We've had feedback about installing and using the Skype Meetings App to join Skype for Business meetings. We are excited to announce improvements to address these issues.
First a refresher: The Skype Meetings App, or SMA for short, is a web-downloadable meetings app for use when a Skype for Business desktop app is not installed on a Windows or Mac computer. SMA is available for meetings hosted on SfB Online or on SfB 2015 Server that is configured to use the online Microsoft Content Delivery Network (CDN). If your on-premises server is not configured to use SMA, see this blog post for info.
The first set of improvements is available now and will make the download and launch of SMA easier. Last week we released changes to the joining web pages you see when you click the link to join a meeting. The web pages ask whether to use a desktop app or SMA, and then help you download and launch SMA if you need it. The improvements include:
- Making troubleshooting steps easy to find - The joining web pages lead you through the steps of downloading and installing SMA. When the web page thinks the steps are completed, it shows an All Set! page and tries to launch SMA. If something went wrong, however, you might need to repeat a part of the process. To retry a step, you previously had to click the Let us help troubleshoot link. This was not very obvious, so we moved the retry links directly onto the All Set! Page so they are easy to find.
All set! web page
- Smoothly handle if SMA was uninstalled – Problems can also come if you had installed SMA and then uninstalled it. When you later try to join a meeting, the joining web pages remember (in a cookie) that SMA was installed, so they try to launch it. Depending on your default browser, you could see a messaging saying the app was not there or that you needed to install an app from Microsoft Store. We've removed misleading messages and made the link to download the app again easy to find.
The second set of improvements fixes issues in Skype Meetings App itself and will be released over the next few weeks.
- Connect audio through the default communication device when joining the meeting - In some cases, SMA chose the default audio device instead of the default communication device on a Windows computer. This results in the meeting audio playing through a device where you won’t notice it, and you might think that audio hasn't connected at all. This fix requires installing an update to the app. The next time you use SMA for a meeting, the app will notice that an update is available and prompt you to install the update after you leave your meeting. This fix will be available this week.
- Reset the default meeting app to SfB desktop – If you select the option to use SMA in the joining web pages, the pages will save a cookie to remember your choice for later meetings. If you later change your mind and want to use the desktop app instead, the default choice may not get updated, so the web pages will continue to launch SMA. A fix for this issue will be available in early November.
Skype Meetings App Window
The third set of improvements are focused on improving reliability and providing a richer meeting experience for Mac users.
- Allow joining meetings as a guest from SfB desktop app on Mac – The Skype for Business for Mac desktop app now offers the ability to join a meeting as a guest without signing in. If you don’t have an SfB account or you are in a different organization than the meeting organizer, you can use the desktop app for your meetings. This feature is available today with the latest app version.
When you click a link to join a Skype for Business meeting, you will see the following screen if you are not signed into the app:
Join as Guest option in Skype for Business for Mac
To use the Skype for Business for Mac desktop app to join meetings now, do the following:
- Download and install the SfB desktop app from https://aka.ms/SfBMacDownload. (Note that the installer currently requires you to have administrator permissions on your computer, but we will remove that requirement soon.)
- If you have been using Skype Meetings App to join meetings, clear the cookies in your default browser.
- When you click to join a meeting, select the option to use the desktop app.
- Replace Skype Meetings App download with Skype for Business desktop app on Mac - In order to provide the best and most stable meeting experience on Mac, we will provide the Skype for Business desktop app for all users. Starting in early December, the joining web pages will only offer SfB desktop app for download.
How would you like to join your meeting? web page
The desktop app brings many advantages over SMA: Screen sharing, audio, and video are significantly more reliable. The meeting experience is built around a larger and more immersive display of video and shared content. Screen sharing from the Mac uses Video-based Screen Sharing (VbSS), which is faster and more reliable than Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) used by SMA. The app has also been optimized to work well with macOS 10.14 (Mojave), including Dark Mode.
There are two additional impacts due to this change. The desktop app is larger, so the download will take 10-20 seconds longer on average, depending on your network connection. Secondly, the desktop app does not support whiteboard, polls, Q&A, and attachments. For a full comparison of Skype for Business for Mac and Skype Meetings App features, see the Supported Meetings Features table in Plan for Meetings clients (Web App and Meetings App).
We are excited to bring these improvements to you over the next two months. The dates for future releases are estimates, and we will give updates here when these improvements ship.