Martin Rinas
Microsoft
‎04-13-2017 03:07 AM

Enhancing Skype for Business Online Meetings for external participants

‎04-13-2017 03:07 AM

We heard you that joining online meetings for external participants was too complicated. We have worked hard to make improvements to this process, I am happy to share details on these improvements that will be live for all our Office 365 customers middle of April 2017:

 

  • Simplified meeting join experience with single-click join experience for Internet Explorer
  • Join audio conference via PSTN call back
  • Always fresh client
  • Optimized screen real-estate for content sharing and collaboration.

We are also planning to release this new experience to our on-premises customers with an upcoming cumulative update, so stay tuned!

 

Let’s walk through a scenario to cover the entire meeting join experience and improvements end-to-end. Remember Garth from our training on Tenant Dial Plans? Garth is with Contoso, and he is scheduling a Skype meeting with his customer Alice. Garth schedules the meeting in his Outlook client and adds the Skype Meeting into the invite, and Alice accepts the meeting invite.

 

However, Garth is now is wondering how Alice can join his meeting.

  • Does Alice have Skype for Business?
  • If not, how would she be able to join the meeting
  • Can Alice download and install the Skype Web App on her PC?
  • Does she have local administrator rights on her machine to do so?
  • What about a headset, how will Alice be able to join with Audio into the Skype Meeting?

Garth is wondering if is there a need to tell Alice what she needs to do to join the meeting? Let’s see what happens.

 

 

  1. Alice does not have Skype for Business installed on her PC, nor does she have local Administrative Rights on her machine.
  2. Alice clicks the Join Skype Meeting link in the invite and installs the Skype Web App. The installation requires no administrative rights on her machine and completes after a few seconds.HowWouldYouLiketoJoinYourMeeting.png
  3. After the installation, she clicks the Join the meeting button. The new Skype Web App starts, she enters her name, and is connected to the meeting.
    join meeting.png

     

  4. Garth already shared a PowerPoint deck, the Web App automatically selects the best layout for the shared content and they can start the meeting. The Skype Web App UI is optimized for screen real-estate for content sharing and collaboration.
    bigger pic.png

  5. A yellow notification told her that she is using Skype for Business Audio and Video. She can also either dial-in or choose to use the call-me back function. This is useful in scenarios where external participants don't have an audio device like a headset available.


    Note:
    call-me back requires AllowAnonymousUsersToDialOut to be enabled by the IT Admin in the conferencing policy of the meeting organizer.

    audio and video.png
    call me back.png

 

The new Skype for Business Web App has several additional improvements:

 

Experience a faster, reliable, and more efficient screen-sharing experience
The new Web App supports video based screen sharing (VBSS) improving the overall user experience in the sharing session.

 

Disabled controls
Controls to share content are disabled for attendees. Once promoted to presenter, these controls will light up and they can start to share the screen or other content using the Skype for Business Web App.

SWA1.PNG

Save Settings
When exiting the meeting, the Skype for Business Web App will ask to save the current settings like the display name and preferred audio join method (IP audio, dial-in or call-me when available) for the next meeting.

 

Sign-In with Office 365 Account
Instead of joining as a guest, you can also sign-in as an authenticated user using your Office 365 Account.

o365.pngAlways Fresh Client
The Web App will check for newer version when joining a meeting. If an update is available, it downloads in the background, and you will join the meeting. After the meeting has ended the Skype for Business Web App will update itself. Newer versions of the Web App are backward-compatible with earlier versions of the Web App, e.g.,  you don’t have to install an older version if you join a meeting that is hosted in an on-premises environment.

 

Rate your meeting quality and help us improve
A brief survey will be presented to users joining from a Windows computer through the new Skype for Business Web App experience; while you will not be able to access this data, Microsoft will use it to improve the experience further.

qual.png

Garth is happy again, Alice could join the meeting right away even as this was her very first meeting with Skype for Business.

 

11 Comments
Jean-Philippe Breton
Regular Visitor

Good job Microsoft!!! Finally!!!

 

Will client be able to customize the Web App page?  Corporate Logo / background?

Jörg von der Ohe
Contributor

 Can't wait to see this new experience On-Prem

Corey Winn
Visitor

This will make life so much easier! Improving the user experience over competing products like WebEx is always good..

Bruce Kraft Jr
New Contributor

While the improvements are nice and appreciated, they still require separate app downloads. What about the growing number of users who might be jumping on from their phone? Some users prefer not do download apps but join meetings via browsers. What about chromebooks? Is there no way for users to join Skype for business online meetings without doing a public broadcast? 

 

Thanks for the updates and improvements! 

Darwin Jebha
Contributor

When do we expect without the need to installing a Web Plugin LWA? WEB RTC is the way to go.

Richard Crowley
Regular Visitor

A couple of points:

 

1) You need to drop the Lync URL in the meeting - this confused people

 

2) Has the 'Sign in if you have an Office 365 Account' experiance improved.  It used to confuse people by not seeming to work, as it only worked for meetings hosted on the same tenant as the user joining via a browser.  So (for example), if we have a client (who has their own O365 Tenant), join a meeting we are hosting on our tenant, will 'Sign in if you have an Office 365 Account' work for them, not being a user in our tenant?

 

Thanks.

Martin Rinas
Microsoft

@Bruce Kraft Jr

Thank you for your feedback, currently those users can always join through PSTN into the meeting to participate, the PSTN coordinates are included in the meeting invite.

Martin Rinas
Microsoft

@Darwin Jebha @Bruce Kraft Jr Thanks! We are working on a plugin-less experience, so stay tuned for updates!

Martin Rinas
Microsoft

@Richard Crowley thank you for your feedback. We are considering the FQDN change for the join URL. On the second item, how often do you see your users, external participants and partner trying to sign in using the option provided?

Richard Crowley
Regular Visitor

@Martin Rinas - I'm not sure of exact numbers, but I hear it's one of the biggest complaints of using Skype for Business with external parties, or even when my users are connecting in to a meeting that another client, or partner has created on their tenant.

 

Stephanie Gray
Occasional Visitor

This is great news.  One of the other main challenges that I have seen with external clients is their IT departments have blocked or locked down the ability to use "Skype".  What is Microsoft doing to inform the masses of the difference between Skype & Skype for Business and why they shouldn't be blocking it?  Very hard to get a potential client to let you talk to their IT department to educate them on the differences so they allow for Skype conferencing.