Bridge Communications

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Hands on - Skype for Business Mac Client

Now that the Skype for Business Mac client is generally available and has had at least one update I figured I would give you my impression.  First let me be upfront, I am not a daily Mac user, I use it strictly for developing IOS applications because there is no workaround for it.  I am not a Mac hater, I just find the interface geared more toward a grandmother than a power user.

Skype for Business on the Mac

Having experimented with the Lync 2011 Mac client, I will say this new Skype for Business client is a giant step forward for Mac users.  It was hard for me to believe that any sane person could have authorized the release of the 2011 client as an enterprise ready application.  The new client has a much needed improvement to the interface, but it looks more like Microsoft Teams than the traditional Windows client.

You can now reliably send and receive messages, make audio and video calls, separating it from it's predecessor.  It doesn't quite have feature parity with it's Windows sibling, rather it is more inline with the IOS and Android versions, which makes sense giving they are all written using the UCWA libraries.  A good example is the chat window.

Chat Window

It's very easy to see the similarities between the Mac and Windows chat windows.  For the most part they are same with a couple exceptions.

1.  Add a file attachment
2.  Set high importance

Really the only one of these that matters to me is the file attachment.  More along that line if you try to paste a picture, which I use all the time, neither end of the mixed conversation is able to, you receive an error on the windows side, and the paste is grayed out on the Mac side.

The Mac client does have some interesting options for messaging but some of them seem to be "coming soon" like the ability to use speech as the keyboard.

The Conversation Window

The conversation for an audio / video call on each platform are very similar.

As you can see from the screen shots it's pretty much on par with the Windows conversation window, answer, hold, resume, and basic transfer are all available.  You will notice at least in a hybrid deployment finding users is somewhat of a challenge some times.  Sometimes I have seen this be a configuration issues, but given we have hundreds of Windows and mobile clients that don't have this issue, I am inclined to believe this issue is on the Mac client side.

Other Issues

One thing that is fairly annoying across platforms is when you start out using Lync/Skype for Business, it assumes almost everyone you interact with is one of your favorite people, so it is important to know how to shuffle people from group to group.  Coming from Windows I am a big right click guy, but the Mac client seems to not select the contact when you right click on them, sometimes leading to things like this.

This can be overcome a couple of ways but it is annoying to Windows users.

1.  Select the contact and use the system menu.

2.  Select the contact with the left mouse button, then right click on it.

Overall I will have to say the new Mac client is much more usable than the Lync 2011 client.  Admittedly I am glad that I don't have to use it all day, mostly because it is limited like mobile clients, but it is a step in the right direction.  Hopefully this continue the stalled UCWA development allowing things like attended transfers, conferencing or joining calls, and other things that could eventually be used to create a solid Mac attendant console.

Doug Routledge, C# Lync, Skype for Business, SQL, Exchange, UC, 
Full Stack Developer  BridgeOC Bridge Operator Console
Twitter - @droutledge @ndbridge