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Feature Overview of Microsoft Lync Server 2010 : Instant Messaging & Web Conferencing

7/24/2011 4:38:12 PM

Instant Messaging

Along with presence, collaboration through the use of IMs has been a part of Lync Server since the beginning. Although IMs are a simple mode of communication, they can be an excellent way to conduct a conversation in a quick manner without needing to resort to e-mail or a phone call.

In Lync Server, IM is not unlike IM conversations that use other providers, but the main advantage to IM with Lync Server instead of a public solution is that all the messaging is encrypted through TLS connections to the servers and an organization has complete control over how the system is used. This means that a rogue user on your network can’t start a packet sniffer application and read messages sent between two other users.

Note

Although it might be an acceptable compromise on an internal network, this security in signaling extends to remote access scenarios too, ensuring conversations that take place across the Internet are also encrypted.


The Lync Server endpoints support the same kind of features found in many other IM clients, such as rich text, emoticons, and saving messages. The end user and security features enable an organization to standardize on a single messaging client such as Lync instead of multiple clients and services. Figure 1 shows the new Lync interface, which should be familiar to any user who has used other IM products.

Figure 1. The Lync Interface


Note

A long-standing issue with many IM applications is that users think the conversation is not captured unless conducted through e-mail. Through integration with Microsoft Office Outlook, IM conversations can be saved automatically to the user’s Microsoft Exchange mailbox. These conversations are then searchable in the same way that e-mail messages are, so users can reference them at any time.

Web Conferencing

Lync Server gives users the ability to create or join virtual meetings referred to as web conferences, including attendees from inside the organization or guest users without an account in the Lync Server environment. In prior versions of Lync Server, the web conferencing experience was separated into the Live Meeting client. However, in Lync Server, the web conferencing experience has been unified and is now conducted through the same Lync client instead of through a required, separate download and installation of Live Meeting. Many of the same features from the previous release exist, and some additional capabilities have been added. These new capabilities include

  • Desktop Sharing— Enables users to share an entire desktop or just a single monitor when multiple monitors are connected. When users select a specific monitor to share, the edges of the screen glow to give a visual clue of which monitor is about to be presented.

  • Application Sharing— Users can share only a specific application that runs on the desktop. Attendees see only the application shared by the presenter instead of an entire desktop or monitor.

  • Presentation— Upload and share a PowerPoint presentation. Rather than share PowerPoint through the application-sharing feature, this option can be used to give a better experience for attendees. It has transitions and slide change controls for the presenter.

  • Polls— Presenters can conduct a questionnaire with responses attendees can select by clicking the options. The poll tallies the results for the presenter to see or for all attendees to see.

  • Whiteboard— The whiteboard in Lync Server has greatly improved and is now reminiscent of Microsoft Office OneNote where text blocks can be inserted or moved easily and images can be inserted and dragged around the screen. Whiteboard sessions can be shared among multiple presenters and saved later for reference.

Web conferencing attendees have a number of different client options for joining meetings; these offer varying degrees of functionality. They are

  • Lync— The full client can be used to join a conference or act as a presenter. This is the most complete end-user experience and has no restrictions.

  • Lync Attendee— This application is a subset of the Lync application and offers full web and A/V conferencing capabilities, but can be used only for joining a meeting.

    Note

    Lync Attendee is a free download that is available to any user, even if she does not belong to the organization. However, it does require installing the client.


  • Lync Web App— This web application is a third option for joining web conferences. Lync Web App is a browser-based Silverlight application that requires no installation other than the Silverlight prerequisite. Participants can access Lync Web App through the meeting link that can be used by anonymous, external participants or by authenticated users who want to sign in. Lync Web App does not offer any audio or video capabilities, but users can provide a phone number for the conferencing server to call them in to the meeting. Any user with a browser and Silverlight can join a meeting this way regardless of operating system or platform.

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