Windows S4B clients don’t show some Distribution (expansion) Groups


After migrating your Lync 2013 infrastructure to Skype for Business 2015 some of your users might complain that some Distribution Groups (Distribution Lists)(DLs) might not appear on their Windows Phone (WP) mobile clients.
The DL’s are Active Directory (AD) group objects designed for email applications:

You can only add them to your Lync personal contact list using the Desktop Client:

After you add them, the contact list is automatically updated on any user logged on devices. But on a Skype for Business infrastructure some groups on your personal list might no appear on WP client (the same client connected to the Lync Server on the left and to S4B server on the rigth):


The root cause is that, when you use the AD snap-in to create the groups in a standard way the field ‘Displayname’ is empty. The Desktop client:
– If there is a DisplayName on AD, the client will save and display it on the contact list
– If not, it will use the SMTP address (and save)
This behaviour happens when adding a Group and it’s updated everytime you sign-in with the client. You can see that on the client desktop picture above with the groups TEST.DL1 and TEST.DL2.

How does this impacts with Skype for Business Server and the WP client?

(A) Looks like there’s a change between Lync and Skype for Business external webservice behaviour and the way the WP handles the Group names.
Here’s the traffic capture comparison:
>> The Lync server send all the group information data

>> But the Skype for Business Server will is sending one particular field empty

(B) With the property ‘name’ empty the WP will not include the Group on the contact list to the display list, as captured on the WP client logs:


As described before, the AD snap-in doesn’t show you the DisplayName to fill in immediatly (like you do for a user account). You need to ‘show advanced options’ on the main console menu to view the ‘attribute editor’ tab and put the DisplayName value:

After that, sign-in with the Desktop client. It will update the Group name and a view seconds later it will appear on the Windows Phone client:


  • This is more likely to happen when you don’t have an Exchange/Email Server, or at least not, on the same AD as Skype for Business (since distribution lists are created on Exchange console and you define the DisplayName).
    Most probably the Office 365 AD connector takes care of this for those who have S4B on premise scenarios and use Exchange online
  • This was found on a Lync/S4B upgrade scenario, but the issue is: if you have S4B infrastructure and you create DLs manually and didn’t wrote the Group ‘DisplayName’
  • This behaviour was observed with the latest WP client version at the time
    version 6.3.1558.0
  • The iOS (iPhone, iPad and iPod) client doesn’t behave like this. If the property name is missing, it will display the group with the SMTP address
    But for these ones:
     they also have a ‘not displaying DLs’ issue condition – discussed on my next post 😉 and the ‘SMTP like’
    – if you add/refresh some other DL’s you might see that the SMTP like displayname will be empty !

One thought on “Windows S4B clients don’t show some Distribution (expansion) Groups

  1. soder 06/06/2016 / 14:44

    Nice catch, would “love” to troubleshoot this or something similar for some weeks 😦
    At least now I have updated my “whats broken in sfb?” list…

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