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Microsoft

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.

This new experience has been released to our on-premises customers with the May 2017 update for Skype for Business Server 2015. See this article to learn how to enable this in your on-premises deployment.

 

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.

 

26 Comments
Occasional Contributor

Good job Microsoft!!! Finally!!!

 

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

Frequent Contributor

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

Regular Visitor

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

Occasional 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! 

Frequent Contributor

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

Occasional Contributor

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.

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.

Microsoft

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

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?

Occasional Contributor

@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.

 

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.

Contributor

We're having troubles with participants who have Chrome as their default browser...any suggestions?

 

Thanks.

Occasional Visitor

With regards to point 5 "call me back" feature - we have a number of deployments whereby an anonymous external participant selects this web app option to call a PSTN number. The call is placed, but when answered by the PSTN party, a continuous ringtone is heard and audio to the meeting is not connected. I raised this on another tecnet post : https://social.technet.microsoft.com/Forums/lync/en-US/598730c6-145e-444b-b71b-8d33a2a60b07/anonymou...

 

The answer given is that this dial out feature is not actually supported for Web App as below:

 

"I would like to inform you that this was a bug and it will not be fixed as per the update from PG. As per the Product group they have clearly told that the dial out option is not supported through Web App in SFB anymore. They are planning on allowing audio join via PSTN option in the future, but will be limited to authenticated users as per the update."

 

Can you confirm if this is the case as Microsoft still show this feature in product articles ?

Microsoft

Hi @paul schofield , thanks for bringing this to my attention. There seems to be a bug and we are working on fixing it. All the available PSTN options are fully supported in the WebApp, nothing has changed here.

Occasional Visitor

Hi Martin

 

Thanks for the update - at this stage would you be able to provide any indication on timeline for the fix?

 

Regards

Occasional Visitor

Hi Martin, Great article. 

 

I would like to know, can we "rate my call" like functionality for SFB on lync 2013 servers as well?

Are there any workarounds available for knowing the user's call experience ?

Please let me know.

 

Thanks,

Richa

Microsoft

Hi @Richa Parihar,

thank you! Rate my Call was only introduced in Skype for Business Server 2015. Older versions do not support this feature.

 

 

Best regards,

Martin.

Hi there, I'm running into the situation where a number of external clients require admin rights to get the Web App to run. Based on the info above in the post is this not supposed to be the case? Or are there instances where a certain IT Policy could prevent the Web App from being installed? Thanks, Hutch
Microsoft

@Jonathan Hutcheon are these meetings hosted online or on-prem? If on-prem, can you confirm that they've enabled the CDN-based distribution of the WebApp to switch to the new version?

@Martin Rinas, we have a hybrid environment as we migrate to O365 however users tied to the on-prem infrastructure have meeting functionality disabled. All O365 users are being deployed with SfB Online (IM/P/Audio/Video/Meetings).
Microsoft

Hi @Jonathan Hutcheon

for meetings hosted online, there is no admin rights requirement to install or use the plugin.

 

A user could be promoted to change Windows firewall settings which require admin rights, but that can be safely cancelled, and the user experience will not be affected. The prompt could be shown on first meeting join and cancel selection will be saved.

 

@Martin Rinas We are seeing scenarios where some external clients who are attempting to connect to our meetings via the Web App are being prompted for admin rights. Is that likely a policy on their workstation enforced by their IT departments or could it be a configuration issue on our side?
Frequent Visitor

@Martin Rinas Is the "Join audio conference via PSTN call back" bug still being worked on for the WebApp?  I have had several companies inform me that this still doesn't work. 

 

@Martin Rinas Any update?  I just had this issue come up again today.  It would be great if @Microsoft was going to address this bug or at least remove the feature leaving people perplexed on why it calls them, they answer, and it just continues to ring. 

Contributor

Why is it that sometimes, apparently at random, an internal user is presented with the Skype Meeting App in a browser window even when the meeting is from another user in our same tenant and domain, and the participant has a Skype for Business client on their machine?  I've seen this happen, but I've never been able to figure out why.  Its confusing for users who always use the desktop client

 

Thanks

Frequent Visitor

@George Cabe  We have this issue as well and have identified as when someone receives a skype meeting invite that isn't in Outlook and their default browser is Internet Explorer.  For example, if I Instant Message you a link to a Skype meeting, it will open a IE window asking the user what to do in the WebApp including use the desktop client.  However, it won't remember that selection like a file association type.  If your default browser is Edge, Chrome, or Firefox on the other hand, it will remember that selection to use the desktop client and always open the Skype meeting url in the Desktop client. 

 

Senior Member

I Have same kind of issue as George.  When user have skype for business as default meeting app and edge or internet explorer as default browser.

When user clicks in outlook on the meeting link it will open the window where to choose meetings app or desktop client.

How to set to defaults that it wont ask for options to use meetings app or desktop app if desktop client is installed.

 

This is confusing users and ends up that they load meetings app. How to set it so it will load always the desktop client, I dont want to disable meetings app. When clicking join button it wont ask for it.