my main issue. Microsoft have advised that there is server cumulative updates to install to the backend for best compatibility which could aid experience. From a client perspective they advise that you uninstall all previous clients (Lync 2011 or Skype for Business Preview). All these ‘need to know‘ fine print can be found in the ‘Details‘ section of the client download.