• 04/17/2014
    9:45 AM
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Microsoft Lync: 10 Ways To Do More

Lync does much more than instant messaging. Check out these tips and tricks for getting the most from this communication and collaboration tool.

Microsoft's unified communications platform, Lync, is more than just enterprise instant messaging: Users can hold virtual meetings with co-workers, share presentations, videoconference, connect with federated users, place voice calls, and more.

Microsoft has slowly grown its UC offering, which it launched in 2011. Today, 90% of Fortune 100 companies use Lync, and the platform generates more than $1 billion annually, the company says.

"A lot of folks will think of Lync as instant messaging for work, but it has the capabilities to replace PBX systems," says Jamie Stark, senior product marketing manager for Lync.

[Why are so many people still using Windows XP? Read Windows XP Holdouts: 6 Top Excuses.]

From holding virtual meetings to managing external contacts, here's a look at 10 ways you can do more with Microsoft Lync.

Figure 1:

1. Share your desktop.
Need to walk a member of your team through a process? Lync lets you share your desktop to make it easier.

At the bottom of the conversation window, click the monitor icon. Above it, make sure you're viewing the Present tab. To share your content on your desktop, click the Desktop button -- this will display your current view of your computer screen as you see it, including any other programs or browser tabs you have open.

If you only want to share your view of select programs or files, click the Program button next to Desktop, then choose from the list. When you're done, click Stop Presenting from the sharing toolbar at the top.

2. Give and take control of a sharing session.
If you want another meeting participant to help you present or demonstrate something, Lync lets you grant others control of the sharing session. You can take back control anytime.

To start, click Give Control on the sharing toolbar, then select the name of the person you want to give control to. Lync will send that person a notification. To take back control, click the Give Control button again, then click Take Back Control.

3. Use Whiteboard to collaborate.
Whiteboard is a feature within Lync meetings that serves as a blank page where you and others can type notes, draw, and import images. Stark says this feature is especially helpful in discussing schematics or agendas, for example.

Figure 3:

To open a new whiteboard, hover over the monitor icon and then click Whiteboard under the Present tab. A blank whiteboard will open on every participant's view of the meeting. You can also view who added or changed content by hovering over non-text items, where you'll see "created by" and

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Lync does a lot more than I knew. Too bad our IT department didn't explain it all.

Lync potential

Lync is more diverse than just IM and video calls. But companies have been slow to use all its rich features. I think Microsoft buying Skype created confusion that still exists today about how Skype and Lync are different. Also I think you're better off using Lync on Windows. I'm using Office for Mac 2011 and the Lync features are bare bones. I can't figure out for the life of me how to add my headshot to Lync on a Mac, but this is an easy thing to do in the Windows version of Lync 2013.

Re: Lync potential

A company I used to work for was a strong Lync shop, but honestly, most users still relied on it as an IM system.  Lync has a strong potential to replace a full UC build, and offers great services in terms of desktop sharing and video conferencing, making it also a potential competitor to web meeting services.  I think the issue relies lies in that users aren't getting the training required to leverage all these functionalities which is the real force holding up mass adoption of Lync.


Lync is more useful than most know, mainly because of the lack of information about it which I blame on Microsoft.  It took me a long time to master all these functions of Lync, even adding external users can be a challenge if both sides do not have external access turned on.  Still, I am very happy I can offer it to my clients as a rich feature of SharePoint\Office 365.  I am hoping MSFT eventually ties in Skype more intuitively as so many use it already (and it has the ability to edit IM posts which Lync lacks).  

This tool can be huge in opening up collaboration.  Everything from status (green-yellow-red) to quick information exchanges to desktop sharing to full blown conference room type meetings, with or without video. The tool is an under the radar feature which many companies are underutilizing due to lack of familiarization.


Caladan Consutling, Inc.

Lync also has a suite of APIs

What a lot of people don't realize is that Lync also has an extensive suite of APIs that allows developers like us to integrate and build applications on top of it. We've developed an entire 3D virtual environment that our customers use for instructor led training engagements. Our app relies on Lync to provide voice conferencing, instant messaging, and even application sharing to all of the virtual participants.