Friday, December 16, 2011

Lync 2010 Lync Mobile Client

Earlier this week, I blogged about the new Lync mobile client – i.e. client software for smart phones and the iPad. As of mid afternoon today, the client sets for WP7 and Android are shipping. From the comments I hear from users – this software is fairly trivial to install and does what it says! It also adds value to the Office 365 proposition. I can’t wait to use it against Lync Online!

There is one small gotcha – in order to use this new client against your on-premise Lync deployment – well first you have to have one (the client is of no use unless you have an implementation of Lync to use it against). And secondly, assuming you have Lync working, there are upgrades to the product, the mobility service, that need to be added. And there are a couple of DNS changes to be made and a new firewall port to open. Those are pretty straightforward but of course have to be done before the client can work against your implementation of Lync.  For those of you on Office 365, all that work is done – although you need to make DNS changes if you are hosting the DNS for your Office 365 domain.

I’ve seen very few issues reported so far, and the general consensus in Twitter at least is that the client is working well. About the only negative comment was from Michael Smith (Market Management Director at Cisco). Of course he got it wrong ranting about no Android/IOS support, which seemed to blunt most of his argument. One point he does pick up on is  that there is no VOIP feature in the client.

To support VOIP, the mobile handset would have to either support wireless and have wireless connectivity or use the cellular data channel against your data plan. Those are the only two ways to get the IP datagrams carrying VOIP signaling and data from your phone to the other end of the connection. If you are using wireless to connect, then VOIP calls will constitute additional bandwidth both from the phone to the WAP and from the WAP into your enterprise network. If your wireless infrastructure is not up the mark, you end up with poor service and a bunch of unhappy users. Using your cellular carrier for the actual phone call reduces that risk.  If you were using VOIP over wireless, then the battery life takes a hit.  Battery life on my phone is sure improved when I turn the WIFI off!

Using VOIP over the cellular carrier’s data channel might have once made sense – sadly the days of unlimited data may well be gone with most mobile phone companies imposing limits and costs. And don’t get me started about how expensive it can be to use data roaming when outside the UK or worse outside the EU (around half my working time is spent outside the UK). Even with the inflated call cost outside the UK, using the mobile network for the phone calls is a lot cheaper. Outside the EU, we can pay over £6/mb for cellular data. A one minute call over such a link would consume in the region of 4.6mb (assuming RTA Narrowband is used) for the call and would cost around £14.00. Worst case rates on O2 are £1.79/minute for the cellular call. A no brainer to me – plus the company pays the cost of the call.

A VOIP client in the product might have been nice to have, but from an Enterprise perspective, using Call-From-Work makes more sense as provides better assurance over call quality and lower help desk calls. These users do, of course,have Skype which works perfectly as a VOIP phone for those times when they can tether on the USB to keep the battery topped up and are on a well provisioned wireless network. With Skype now belonging to Microsoft, I can’t help but thinking that one day we will have the combined client – but exactly what Skype will do to Lync is a topic for another day. 

But in the meantime, it looks like another nice addition to the Lync family aimed at.  I am anxious to try it out!

Technorati Tags: ,,

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

PowerShell ISE Script Explorer–Get it Today

Microsoft has just released the latest CTP release of the Microsoft Script Explorer for Windows PowerShell. This is an add-in to the ISE that enables you to search for scripts within the PowerShell ISE. With this release, you can:

  • Search online repositories including PoshCode and Technet
  • Establish and search local and corporate script repositories
  • Filter search by location and product relevance
  • Browse Community Resources, including the TechNet Wiki
  • Integrate community samples into corporate script library seamlessly

This CTP is based on an invitation – and I just happen to have one:

Click on this link and login to Connect. If you are not already resistered on Connect, you need to sign with a valid Microsoft LiveID.

So head on over, and try it out. Feel free to leave you comments – either here, or with Microsoft!

Technorati Tags: ,

PowerShell’s ++ and -- Operators (Redux)

A couple of days ago, I posted an article on PowerShell’s ++ and – operators. I grew up using programming languages that never implemented the auto increment/decrement operators, this was a neat new feature for me.

But I have had a couple of comments pointing out that these operators are not new, are in C# and what I describe is indeed by design. Of course they are right. The point I was making was aimed at those new to PowerShell and who probably do not have a background in programming.

For the avoidance in doubt, I know how these operators work and am well aware of them and their behavior. Smile But I do see many IT Pros that discover these operators for the first time in a PowerShell class – and it was a question I’d been asked that I posted about.  For those new to programming and to PowerShell, these two operators are a neat find and I advocate using them. But like many of PowerShell’s richer features, you have to know how they work.


Microsoft Begins Shipping the Lync Mobile Client

For those of us in the Lync world, the release of a Lync client for mobile phones has been long awaited. Although Microsoft released Lync 2010 to the market over a year ago, there has been no mobile client up till now. The lack of a mobile client has been a point some Microsoft competitors have been quick to jump on. But starting earlier this week, the client is slowly rolling out on 5 key platforms (Windows phone, iPhone, iPad, Android and Nokia Symbian).  Thus far, Microsoft has only released Lync for the Windows Phone – the others are shown as ‘coming soon’ on the Mobile Clients for Microsoft Lync web page.

Microsoft cites 4 key features of the new Lync mobile client:

  • Join conferences with a single touch - no access code or pin number is required.
  • Stay connected, while controlling your availability – you can see who's available at a glance and connect over IM, email or a call. You can also set your own status and notification settings so you can stay in touch while protecting your "off-work" time.
  • Communicate with others using a single, consistent identity. The Call-via-work feature allows outbound calls using your Enterprise Voice number, making it easier for others to recognize calls from the Lync mobile client.
  • Connect with confidence through channel encryption, transport layer security (TLS) support, and perimeter/internal network protection that help safeguard your communications.

To the dismay of some, there is no VOIP client – all phone calls to/from the device have to be made over the cellular network, but Call from work and One Number reach do make that a little less expensive.  It appears that the Call via Work feature will not be shipped with Android.

Like so many things Microsoft, the client is not something you can just load from the relevant store and have it work – you do need some work on your Lync implementation and need to install the latest cumulative updates (CU4 in particular) to get the necessary services up and running that support the motile client.

These requirements are spelt out in yet another TechNet article: You will need to do some work against your DNS servers to ensure automatic discovery and sign-in works properly. Although this is pretty straightforward, it is work that needs to be planned for and carried out. If you are an Office 365 user and Microsoft is managing your DNS, the work appears to be already done. I host DNS externally to Office 365 but it took me just a few minutes to adjust my DNS settings as needed. You also have to install and configure the mobility service (in CU4), and update your voice policy to support use of the mobile client.

One important gotcha that might be easy to overlook: You need to include certain (new and additional) SAN entries on your key servers. In particular you need to adjust SAN entries on the certificates in your Director pool, your Front End Pool and the reverse proxy. If you use public certificates for any of these systems, you may have to buy an updated certificate for the RP system. 

In closing, it’s worth noting that the mobile client does NOT provide 100% of the features of the Lync desktop client.  You can see a good comparison of the various clients at: Some features that are NOT provided by the mobile client (as documented in TechNet) include:

  • Caching multiple users account information on the same device
  • Modify Contacts List
  • Tag contacts for status change alerts
  • Control privacy relationships
  • Log IM conversations in Exchange/Outlook
  • Use dial-in audio conferencing
  • Transfer a call
  • Call a response group
  • Support E911
  • Client side IM archiving and client side recording

I can’t wait to get my hands on the client and to use it against my Office 365 account ( From all I’ve heard from those who have the client – it does what it says it does and thus far appears stable and resilient. I look forward to using the client - As an iPhone user, I will have to patient. After all – I’ve been waiting 14 months or so for this client a few more days wait is not the end of the world! It will make a nice Christmas present!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Using PowerShell’s ++ (and–-) operator–Take Care

I got a great question the other week in a PowerShell class regarding the ++ operator. The delegated to know if there was any difference between $variable++ and ++$variable. In PowerShell, the operator ++ says, effect to add one to the variable it’s attached to.  So specifying $loopcounter++ as a statement on it’s own (e.g. inside a loop would just add one to the loop counter variable. 

I don’t use the ++ operator a lot – When I was first learning programming, the languages we had (assembler, Cobol, RPG, Fortran and Algol) never had these operators. So incrementing loop counters freestanding is about all I ever do. But I started playing and found some interesting things about ++!

First, looking at my most common use case, $variable++ and ++$variable seem to be the same as this code illustrates:

$lc=0;1..10 | foreach {$lc++};"Loop counter: $lc"
$lc=0;1..10 | foreach {++$lc};"Loop counter: $lc"


Loop counter: 10
Loop counter: 10


So at that level the formats are equivalent in function.  And for the most part, the ++ operator used before or after the variable name produces similar results. But not in all cases. Consider the following code fragment:

“Case 1”;$lc=0;1..5 | foreach {"{0}" -f $lc++};"Loop counter: $lc"
”Case 2”;$lc=0;1..5 | foreach {"{0}" -f ++$lc};"Loop counter: $lc"

These two code fragments do not produce the same output. In the first case, the value of LC is formatted into the string, THEN it’s incremented, whereas in the later case, the incrementing occurs before the formatting. Thus the output looks like this:

Case 1
Loop counter: 5
Case 2
Loop counter: 5

So as you can see ++$variable is not always the same as $variable++.  Another curiosity of PowerShell that you just have to know!


Of course, if you know C# or some other newer languages ++/-- may be old hat to you. And thanks for the comments that came from this post!

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

PowerShell 3.0 CTP2 Released for Windows 7/Server2008R2

I’ve been on the road a bit lately, and missed last week’s shipment of the PowerShell V3 CTP2. This is the second ''beta'’ of the upcoming PowerShell Version 3. At present this only works in Windows 7 and Server 2008 R2. There are, as I understand it, no plans for this to back-port to Vista and Server 2008 R2. I do hope that MSFT DO release a version for Vista and Server 2008 RTM but we’ll see.

In the meantime, the new version has lots of bug fixes, seems quite a bit faster and in general seems more mature than CTP1. In my case, the install was a bit confusing as I’m doing a multi-boot to VHD with Windows 8 on my laptop, unfortunately, one of the partitions (of course my default) ran out of disk space so after installing the update, recovering from the out of disk space issue, Win 7 thought the update had failed. I fixed the boot problem, then re-installed the update. From the looks of it, the update also does an in-place upgrade of the CTP 1 process (although the release notes ask you to remove CTP1 first).

The new CTP has a wealth of update to the console and the ISE. With the ISE, the output and input panes are merged into a single console like pane. Very useful and much easier to use. Read the release notes for a summary of what’s new.

You can get the various downloads that make up the release here: From that page you can get the 64-bit and 32-bit installation packages (.MSU files), release notes and a PDF containing a description of the new ISE Features and a description of the new features in Out-Gridview.

I love this product!

Technorati Tags: