A Week With Lync 2013

Lync Server 2013

We’re still prepping servers for installing Lync Server 2013 in our datacenter. Having trouble nailing someone down to do the install…something about supporting clients being higher priority…

However, I was able to install Office 2013 on my laptop last week. That includes the brand-new Lync 2013 desktop client. Lync 2013 Client

Having spent a week using it now, these are my impressions.

Favorite new feature: Tabbed Conversation Windows

With Lync 2010, each conversation took place in its own window. From there you could IM, add voice, add video, or loop others into the conversation. Very useful.

But more than one separate conversation meant more than one window popping up. I don’t know about you, but three IM windows open when one’s chiming at me is frustrating! You’re sifting through cluttered windows, trying to find which one’s ding-ding-dinging at you.  Then another one starts…

That problem is gone in Lync 2013. Conversation windows open into a tabbed interface, like this:

Lync 2013 Tabbed Conversation Windows

Easy to switch between conversations on the left.

As you can see, the 2013 IM windows are less busy than Lync 2010′s as well. Each tab is still accessible via the taskbar, but they display your picture thumbnail so you know who’s talking.

The most-used options are all in place

In terms of overall organization, Lync 2013 is very similar to Lync 2010. Sort contacts by relationships, groups or status. Display Contacts, Conversations or the Phone. The Options menus are almost identical.

One caveat for the Options menu though: Under My Picture, you now have two options only: Show My Picture or Hide My Picture. There is an “Edit or Remove My Picture” button, but mine is disabled. Lync 2013 pulls your picture from Active Directory, and it’s from there that administrators control who can edit or remove their pictures directly.

Call Forwarding and Primary Device settings can be changed from the bottom toolbar, like in Lync 2010.

Lync 2013 Bottom Toolbar Options

Improvements to the main interface

The popup with a person’s name and contact options has changed. Now it’s a set of icons which appear over the contact’s name (but still in the main window) displaying the contact options. Like so:

Lync 2013 Contact Options Menu
Much better use of screen real estate.

Windows 8 Design: Not my favorite, but it’s smooth

Not a big fan of the Metro interface on Windows 8. But the Lync 2013 version is pretty decent. It gets out of your way, so you can use the client without bumbling around. Options don’t (generally) pop up extra windows, but slide into view on the same plane.

Verdict? Upgrade to Lync 2013 Right Now (even before Lync Server 2013!)

As I’ve demonstrated, Lync 2013 will connect to Lync Server 2010 with no difficulty. (Seriously, I made zero configuration changes. All pertinent connection and user information came straight over.)

It’s a fast, simple design that works in Lync’s favor pretty much 100%. Well worth an upgrade. You don’t even need to wait for Lync Server 2013!

(This review was just for Lync 2013, which ships are part of the new Office 2013 Suite. If my readers would like, I’ll do a rundown on Office 2013 in another post. Comment or email me with your questions!)

4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Marv Lipschultz  •  Nov 18, 2012 @1:37 pm

    Thanks for all the info.
    Didn”t I read somewhere that you can have tabbed conversations in Lync 2010?

  2. chris.williams  •  Nov 20, 2012 @12:48 am

    Hi Marv,

    You”re welcome. You read correctly; it is possible to have tabbed conversations in Lync 2010. Lync requires an add-on to do it though; it”s not native to the app, like Lync 2013.
    You can download the add-on at Microsoft Downloads: http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=26135

  3. Michael Vallejo  •  Dec 3, 2012 @11:44 pm

    Thank you for your post. I ran into an issue and would love your thoughts on it. I did much the same as you, installed the Lync 2013 client while maintaining our Lync Server 2010 back-end. I agree with all your observations and knew right away that we needed to get this client deployed out before we roll this out across the enterprise. The one issue I found is with the profile photo. Since we don”t utilize profile photos in AD, Exchange, or SharePoint (at this time) I just pointed my client to my LinkedIn profile pic. Now with the new 2013 client, the option to Edit or Remove Picture is grayed out. My Lync admin verified that there is no server side configuration to allow users to point to external URLs as we could do with the 2010 client. What are your thoughts?

  4. chris.williams  •  Dec 6, 2012 @6:55 am

    Michael,
    Unfortunately the option to select a picture hosted elsewhere has been removed in Lync 2013. It will only use pictures stored in Active Directory. Uploading a photo, and editing it, must be done there.

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    The Lync Insider is a blog about the technology we use to communicate in business today. Here we talk about Microsoft Lync Server 2013, its predecessor Lync Server 2010, Unified Communications, Voice over IP and related technologies like Exchange Server. Written by Chris W., Tech Writer & SEO Engineer for PlanetMagpie IT Consulting.
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