The Lync 2010 client for Windows Phone was released in the Windows Phone marketplace today. Being a big fan of Lync, I eagerly downloaded and ran it, only to be presented by the error :Unable to sign in. Can’t connect to the server”. I went into the manual configuration on the phone and tried to connect and still no dice.
Given that we are using Office 365, I checked in the community hub and found this post that indicated that there were were other users experiencing the same problem, but in their case, it was related to the fact that they were using the default “onmicrosoft.com” domain. However, there were some DNS instructions in the post that gave me a clue. Unfortunately, once I added the indicated DNS entry, I still had the same problem.
I decided to check the DNS settings for my domain in the Administration panel. and as it turns out, the DNS instructions have been updated since I had originally set up our Office 365. There are two CNAME entries that are required for the WP7 Lync application to work with Office 365:
Obviously, yourname.com should be replaced with your actual domain name.
Once I set these up, I was off to the races with my mobile Lync client.
It’s old news by now, but I didn’t want to write about this until I had a little usage under my belt. I’ve also been too busy to write, I have about 5 other posts queued up that I just need to get to, but I wanted to document my experience with my new Windows Phone 7.
In a nutshell, I absolutely love it. I couldn’t imagine going back.
I’ve been a Blackberry user since around 1996 with the original RIM 950. For years Blackberry was not only an innovator in mobile messaging, but their devices were rock solid. I don’t know how much abuse my Blackberries took over the years, including being dropped in water (yes that kind of water), dropped kicked, whatever. After a fall that cracked its window, my 8800 kept on ticking. The Blackberry was also top notch for message delivery through it’s BES for years. Other contenders came on the scene, but I always felt that all I wanted in a mobile device was email.
If you’re reading this, you know that I live in a Microsoft centric world,and although it would have been politically expedient of me to use a Windows Mobile device,I was never impressed with them. I was never tempted by the iPhone, which I regard as more of a toy than anything else. I was beginning to become interested in the Android, but remained leery from a reliability standpoint.
I was however becoming increasingly frustrated with the performance of the BlackBerry, particularly when it came to consuming web content, which was increasingly becoming a requirement. Web content was also very hard on the battery, and when travelling, I was lucky to get 8 hours without a charge. Another big cloud of doubt to me was the relevance of BES (Blackberry Enterprise Server) in a world of Exchange ActiveSync. It just seemed like way too much overhead and licensing to support mail/contact/calendar sync.
Everything changed when I heard about the Windows Phone 7 this past spring. Finally, Microsoft would have a product that not only competed, but in my opinion leapfrogged the competition. In my opinion, RIM wasn’t doing anything particularly innovative, so I resolved to try it out when it became available.
My biggest concern is that the vision that was spelled out in the original announcements wouldn’t be realized, or would be in some way compromised (we’ve seen this before from our friends in Redmond). I was thrilled to find that this wasn’t the case.
I received my Samsung Focus 2 1/2 weeks ago. I removed the SIM card from my Blackberry, put it in my Focus, and the Blackberry (a curve) hasn’t been turned on since. The first thing that I was asked was my Windows Live ID, and it immediately started to fill up with contacts and pictures from Facebook and Windows Live. A quick configure of 2 Exchange accounts (one on BPOS and one on premise) and everything was centralized nicely.
I have had precisely no problems with it in the past 2 weeks. Most interestingly to me, is that I’ve experienced no dropped calls in that period. My running joke was always that it wasn’t a mobile call unless it got dropped at least one. I always blamed the carrier, but I’m using the same SIM! It’s anecdotal, but the phone itself is at least good.
Working with office apps is very very slick. I particularly like the way that it works with OneNote content in the cloud (on Windows SkyDrive). In fact, the phone itself is a really nice demonstration of the overall benefits of cloud computing, in particular device independence. Combining the phone, the PC, and the new EXOPC slate that I recently acquired, makes for a pretty slick demonstration.
It’s not perfect – I have yet to be able to get the Office hub to talk to SharePoint, something pretty important to me…. but it does render nicely in the browser.
Reliability is of course something of a question mark yet. I have managed to drop it twice with no ill effects, and I’m not really anxious to put it to the test. I am however pretty hard on stuff, and if it’s fragile, you’ll likely hear it here first.
I just find myself pleasantly surprised by the way it works as I discover them, and that’s nice. It’s also pretty nice having something from Microsoft that’s pretty much the coolest thing in its space. At least for now. A big tip of the hat to the designers from here.
I don’t leave the Blackberry angry… it’s served me very very well over the years, but we appear to have gone our separate ways, and I wish it well. Given that I live in RIM’s back yard, it really is too bad, but I have made my choice, and I’m very, very happy with it.
A few weeks ago Microsoft made available the latest Beta version of Live Essentials. Most people I know use Windows Live Messenger (formerly MSN Messenger), and that’s all that Windows Live is to them. However, it’s much more than that. If you’ve installed Windows 7, you may have noticed that it no longer ships with a number of productivity applications (for example Movie Maker), All of the missing applications are available through Windows Live. There is a big difference though, in that these applications are all very much “Live Aware”, which is to say that they’re tightly coupled with your Windows Live profile and Live ID. I’ll dive into why that’s a good thing below.
To start with, Essentials Wave 4 consists of 9 Primary Components:
Messenger – This is of course the one most are familiar with. However, it’s very much new and improved, and I’ll talk about this in a bit more detail below.
Photo Gallery – Photo Gallery is the Microsoft application for organizing, tagging and cleaning up photos. This, to me is the absolute standout product of the suite,and I’ll explain why below
Mail – This replaces Windows Mail,which no longer ships with Windows. It allows you to hook in multiple email boxes (of course Hotmail is one option). If you currently use Outlook, you likely won’t use this, but it does work well, and it’s free for the non Office users.
Movie Maker – This application allows you to put together pictures and videos into a video presentation. It’s rudimentary (I personally use Premiere Pro from Adobe – but that’s WAY overkill for most users, not to mention difficult). It’s easy, slick, and will do the job in most cases.
Writer – This is the best blog authoring tool that I’ve come across. I’m using it right now to write this. It can author blog content for a very wide variety of blog providers, and this version brings in the (now) familiar ribbon interface. Connecting to Flickr, YouTube, Facebook, etc is an absolute snap now, as it benefits from the new integrated features of your Live profile.
Family Safety – From the site: “Manage and monitor your children”s Internet activity so they can surf the web more safely”. I personally don’t use it, so I have no comment, but it’s there.
Bing Toolbar – I hate toolbars – they’re allowed nowhere near my PC. If you like them, I’m sure this one is wonderful, but I wouldn’t know.
Messenger Companion – This is a little plug in to IE that lets you know when any of your friends share a link (they don’t need to be Messenger or Live friends). It’s also a quick way of sharing a page that you happen to be viewing.
Sync – If you’ve ever hear of Live Mesh, this is it. This allows you to take a folder on your PC, and keep it synchronized with a SkyDrive folder and/or a folder on another PC that you may use. This works seamlessly in the background, and is excellent for sharing with teams, working with multiple computers, or just making sure that you always have access to current data wherever you are. It is however limited to 2 GB, which to me, is pretty low. I would expect to see that increased in the future. SkyDrive itself allows for 25 GB, so why can’t I use some of that allocation?
These applications are great, in and of themselves, but the real power lies with their tight integration with your live account, and correspondingly, its tight integration with other social networks. Windows Live is Microsoft’s consumer facing social networking offering, but they seem to have taken a different approach than you may have expected from them in the past. They know that they’ll never get as many subscriptions as Facebook, and that the value of a network lies primarily with the number of its nodes, so they seem to have taken an “embrace, not replace strategy. Sure, all of the basic social network capabilities are there, a friends list, news feed, photos, etc. However if your friends use Facebook, no problem – we’ll just incorporate them. MySpace? Flickr, Linked in? No problem, they’ll come in too, and you get one big friends list, and feed that is relatively source agnostic.
Windows Messenger hooks right into that list. So now, instead of a relatively dead list of names, here’s what the new Messenger screen looks like:
You can seen that your friends news feed is there, from every network that you are connected to. You can update your status, which again gets broadcast to all connected networks. You have access to all of your Live content via the Social menu at the top, and all of your friends are brought in on the right, and if they use Live Messenger, you can see their status or initiate an IM session, just like you used to.
Another stand out application is the new Photo Gallery. Yes it gets the nice ribbon interface, but it’s got a few VERY nice features. I’ve always struggles with getting my photos tagged with people efficiently (I’m currently working with a base of about 10,000 pictures), but this makes it a snap. Photo Gallery contains built in facial recognition algorithms, so that it can detect that a picture has faces in it, and that they need to be tagged. It will then extract the faces, and prompt you for who those people are.
Where does the list of available people come from? Why your amalgamated friends list of course. One interesting thing to note is that internally, if your friends names are slightly different between networks, it maintains an internal map to keep everything straight, so when you post to pictures to Facebook for example, users are all tagged correctly.
The real power though comes from the fact that not only does it recognize faces, it recognizes particular faces. Once you tag the same name a few times, the software can offer suggestions, if you go into batch people tagging mode
The recognition is amazing, and while not perfect, it nails it most of the time. It’s interesting to see it recognize the same face over a number of ages, or to see it get confused by look alike relatives.
Tagging is a breeze this way, and all of the tags are respected when sending to any of the social networks. Which networks? Well, any of the ones that you have linked your Live profile to that support pictures. You can really see the power of the integration features here, and the addition of another service will only bring that much more value to th
e platform. This is the beauty of the embrace not replace philosophy. Windows Live is really a solid social mashup platform, filling in gaps where any exist.
To take it one step further, Microsoft will be introducing its new Windows Phone 7 platform later this year. It promises to be an innovative product that changes the way we work with our content, and the way that your personal and business lives integrate. Many of the same concepts discussed above apply to the way that the Windows Phone 7 operates, and its primary means of integration will be your Windows Live profile. Paul Thurott of the SuperSite for Windows is currently writing a book on Windows Phone 7, and has shared his experiences of working with a development prototype. Simply logging in with your Windows Live ID brings all of the content discussed above right down to your phone, no muss, no fuss.
I don’t think that the new Live features, and the new Phone capabilities are a coincidence.I really like what I see developing in this space, and I’m very excited about trying out one of these new phones as soon as I can. In the meantime though, I have a few photos to tag and to post.