It has now been 1 week since I installed the Skype for Business Technical Preview client. Here’s what I learned.
I’m using a Lenovo Ultrabook Helix. Prior to installing Skype for Business I used Lync 2013 on this machine. The upgrade went through with no errors and a single reboot.
In the past week I’ve conducted:
- 9 IM conversations
- 4 Enterprise Voice calls
- 1 Lync Meeting/Skype Meeting
- 2 Persistent Chat sessions
- 2 file transfers
- 1 Video chat/call (as a test)
Overall, I’m surprised at just how similar to Lync 2013 this client is. Aside from the UI change, this operates so closely to Lync that I’m tempted to call it just a cosmetic update.
But that’s not entirely the case. True, we’ve talked more about backend changes than client-based on the blog (and I look forward to examining those in detail later on!). But the Skype for Business client has a few changes of its own.
Improvements over Lync, & What’s the Same
The following is a list of observations recorded throughout the week. Every time Skype4B 2015 did something different from Lync, or I caught myself performing a task exactly as I did in Lync, I made a note.
- IM windows are saving their sizes & screen positions now! This always bugged me with Lync; it kept forgetting my window sizes.
- The main client window stretched to a full-screen vertical column on load. I prefer a smaller “floating” window, but this isn’t much of an irritation. Adjustable anytime.
- Moving the Presence indicator to a circle at bottom-right is growing on me. I liked the left-side vertical bar, but the circle provides a slightly-faster recognition of Presence status.
- The custom Presence statuses I set back when I did this post: Lync Add-Ons: Lync Custom Status Tool
were preserved in the update! I still have “Wrestling a Wolverine” and “Assisting a Customer” (those ARE two separate things, I assure you…) among my Presence choices.
- There is a brief hesitation between clicking the Skype taskbar icon and the window popping up. Lync did the same thing. (I think it’s system-related.) No change in behavior here.
- File transfers to Lync 2013 users will break sometimes. It’s not consistent, and likely caused by the Technical Preview interfacing with a previous version (Lync 2013), but I’m noting it here.
- I like how quick in-window file transfers are to initiate.
- Options menus are almost exactly the same. (Seriously, I’m not finding any differences aside from the name “Skype for Business” where “Lync” was.)
I only experienced two instances of crashes, hangs or the dreaded “Not Responding” error.
- In Options, when clicking from “Video Devices” menu to “Audio Devices” menu (this temporarily enabled my webcam until closing Options).
- When adding video to my test video chat/call. The call froze and I had to reconnect. Once I did, it worked fine.
This suggests that the video portion of Skype for Business still has a few bugs.
Frankly, I expected MORE bugs in a Technical Preview. The fact that I only had these 2 issues was both perplexing and encouraging. My thought process went like this: “Okay, there’s one issue. Same issue from another angle too. Wait, is that it? Everything else is working fine. It’s a beta, there has to be…nope, that works too!”
DELAYS: Occasionally I did notice a slight delay in conversations. They only occurred when adding services (e.g. file transfers, video) to an existing IM conversation. Most likely a result of network hiccups, possibly sprinkled with a bit of inter-version communications. It was not significant enough to frustrate me or cause me to note them as a bug.
Final Impression: Can I Keep Skype for Business?
I’m impressed by how smooth the Skype for Business client has been. The Technical Preview is scheduled to end April 30 (Skype for Business 2015 is slated for release sometime in April). I will be sad if I have to switch back to Lync 2013, even if it’s only temporary.
In fact, let me make a recommendation. If you do use Lync Server 2013 now, and you plan to upgrade to Skype for Business? Transition the clients first. This client app will work with Lync Server, and it gives you time to familiarize users to the new UI.
Have you tested the Skype for Business Technical Preview yet? What were your observations? Please comment or email.