Lync for Mac 2011: review

On this post I wrote a client for OCS/Lync.
Now,  Microsoft released a version specifically design for Lync server features called… ‘Lync for Mac’. I think this name choice is because how much it looks like ‘Lync “for Windows”‘, and it’s really impressive how the user experience looks like in both platforms.

Everything was well designed, from the main interface (on the left), the context actions when clicking on a contact and even the toast has the same look-alike and actions:

You can compare them with the Windows version here and here, but I would say that the UC features are about 90% equal. Let me resume some:

  • Search Corporate address Book and manage contacts;
  • Rich presence (including calendar based);
  • Presence in Office for Mac applications;
  • IM, Audio and video conferencing with multiple users;
  • IM with public and federated networks;
  • Share desktop;
  • Send and receive files;
  • Make and receive PSTN voice calls.
But there are new important features that were missing from previous Mac clients:
  • As you already see, the directory contact picture is available next to the name, on the search box, conversation window,…;
  • Unique conversation window with one or more contacts. You can escalate from an IM, to a voice and video call and even participate on a shared content or presentation (including remote control):

    Just like the windows client, Lync includes the stage pane for content sharing
  • You can now join virtual meetings (audio+ video + content sharing) from the an invitation URL and even schedule from Outlook 2011 (you have to apply the Microsoft Office 2011 14.1.3 Update):

    Scheduling an online meeting will generate the URL at the body of the message.
But there are still some differences between Windows and Mac clients:
  • The conversation records are kept separately instead of the Outlook folder;
  • No activity feeds tab is available, so has the conversation and voice mail messages;
  • You can view any shared content, but you can only share your Mac desktop with others;

This table show the features available on each client

Unified user interface Lync for Mac Communicator for Mac Lync for Windows
See photos of contacts for quick identification.

Get easy access to presence, instant messaging, voice, audio, video, and online meeting.

 √   √
See and monitor the meeting roster for participants who are having difficulty with audio, video, or sharing connections during online meetings.
Join, accept, decline, or redirect the meeting invites, audio/video calls and instant messages right from the invite alerts. partial
Communicate from within Outlook, Word, or PowerPoint.
Communicate from within SharePoint.
Rich presence and instant messaging Lync for Mac Communicator for Mac Lync for Windows
Send instant messages.
Display published phone numbers, job titles, and office information all on contact cards.
Set presence status manually or automatically based on calendar, login status, and more.
Specify access levels for sharing information with different contacts.
Connect with people outside the organization with public instant-messaging connectivity (PIC), such as AOL Instant Messenger (AIM), Yahoo!, and Windows Live Messenger.
Enterprise Voice Lync for Mac Communicator for Mac Lync for Windows
Place a call from the Lync/Communicator contact card.
Receive call notifications on the computer.
Configure call forwarding in Lync/Communicator.
Access voice mail from Lync/ Communicator.
Use the client dial pad to call external numbers.
Add outside phone numbers to your Contact List.
Audio, video, and web conferencing Lync for Mac Communicator for Mac Lync for Windows

Connect using audio calls.

Connect using video calls.
Make audio and video calls to your Windows Live Messenger contacts.
Schedule conferences in Outlook.
Start an impromptu online meeting, with the click of a mouse.
Join conferences scheduled from Outlook.
Join an audio conference call using a regular mobile, desk, or home phone.
Desktop and file sharing Lync for Mac Communicator for Mac Lync for Windows
Share your desktop with other contacts.
Add audio and video to the desktop sharing session and see participants from around the world at their desks.
Join and control a PowerPoint presentation initiated from a Windows desktop.
Initiate a PowerPoint sharing session from client.
Collaborate with rich white boarding, including copy and paste images and other content, annotations, and polling.
Conduct polling.
Upload files to share with meeting participants.

My opinion: Impressive

In summary, Microsoft has now complete UC client solution for both Mac and Windows desktop users that can keep them on the leading UC market. Just can’t wait for the Lync mobile release on the next weeks…
Comments are welcome.
Lync for Mac resources link can be found in the resources page

3 thoughts on “Lync for Mac 2011: review

  1. Clayton W 06/12/2011 / 16:59

    I like what you have said, but another thing that is missing is the ability to control Audio Devices easily. In fact, I cannot get my Plantronix 420 Speakerphone (Lync Approved) to work. If I change system preferences to use the Plantronix for all input and output sounds, it still tries to use internal mike and speakers for the call. Even after restarting Lync, the speakerphone malfunctions and I get no sound at all. When I pull out the USB speakerphone, it goes back to the internal mike and speakers – which work ok, but I would like to use the speakerphone for its excellent echo cancelling abilities. Has anyone had any luck with this?

  2. Pluto 24/10/2012 / 22:05

    Luis, Thanks for all these infos.
    I am using Lync for Mac 2011 and I was surprised that I cannot give controls when sharing my desktop and also cannot start a powerpoint presentation. Did they fix or enable these options through any updates?

    • LuisR 25/10/2012 / 09:58

      As far as I tested you can still only share your desktop.

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