Whats Missing in the Lync Client for Windows Phone 7

Microsoft Lync is one of those fantastic products that I yearn for. It cross cuts the entire communication eco-system and gives you fantastic integration across the Microsoft stack including SharePoint and the Office application suite, however much to my dismay we don’t use Lync in my place of work and instead use the mediocre Cisco CUCM. To this end, my only experiences with Lync in a real-world ‘anger’ situations are when participating in calls hosted by other companies using Lync, Microsoft themselves being the main player for me.

For a long time now, there has been speculation of a Lync Client for Windows Phone 7 being released and this week it finally hit the marketplace not only for Windows Phone 7, but also for Apple iOS devices, Android and Symbian.

The app looks great in the screenshots, showing the features on offer well, however one huge feature is missing for me. The ability to use the app as a Lync Attendee Client: See Lync offers two different clients. The full blown corporate use client and the Lync Attendee Client. If you use Lync in a corporate scenario you will have the full client, however if you are like me and only use Lync to participate in sessions hosted by others, you use the lighter Lync Attendee Client which doesn’t require credentials and is designed around guest access.

Sadly, the Lync Client app for the mobile handsets released this week is only suitable for full client use scenarios as told by the app guidance notes in the Windows Phone Marketplace:

IMPORTANT: Microsoft Lync 2010 for Windows Phone requires a Lync Server or Office365/Lync Online account and will not work without it. If you are unsure about your account status, please contact your IT department.

He being me, I decided to install the app and try it anyway, but sadly the prescribed guidance was correct. This was a sucker-punch to me, and I think it will limit somewhat the ability for people to use the Lync Client. My only hope is that a separate client is released which does give you the ability to participate in Lync sessions as a guest.

If you are lucky enough to use Lync in a full deployment, you can get the app for Windows Phone 7 from http://www.windowsphone.com/en-US/apps/9ce93e51-5b35-e011-854c-00237de2db9e.

What Does the Windows Live SkyDrive App Do For You?

Personally, not a lot in a nutshell.

This post comes off the back of the announcement today from Microsoft of the release of a Windows Live SkyDrive app for Windows Phone 7 and Apple iOS devices. You can read the post for yourself in full from http://windowsteamblog.com/windows_live/b/windowslive/archive/2011/12/13/introducing-skydrive-for-iphone-and-windows-phone.aspx.

For Windows Phone 7, I don’t see the application providing a whole lot that isn’t already available through the Pictures and Office Hubs integrated into Windows Phone. Sure, it does have a few new features that aren’t previously available like the ability to share links to your documents or pictures and gives you the ability to create new folders within your SkyDrive account, but that’s it for the new stuff.

iOS device users get more because they currently have zero SkyDrive integration, but that still doesn’t give you integration, just functionality. For iOS device users, you could say that it does actually give them a lot more than a nothing nutshell, but obviously what I write is focused on Microsoft technologies (in case you didn’t guess from all my previous posts).

For me what would be a serious leap in the usability and resourcefulness of Windows Live SkyDrive would be the consolidation of Windows Live Mesh (previously Windows Live Sync and Microsoft Live Mesh as two separate projects) and SkyDrive, or the release of a SkyDrive desktop client. DropBox and many other online file repository sites have desktop clients allowing you download, upload, sync and use all of your content across your desktops, laptops and mobile devices, however SkyDrive and Mesh are currently flawed.

Windows Live Mesh allows you to sync files to your desktop with a desktop client, and allows you to sync that content across multiple devices including the ability to sync between Windows PC and Mac, however it is limited to 5GB and although the application and the Windows Live Mesh web interface state that the storage is based on Windows Live SkyDrive, the folders and content are isolated and not interoperable.

Consolidating the storage pools in Windows Live Mesh and Windows Live SkyDrive would allow you to sync content between iOS devices, Mac, Windows PC and Windows Phone which would be utterly living the dream. All of this of course is overlooking the additional features of Windows Live Mesh already available today including the ability to sync Internet Explorer favourites and Office Outlook signatures, Office styles and templates and custom dictionaries.

Just imagine for one moment: The ability to sync all of your documents and pictures to all of your devices both desktop, portable and pocket, and have changes to those documents automatically replicated to all your other devices, have your standard email signature available on all your devices to provide you with a truly unified front when sending and responding to email communiqué, all whilst having your own shorthand, TLAs and words available in the dictionary saving you countless autocorrect issues on your mobile device?

Cisco SCCP IP Phones Displaying Incorrect Time

In our office in the little old place known as England, we use Cisco 7941 and will soon to begin using 7942 Cisco SCCP IP Phones . The company uses Cisco Call Manager 6 or CUCM for those in the know. In our local office we are using a Cisco technology called SRST or Survivable Remote Site Telephony.

This technology, SRST allows our IP handsets to fallback to operating with a locally situated CME or Call Manager Express device so that if our Internet connection to our corporate head office fails then we still have limited telephony functionality.

One issue that has always plagued us here is that our phones would show the US time and date from our West Coast, San Jose based CUCM. Although only a minor issue it meant that call logs didn’t show the time you would expect nor did the phone if you wanted to look at the time.

When speaking to our IT department they couldn’t put their finger on a fix, so after researching online initially I suggested to them that a Device Profile be created on the CUCM to force the handsets to use United Kingdom locale instead of the US one. The change was implemented but the phones still show the US time, so what gives?

Upon reading some more information online today, I discovered that the key is the SRST device: A Cisco 2801 Integrated Services Router in our case. When a phone is associated with an SRST device, the SRST registers itself as an additional CUCM on the phone. For me, this appears as a third Call Manger as we have an Active and a Standby Call Manager in a cluster in our US office. When using SRST, the phone knows that the SRST device will always be closer geographically to the phone than the CUCM, hence the whole point of having SRST and once this is established, the phone will always learn the date and time from it’s local device.

Using the following command on the router I was able to see the problem that when the router was configured by our US colleagues they left the time zone setting on the router to Pacific by default, which would seem normal for them:

uk-srst#show clock
05:01:44.254 PST Fri Aug 13 2010
uk-srst#

This means that the time zone on the SRST 2801 needs to be changed to GMT for our country, England, correctly. This is done using two commands – The first command sets the time zone to GMT. The second command enables summer time or daylight savings as some call it, and uses the BST or British Summer Time variant of daylight savings:

uk-srst#config t
uk-srst(config)#clock timezone GMT 0
uk-srst(config)#clock summer-time BST recurring
uk-srst(config)#end
uk-srst#
uk-srst#show clock
13:01:44.254 BST Fri Aug 13 2010
uk-srst#

As you can see from the IOS output above, after entering the two commands, the clock is now using BST for British Summer Time. Saving the running configuration and then rebooting all of the effected SCCP IP Phones will apply the new date and time zone settings accordingly.

Using SDM with GNS3 and Dynamips in Windows 7

I am currently experimenting with the GNS3 and Dynamips network emulation platform to help me get to grips with some of the Cisco IOS commands for my CCNA, and I ran into a problem yesterday.

Parts of the ICND1 exam require knowledge of the Cisco SDM GUI application, however as it stands you cannot access the routers and switches within your GNS3 environment.

A link on the GNS3 forum takes you to a video which someone has produced providing instructions on how to access and use SDM for your virtual routers, however instructions are for Windows XP and cannot be followed for Windows 7.

If you are using GNS3 and Dynamips then follow these steps to get SDM working.

Read the Full Post