Skype for Business Server CU3
It’s been a while since the latest Cumulative Update for Skype for Business (CU3 9319.259) dropped from Microsoft. I help back writing about it till I had had a chance to deploy it in our own Production servers and played with it properly to then share my views and thoughts on it.
Well, as far as Cumulative Updates goes this one came with 4 new features bundled in with it which I think might be worth talking about.
1. Busy options
This feature I struggled to see the appeal of personally as I am the type of guy that likes to know who is calling me no matter what the situation. But there are people out there who don’t appreciate the fact that they are disturbed with a ringing noise in their ear when they are in a conference or on a call and previously these tortured souls needed to rely on third party tools in order to either send a busy tone to the caller, or transfer them to voice mail if they were on the phone. Well, looks like Microsoft heard you as they have now added this capability natively to this product. IN order to use this feature need to enable the Busy Options feature on a voice policy which you can do either through the Skype for Business Control Panel
or there are always the trusted PowerShell commands you can use
Set-CsVoicePolicy -EnableBusyOptions $true (Turns on Busy Options on all Voice Policies)
Set-CsVoicePolicy -Identity Site1 -EnableBusyOptions $true (only turns on Busy Options for Voice Policy named Site1)
Hang on we aren’t done yet. Now that you have turned on this feature you need to set the actual course of action for when you get the dreaded call waiting situation. This is something I’m sure the end users will tell you which one they prefer but their options are as follows
When this is set, any call coming in when you are busy will automatically be given the busy tone so that they know that you are engaged (unless the caller himself is using a SfB client in which case he is notified that you are busy). The following PowerShell command achieves this
Set-CsBusyOptions -Id “Homer Simpson” -ActionType BusyOnBusy
This one is a no brainer. If I’m on the phone, send the caller to Voicemail. That’s pretty much all there is to it.
Set-CsBusyOptions -Id “Homer Simpson” -ActionType VoicemailOnBusy
As a final note, keep in mind that this feature if activated and set for a user, will be ignored by Voice applications like Response groups, Team Call, Boss Delegation, Shared Line appearance and Call Parking Service, and their calls will land as normal regardless. Shared Line appearance has its own Busy Options settings which take precedence and kick in as configured. Simultaneous ringing will also not work is a call is rejected by Busy options so don’t get panicky.
2. Video-based Screen Sharing
This is something that may sound familiar as it was something released as part of the Skype for Business 2016 client. Basically this is one of those features which is happening under the hood and is there to improve Desktop Sharing experience for users. Older clients for Lync and SfB use RDP as the protocol for screen sharing in a P2P session. With this feature, newer clients were able to do a screen share (and only screen share) using an H.264 video stream as opposed to RDP. This video stream gave better frame rates, was more reliable and utilised less bandwidth. However the moment you changed the modality from a P2P session to a Conference, then it was back to using RDP.
Well with this update, VBSS is now supported in conferences also. Now in a multi-party conference you can benefit from the new Codec being used to stream your desktop to all participants who are using the new client. If older clients are detected in the conference then server will revert to using RDP for screen sharing purposes.
This is one of those features which you won’t be able to point to on a screen and say that is where it is turned on from. Instead you will most likely just be seeing its benefits in terms of a more reliable and smoother screen share when in P2P or Conference sessions.
If you are hungry for more, then please check out “My name Jeff” Schertz blog as he does a pretty in depth coverage of this feature in terms of the client as well as the new server side update for conferencing.
3. Multiple Emergency Numbers
The name says it all about this one really. Even though in the US they have a single emergency number of 911, in the UK we support both 999 and 112 for the EU citizens. Well with this feature you can now create Location Policies and assign them up to a maximum of 5 emergency numbers. You can also specify a dial mask for a given location which consists of numbers which if dialled are automatically translated to the defined emergency number of the location.
I can see this being useful for large multi-nationals which have employees roaming around the world who keep getting confused on what the local Emergency number is. However if you are a small UK based entity like us, this this is something you are going to be happy to be aware, of but will find little use for in your organisation.
4. Offline Messaging
Ok this is something that I can really get behind as I was always thought this feature was a no brainer and should have been part of the core functionality for quite a while. I used to get really annoyed that I couldn’t just leave a message for a user who is offline and have them pick it up the moment they logged in to the client. Well with this feature you now can do exactly that. The exact mechanics on how this feature works and how to configure and tweak it are best taken from Microsoft’s own website here and here. That is about as much as can be said about this feature.