Category: Skype for Business

July 19th, 2018 by Skype for Business News Aggregator

Beginning today, Microsoft Teams is available in a free version worldwide in 40 languages. This offer was designed for small businesses and groups of coworkers that don’t have commercial Office 365 subscriptions. Now with this great introductory experience, any group can use Teams as their hub for teamwork and discover the value of Office 365 as they grow and scale.Teams Composite .png



Whether you’re a freelancer, a small business owner, or part of a team inside a larger organization, you can start using Teams today. The free version includes the following for up to 300 people:

  • Unlimited chat messages and search.
  • Built-in audio and video calling for individuals, groups, and full team meetups.
  • 10 GB of team file storage plus additional 2 GB per person for personal storage.
  • Integrated, real-time content creation with Office Online apps, including built-in Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote.
  • Unlimited app integrations with 140+ business apps to choose from—including Adobe, Evernote, and Trello.
  • Ability to communicate and collaborate with anyone inside or outside your organization, backed by Microsoft’s secure, global infrastructure.

Check out the latest Microsoft Mechanics video to learn more about this free version of Teams.

When you’re managing a new project or creating your own business, it helps to have your team behind you to brainstorm ideas, tackle the work together, and have some fun along the way. Take your teamwork to the next level and start using Teams today.

What features are available in the free version of Microsoft Teams?
The free version includes the following for up to 300 people.
Unlimited chat messages and search.
Built-in audio and video calling for individuals, groups, and full team meetups.
10 GB of team file storage plus additional 2 GB per person for personal storage.
Integrated, real-time content creation with Office Online apps, including built-in Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote.
Unlimited app integrations with 140+ business apps to choose from—including Adobe, Evernote, and Trello.
Ability to communicate and collaborate with anyone inside or outside your organization, backed by Microsoft’s secure, global infrastructure.

Who’s eligible for the free version of Microsoft Teams?
Any person with any corporate or consumer email address can sign up for Teams today. People who don’t already have a paid Office 365 commercial subscription will have access to the free version of Teams. If an existing Office 365 commercial customer tried to sign up for free, they will be routed into a managed experience for their existing tenant. Existing customers who don’t have a Teams license as part of their Office 365 or Microsoft plan will soon be eligible for a 1 year free trial.

Where can I go to learn more?
For a full list of what’s available in Microsoft Teams for free, visit

Posted in Skype for Business

July 19th, 2018 by Skype for Business News Aggregator

The new features and improvements to Microsoft Teams keep flying in, here are 9 new updates for July.

Live events in Microsoft Teams for up to 10,000 attendees



Microsoft Teams live events is now in public preview, allowing users to plan, produce, and broadcast events right in Microsoft Teams.

A live event delivers one-to-many video and content streaming to a large online audience while providing centralized control of the shared attendee experience. Live events now empower every organizer, from Microsoft Teams users all the way to webcasting professionals.  Attendees can join the experience where they are: through Stream, in Yammer or in Teams.

How to enable:


Share a PowerPoint into a meeting rather than desktop sharing

This is more bandwidth efficient than desktop sharing.


In a meeting click share:

  • The PowerPoint section lists the most recent files you’ve opened or edited in your team SharePoint site or your OneDrive. If you select one of these files to present, all meeting participants will be able to view the slides during the meeting. Their access permissions to the file outside of the meeting won’t change.
  • If you select Browse and choose to present a PowerPoint file that hasn’t been uploaded to Teams before, it will get uploaded as part of the meeting. If you’re presenting in a channel meeting, the file is uploaded to the Files tab in the channel, where all team members will have access to it. If you’re presenting in a private meeting, the file is uploaded to your OneDrive, where only the meeting participants will be able to access it.


Translate chat messages

The world is our workplace here at Teams, so we’re loving this feature. At the top of a message, select More options More options button > Translate to get an instant translation of the message into the language you’ve set for Teams! Très cool.

Mark has done a great post on how to enable this here:




Send code snippets in a message

You’re now able to create and share a snippet of code right in a chat or channel message. Get syntax highlighting, auto-indentation, and text wrapping control, all in the programming language of your choice! To try it, look under the compose box, then select Format  Expand button > Code snippet </>.





Get important notifications while in Do not Disturb mode

Even when you need to set your status to Do not disturb, there are still some calls and 1:1 chats you don’t want to miss. You can now give priority access to certain people or numbers, from bosses to besties. This means you’ll get notifications about calls and 1:1 chats from these people while you’re set to Do not disturb. To set it up, click your profile pic > Settings > Privacy and follow the prompts.



Bring your Skype for Business contacts to Teams

When your organization moves from Skype for Business to Teams, your contacts will make the move with you. To see them, once you’re in Teams, click Chat on the left, then Contacts at the top.



Updated keyboard shortcuts for Microsoft Teams



Join a team with a code

Send people a code to join your team— Next to a team name, click More options More options button> Get link or code and follow the prompts. Tell people to click Join or create a team at the bottom of their teams list, then plug the code into the Join a team with a code box at the top. This works with public and private teams.


Up to 250 participants in meetings

Moving up from 80 to 250, the same as Skype for Business



The post 9 New Microsoft Teams Features, Meetings and Chat Improvements appeared first on Tom Talks.

From Tom Talks UC at

Posted in Skype for Business

July 19th, 2018 by Skype for Business News Aggregator

Are you looking for the perfect tools to help you manage your information? Our free webinar “5 Steps for Successful Records Management in Office 365 and SharePoint” takes place on Wednesday, July 25 at 11:00 AM. Register today!

One of the most common questions arising from those of us living in the Office 365 ecosystem boils down to differences and use cases for using SharePoint Online versus OneDrive for Business. Which should you use?

You use both. They have notably different use cases and you should employ them in the way they’re really meant to be used. And it’s not difficult at all to juggle the two apps. Once you know how to use them, you’ll never go back.

What’s Similar Between the Two?

OneDrive and SharePoint have the same underlying design and features. In fact, OneDrive is actually just a single document library in a single SharePoint site collection but with a different logo. They both support:

  • Office Online
  • File sizes up to 15 GB
  • Co-authoring (simultaneous editing)
  • Version history
  • File sharing (both internal and external)
  • Mobile device access
  • Local syncing of files to your devices

The main difference? OneDrive doesn’t support metadata. But metadata, even if you love it, isn’t really necessary in your OneDrive because you generally know your own folder hierarchy.

When to Use OneDrive

OneDrive is meant for personal storage. Each person in your organization gets their own OneDrive. Each OneDrive account usually comes with at least 1 TB of space (that’s…a lot). OneDrive is perfect for these types of files:

  1. Those that you only want for you. Likely personal (but still work-related) files that shouldn’t be shared; and
  2. Drafts of files you’re not yet ready to move to a SharePoint library for collaborative input or reviews.

OneDrive is perfect for these types of files...
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You can collaborate in OneDrive, but it’s strongly discouraged. Sharing at the file or folder level quickly becomes a permissions nightmare. Additionally, when someone leaves an organization, their OneDrive is typically retired within 30 days. If your team is using that space to collaborate, those files may end up going away eventually, grinding you to a halt in the process.

So basically, if you’re saving files specific to you or drafting files before you plan to move them to SharePoint for input, reviews, or simply making them available to your team, OneDrive is your place. If you don’t meet any of these criteria, use SharePoint.

When to Use SharePoint

SharePoint is best used in two ways: for collaborating on files with others, and for publishing files for everyone to see. Team sites are great for collaborating, while communication sites are perfect for publishing.

Team sites generally have few users but most (if not all) have editing access; you’re doing work, so why hinder them with permissions restrictions? Team sites are for getting work done. They’re also the file storage location behind Outlook Groups, Yammer, and Teams. Team sites are for the team’s stuff.

Guide: SharePoint and Flow Integration (Part 1)

Communication sites are usually accessible to almost everyone in the organization, but those people only have read access. You generally have a few people who have access to uploading, editing, and deleting published files.

A good example is the corporate policies listing. Local owners of those files can update the policies when necessary, but most visitors to the site are only there to read the policies and shouldn’t be able to edit. Communication sites are for everyone’s stuff.


How to Juggle the Two

There’s a simple set of guidelines to follow that I call the Document Circle of Life. Feel free to start drafting your file in OneDrive for Business. When you’re ready, move your file to your SharePoint team site where colleagues will provide input and review.

When the file is completed and ready to be shared, publish the file to a communication site (if it’s meant for wide distribution) or to the team site (if it’s something like a template for your team to use later). Keep a working copy in your team site so updates are easy to make and kept private from the rest of the world while you work on any revisions.

Take a look at the infographic below, the Document Circle of Life, to see a workflow layout of this concept. If you stick by this to start, you should see people using SharePoint and OneDrive correctly. And if your organization has more unique needs, you can use this as a starting point for file creation, collaboration, and sharing governance.

Hungry for more “Which Tool When” posts? Subscribe to our blog to stay up to date.

Posted in Skype for Business

July 19th, 2018 by Skype for Business News Aggregator

With last weeks announcement of a free version of Microsoft Teams there’s a video published with Dan Stevenson from Microsoft featured on the Microsoft Mechanics show.

Here’s a summary of the video, hope you its useful.

Watch the video here




Microsoft Teams has been around a while now with Office 365 subscriptions but there a new way to get it.

Dan talks around there is now a new FREE way to start using Microsoft Teams !  your a small business or group of people together.

Sign up for free walkthrough

Microsoft have a sign up page at


at the sign up page i can compares the differences between free and paid subscriptions.

To sign up for free simply click the sign up for free button


Enter your email address


answer a few questions about yourself

after this your new free Teams environment is setup !

Dan shows us one he’s created earlier


Here’s teams free and Dan’s example Teams of Contoso Sheep Farm

We have all the features you expect from Teams with features and channels, chat, stickers

When you first come into Teams Free your asked to add a bunch of people which Dan has done and the people have been added

Dan walks us over adding Jeremy into the Sheep Farm team


add the email address for the person you want to add, which will send out an invite


Lets check out what Jeremy sees


Jeremy has the invite and can see Dan invited him

Click join Teams


Click Accept


Open in web app or download the Teams client

Jeremy can see the Team


Can we also do Video based Chat or Screen sharing ?

Yes, basically core features of paid Teams.

Mobile apps work for free as well.

Taken from Tech Community post

The free version includes the following for up to 300 people:

  • Unlimited chat messages and search.
  • Built-in audio and video calling for individuals, groups, and full team meetups.
  • 10 GB of team file storage plus additional 2 GB per person for personal storage.
  • Integrated, real-time content creation with Office Online apps, including built-in Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote.
  • Unlimited app integrations with 140+ business apps to choose from—including Adobe, Evernote, and Trello.
  • Ability to communicate and collaborate with anyone inside or outside your organization, backed by Microsoft’s secure, global infrastructure.

Who’s eligible for the free version of Microsoft Teams?

Any person with any corporate or consumer email address can sign up for Teams today. People who don’t already have a paid Office 365 commercial subscription will have access to the free version of Teams. If an existing Office 365 commercial customer tried to sign up for free, they will be routed into a managed experience for their existing tenant.

What’s the differences with Paid ?

  • can have more than 300 users
  • scheduled meetings
  • Phone Calling
  • Dial In conferencing
  • Power of Exchange
  • 1Tb storage
  • Office client apps depending on SKU
  • Upgrade full set of IT, compliance and control, dev option, support and uptime.


What’s new for developers ?

working on integrating SharePoint app platform into Teams

There’s updates to PowerShell and Graph API for Teams


improvements to managing Teams lifecycle


and updates to the Microsoft Teams and Skype for Business admin centre


finally compliance and security are important and there’s been update for Teams



Can we see these updates in actions ?

Here we are in the Store


made it possible to have personal access for apps such as planner


I can publish LOB Apps into the store for users to see


We have different LOB apps, expenses, Hiring, third party app Intumit SmartO (O365 helpdesk), NEO (a new employee app) and time off app.

how easy to build apps ?

Head over to the Teams App Studio


superhub for building app manifest and preview code


Control Library


once done i can export config for my app and do the coding in vs code


Code for the NEO app for Q and A apps for new employees

Im using Lewis which uses text analysis and natural language

adaptive cards for bot responses


Actions to send


Here’s the app in Teams


I asked how’s my HR contact

I mentioned i lost my badge and have a options displayed


can type handbook and pull up the employee handbook



displayed as interactive card and have to accept and confirm acceptance of terms

Open the handbook up


The office 365 helpdesk app

Can ask questions to the helpdesk app and get responses


The hiring app


Chat with bot and keep on top of interview status


That’s a quick taste of what you can do with LOB apps in Teams.

For more info and code samples check out


What happens if your not a coder and want to build apps for Teams ?

We can connect Microsoft Forms thorough Flow into Teams and Text analysis engine to catch any negative comments quickly.


basic form to ask some questions


now we have connected this to Flow and piping the responses into AI text and scoring it


if sentiment if negative posting a message into the HR channel in Teams


Run through of the form and adding a negative sentiment to test it out


click submit


and lets see what happens in Teams


Message landed in Teams

Go to survey Results


Can i automate Teams for provisioning ?

Yes, we have powerful PowerShell cmdlet and updated graph APIs


Using Teams and PowerShell to create a Team


adding users


installing the NEO app


Run Script in PowerShell and create a Team


creates teams, channel and adds users


Jeremy has added to the new Team and lets see what Jeremy sees now


I see the Team


can also do private chat with NEO as well



What are we doing to manage the lifecycle of Teams ?

easy to create who can create a team, Dan recommends leaving open as much as possible so it doesn’t prevent collaboration, controls with admin with naming policies.

Im not allowed to create a teams named Payroll or Finance


We can also but naming conventions and prefixes in as well


To learn more go to

From the site above you do need AAD P1 licence


Once Teams is up and running we recommend company create team champions

When you want to retire a Team you can now archive a Team

In the manage Team UI you can see your active Teams and chose to Archive



Select Archive and this puts the Team into Read Only Mode, content still there and we can restore it

Sometimes there’s too many teams and now there is expiration and renewal policies now where admins.

Teams owners can accept they are still using the Teams otherwise it gets deleted and after 30 days permanently deleted.

Here’s how to set the expiration Policies over in the Azure Portal


You can choose time frame and apply to one group, all or none.

Extra admin options on the Teams and SfB Admin centre


Under users you can see Call Quality


And under activity


drill in device and network issues

back to accounts you can see custom policies assigned


can drill into meeting policy


As an admin we can set custom policies

Other updates rolling out which will bring us pretty much on parity with SfBO with new feature for calling and PowerPoint sharing

Beyond that though

Cloud recording

Screen sharing from iPad

Live camera feed into meetings

Direct routing so you can bring your own PSTN into Teams


How do existing SfBO users move to Teams ?

All in the admin centre,

We can look at migration policies for user


i can change the upgrade mode for users instead of the org wide settings


Teams has interop with Teams and lots of companies running Team and SfB side by Side and moving to teams only

check out more at


more updates on previous episode with Anne Michels over at



Learn more

Sign up at

for devs

plan your migration from SfB to Teams


Don’t forget to subscribe to Mechanics as well Smile

Posted in Skype for Business

July 19th, 2018 by Skype for Business News Aggregator
By Beth Schultz
Gives IT single pane of glass for managing Skype for Business and Teams performance and adoption insight, plus adds machine learning to prioritize IT tasks.

Posted in Skype for Business

July 19th, 2018 by Skype for Business News Aggregator

Microsoft recently published a technet article outlining the different ways to migrate away from Skype for Business to Microsoft Teams. The article currently contains 5 different migration methods. Lets take a closer look at each of them, and how they might be used within your organisation.

The 5 migration methods

They say good things come in three’s, but in this case they come in five! Five different methods of moving from SfB to Microsoft Teams. When it comes to migration planning, choice is a good thing


Migration Method 1: Skype for Business with Teams Collaboration

Ok, so you have a Skype for Business deployment right now, and are looking at moving to Teams. The problem is that Teams just doesn’t meet your requirements right now. This could be due to:

  • Running custom SfB applications such as a call centre app, or on premise UCMA/UCWA app.
  • Teams is missing a feature that you currently use in Skype for Business

If this is you and your goal is to adopt Teams quickly, you can easily start using Teams for collaboration. Your users can quickly faimilarise themselves with Teams and how they can use it to work with colleagues on documents in SharePoint and OneDrive, as well as sharing ideas within their newly created Teams and Channels.


  • No overlapping capabilities between Teams and Skype for Business.
  • Instant messaging and chat will reside in Skype for Business (tied to calling).


  • None!


Migration Method 2: Skype for Business with Teams Collaboration and Meetings.

Maybe you already have a Skype for Business deployment with significant use of enterprise voice, but right now some of your calling requirements aren’t yet met by Teams calling (such as a third party meeting service).

If this sounds like you, consider enabling Teams for Collaboration as well as Meetings. Existing Skype for Business scheduled meetings will work as normal, but users will be able to create new meetings within Teams.


  • Start Teams adoption quickly, going beyond group collaboration.
  • Improve your users’ meetings experience.


  • Instant messaging and chat will reside in Skype for Business (tied to calling)


Migration Method 3: Islands – The default option

If you choose to do nothing, Office 365 enables “Islands” mode by default.

Both Skype for Business and Teams continue to run within their own “island” and all features and functions are enabled within both products.

You may consider this approach if you’re running a PoC with a number of users, and want them to experience the full range of Teams features whilst still having the ability to use Skype for Business.

Of course, without the right user adoption and communications, things can get messy fast. Be sure that your communication around how each product should be used is solid.


  • Simple to operate, no interoperability.
  • Best Teams experience up-front for all capabilities


  • Requires good user communication to avoid confusion and to drive usage toward Teams.
  • Exit strategy requires users to have fully adopted Teams by the time Skype for Business is   decommissioned.


Migration Method 4: Teams only.

Alright, so you’re ready to take the plunge and use Microsoft Teams. Of course, you may still have users using Skype for Business on premise, but you want all of your cloud based users to use Teams.


  • Limits user confusion by providing only one client to work with.


  • Interoperability only supports basic chat and calling between Skype for Business and Teams


Migration Method 5: Skype for Business only

And lastly, you may choose to avoid Teams (for now at least), and wish to stick with Skype for Business only.

Keep in mind that at some point you’re going to need to make the move to Teams anyway, but at least you still have the option for now.


  • Continue to meet business requirements that currently can only be met by Skype for Business.


  • Interoperability only supports basic chat and calling between Skype for Business and Teams.


Upgrade Journeys

Still following? Good. Maybe go and grab a coffee. Don’t worry, i’ll wait. Ok, you’re back? Let’s push on.

There are two recommended upgrade journeys, one “simple” and the other .. not so much.

Simple Upgrade

If you like keeping things simple (and who doesn’t), there’s a three step process of Selecting users for a  PoCEnabling Teams Collaboration ModeEnabling Teams-Only Mode

That process is outlined in the below graphic:

This is a nice and simple way of selecting your users based upon their job roles (and their eagerness for change), then slowly introducing them to Teams before enabling Teams only mode for them.


Gradual Upgrade

I hope you’ve finished that coffee! The other recommended upgrade path is the gradual path. I’ll give you a moment to absorb the below graphic:

As you can see, it is possible to migrate different users at different rates. You may choose to move IT into Teams only mode quickly, but choose to move HR and Sales at a slower pace. Which ever method you choose, you’ll more than likely want to end up in a Teams Only mode.


Upgrade Scenarios

Alright. At this point you’re probably saying “That’s great Craig. I have a choice. 5 choices to be exact. But uh … which one do I choose?”.

Great question! Of course, you’ll need to have a think about how your organisation responds to change, and how you’ll equip your userbase to start using and adopting Microsoft Teams. The below may help steer you in the right direction, though!


Scenario 1: I’m Running Pure Skype For Business Online

In short, move to Teams. You’re not using any custom applications or have any on premise servers to deal with. Sort your user adoption comms out, select some users for a PoC and get them up and running with Teams.

Once everyone is trained and happy, enable Teams Only.


Scenario 2: I have Cloud Connector Edition (CCE) deployed

Firstly, kudos. CCE is an awesome product. Secondly,  You’re in a great position to deploy Direct Routing to Microsoft Teams to continue using your existing Sonus or Audiocodes SBC and Phone company.

Consider the approach of enabling Teams in Collaboration and Meeting only mode first of all. you’ll be able to continue using CCE to route calls to Skype for Business as well as direct routing to route calls to Teams.


Scenario 3: Skype for Business Hybrid with Sfb / Teams Online

This one is a popular scenario. The good news is you have many options available to you. You could enable Skype for Business with Teams collaboration–only mode, Skype for Business with Teams collaboration and meetings mode, keep Islands mode enabled or jump ship and enable Teams-only mode.

Keep in mind that your existing on premise SfB users will be unaffected by this change. Only your cloud users will be able to communicate with Teams users, and vice versa.

Work to create a plan of moving as many (or all) users from SfB on premise to SfB online, and then to Teams. Leave only those users that absolutely must remain on premise (because of specific SfB on premise requirements).


Scenario 4: Skype for Business Server on premise – no Hybrid

There’s good news for you. Microsoft have announced Skype for Business server 2019 for on premise, which we’re told will help you to eventually move your users to Office 365 and Microsoft Teams.

If you have no desire to move users to Office 365 or to Teams, consider upgrading your Skype for Business on premise environment to 2019, once it’s released.


Next Steps

Microsoft have outlined the steps mentioned above in their own technet post, which can be found here:



Posted in Skype for Business

July 19th, 2018 by Skype for Business News Aggregator

Application Sharing Failures after Applying July, 10 2018 Windows Security Fixes – NextHop…Your resource for Skype for Business!
— Read on

Posted in Skype for Business

July 18th, 2018 by Skype for Business News Aggregator

Microsoft Teams is really taking off now with organizations seriously considering how they can best take advantage of the technology offered by this product.

There is certainly a lot of activity around meeting experiences with various vendors coming to trade shows with their shiny new device for Teams meetings. But being a techie it is easy to get carried away with the technology rather than the functional use of it. That can lead to bad purchases and the technology not meeting the basic business requirements.

It is important that you first define your requirements before going to market and getting test units and involving vendors in pre-sales because you’ll find yourself getting inadvertently led towards a product(s) that might not be what you need.

Starting from the beginning, you need to perform an audit of your meeting rooms. Even if you think you know them, do it again. Yes this may be a large task with seemingly little in return on effort, but trust me you will learn a lot about how your users have been using meeting rooms. This seems a simple task, but the biggest issue you are going to face is gaining access to a room during business hours. After all you cannot walk into the senior executives financial results meeting and whip out your tape measure! But persevere because it is worth it!

As you walk around, you need to measure because you will need to measure the dimensions of the room. This is important because you need to consider how the room may be used. Yes the room may have 4 seats, but how many times have you gone to a meeting in a room too small to accommodate the attendees and it’s standing room only?   You need to account for the fact that the room maybe over subscribed, but from a user’s perspective they don’t understand and just expect perfect experience regardless.

You also need to consider what is in the room. A bare room with a table and chairs is going to be problematic where voice quality is concerned. What will happen is that your voice will bounce of all the walls and the microphone will pick that up. There will be a couple of milliseconds of delay between the microphone picking up your actual voice and your reflected voice. The end result is that the people on the other end of the line are going to hear an echo or hollow sound and this can be very distracting for them.

In order to reduce unwanted echo you need to consider the furniture in the room. A well insulated room or rooms with solid walls are more prone to voice reflection than rooms with hollow walls because with hollow walls a portion of sound can disperse through the wall, whereas brick is much denser and is a natural reflector. To combat this consider putting in some plants or other ornaments that can be used to absorb  / disperse sound before it is reflected. Ferns are a good plant because they are dense and provide lots of angles to reflect sound back on different vectors. The microphone is similar to radar in that in order to get a response the reflection must travel back on the same vector the sound was transmitted on. If this is disrupted then the microphone will find it harder to pick up the reflected sound. Think of your fern tree as Audio Conferencing Stealth technology! Of course, plants and ornaments are good absorbers, but you can do a little bit with the dedicated furniture as well, using cushioned chairs combined with how you position those chairs for people to sit at can play an important role in reducing echo.

As you go through the audit, you will notice that some devices that you have provided are disconnected, or appear that they haven’t been used in anger for some time. Obviously a key indicator that devices aren’t used are if they are disconnected on the floor, missing or shoved to once side in a pile of mess. If this is the case, then you may want to evaluate if it is worth the investment to replace that room with a Teams device or not. How you determine this is something that you will need to come up with, but perhaps surveying the users in the immediate office on their usage and if they are happy is a good start.

Now that you have completed your audit and you’ve gathered some intelligence on how the rooms are being actively used you need to define your upgrade strategy.

Are you replacing like for like as in the room has a device so therefore it is getting a new device. Or are you going to be more conservative?

To help you need to consider how your user’s habits will change from traditional use of a VoIP system to a unified communication system where their device is the phone and conferencing equipment. You will find that many 3 or 4 person conferences that used to take place in a meeting huddle room for instance will be reduce to almost zero in favour of “at-desk” conferencing where these users remain at their desks and use Teams meetings with their device.

You will also see an increase of unlikely meeting locations due to the fact that Microsoft Teams gives the user’s far more mobility, sitting on steps, grabbing a coffee in the canteen. sitting on the grass outside the office, standing in stairwells etc. you name it, you will find a person there at one stage on a Teams call. A portion of these conversations happening in transient and mobile space would have traditionally been room based conversations.

It could be that you decide small meeting rooms do not get a device, and simply provide users with the appropriate peripheral. It could be that you don’t provide anything at all and classify these rooms as physical meeting presence capability only. Or if you do need to provide a device then choose something that is budget friendly and adequate for the room.

Room types differ from customer to customer, site to site. Typically though you’ll classify them into one of 5 categories

  1. Pod
  2. Huddle
  3. Think Tank
  4. Board Room
  5. Executive Video Conferencing Suite


A pod is a classification we can give to communal areas where there may be screened seating with a desk. Pods typically accommodate 1 to 4 people. These meeting areas are usually in public places and offer limited privacy. As a result, these areas or logical rooms would not receive any telephony or meeting capability. They may include a TV screen for connectivity to a user’s laptop but generally wouldn’t be used for online meeting hosting. Another point to note is that due to no physical boundary like a wall, then it would be disrespectful to other workers in the area for a conference to be in progress in a booth next to them.

If a pod was used as a location to join a conference, then private peripherals (headset) should be used and encouraged.


Huddle rooms are your typical small meeting rooms that contain usually a circular or square desk with limited seating of between 3 and 6 people.  The room dimensions may be small some, only 3 x 3m. These rooms are typically used for short duration focused meetings where physical participation is small but the online audience may be of any size.

There are many devices for this type of room, both audio and video devices. You need to decide what service you want to offer as a standard and if any location warrants an upgraded service e.g. huddle rooms close to executive offices for instance will probably need audio and video capability, while standard rooms may just need audio, or in some cases nothing at all.

Whatever device you choose, whether it be a conference device, a phone with speaker or a huddle integrated video system there is one thing that you need to pay particular attention to and that is the microphone capability of the devices you are choosing as a standard. It is often a mistake to assume any device will do but taking the time to understand microphone pickup and operation fields will help you choose the best device for the room and achieve optimum quality of experience.

In this example of a huddle room, we have a circular desk with a device located in the center. This device has an omnidirectional microphone with a 3m maximum pickup range. This microphone is perfect for this type of room because it has complete 360 degree range and that means anyone talking around the table will be equally heard. For huddle rooms seating 5 or 6 people in this configuration a cardioid microphone would not be suitable. The downside of an omnidirectional microphone is because it can pickup sound 3m away in any direction, it is not great at filtering out unwanted sound and this is why it is unsuitable for rooms larger than the huddle classification.

Think Tank

Think Tank is a classification that I give towards meeting rooms that accommodate 10-15 people and is a medium sized room somewhere between 7 x 5 meters. In this room classification we are more likely to find rectangular desking with a TV or smart room device installed at the head of the table.  Again thinking about the microphone capability, the configuration would look something like this

For this style of room an omnindirectional microphone would pick up far too much background noise. More people = more sound intentional or otherwise. Also Omnidirectional microphones have very limited range because typically the device can only carry one. Therefore the range is symmetric from that device. Instead we need cardioid microphones. These provide 180 degrees of coverage focused in a particular direction. These microphones allow the device to target specific areas of the room while reducing the background noise from other angles. It also means that the device can carry more than one microphone. Some devices have two, but the common denominator is three cardioid microphones positioned in a triangle for maximum coverage.

Microphones in these devices vary in technology, but the best ones use all three microphones to best represent the sound someone is making. One microphone will be active as the device intelligently works out the source direction where the sound is coming from and shuts off the other two microphones and they place a part in noise cancellation. By having three microphones, these devices can pickup sound from between 4 and 6m in each direction from the device which make it capable of supporting this type of room.

Board Room

Board rooms are large meeting rooms that can contain anywhere from 15 to 25 people. Typically a long rectangular desk. These rooms are just a bigger version of the think tank rooms so we need to look at extending the microphone capabilities.

In this case we would look at the same or similar device to the one deployed to the Think Tank rooms, but this device should support additional microphones to extend the reach of sound pickup capability. In the above picture we have a central device with 3 cardioid microphones and an extension microphone either side of it. These provide extended coverage and can often increase the reach of the device from 6m to 18m end to end in any direction.

Executive Video Conferencing Suites

These you don’t come across unless you work for a very large organization. These are dedicated rooms that have integrated video and sound capabilities. By this they will have multiple displays, a powerful HD camera and ceiling microphone booms or dedicated microphones per seat

These suites require dedicated equipment. Typically you would involve a vendor to install and then you would provide integration capability to Microsoft Teams through a video interop solution.

There are some curve balls as well. One of the biggest that challenge any refresh program and device selection is the layout of the room. Up to now we have spoken about one dimensional room configurations. They are easy to source devices for. However, for room layouts that are in an open square or U shaped desking, these configurations are a nightmare for conference device selection. Both these configurations by design almost demand a ceiling mounted microphone solution because there is no optimum placement of a ground device.

You could experiment with the configurations available to you with devices that support multiple microphones but this would be trial and error to some degree.

The best idea I can give you is to challenge the room layout to meet the capabilities of the device being installed. If this is not possible, then perhaps you evaluate the effectiveness of the device in that room vs the investment costs, therefore, exclude from any telephony requirement. In most cases layouts in open square or U shaped are geared towards meetings that are physical and have very little to no online requirement, The shape of the room is telling you that the people that use this tend to work together within the same room rather than talking to a bunch of people online.

I hope that this post helps you decide what devices you need and remember tech is brilliant, only when it is fit for purpose, otherwise it is just an expensive ornament.

Posted in Skype for Business

July 18th, 2018 by Skype for Business News Aggregator

Never Miss a Skype for Business Notification Again

In early 2016 I wrote a post titled, Making Sure You See Skype for Business Notifications—No Matter What!.

In said post I reviewed a notification app called SuperToast, made by Modality Systems. It remains one of the blog’s most-read posts today. Evidently lots of Skype for Business users miss notifications…

The other day, Louise at Modality asked if I’d like to review the new, redeveloped SuperToast V3. Of course I was happy to do so!

What is SuperToast?

The SuperToast app sits in your taskbar. Every time you miss a Skype for Business call or Instant Message, SuperToast displays a notification popup with details about the missed event.

Chat Notification
Someone is chatting with me!

SuperToast notifies you of missed Instant Messages, incoming audio/video calls, and missed audio/video calls.

Missed Call Notification
Can’t talk now, writing this post.

The notification windows only displays the first message someone sends. If for example you receive 4 messages in succession from one person (as my co-workers sometimes do), you’ll only see one SuperToast notification. Which is smart—nobody wants a stream of popup windows blocking other work!

The SuperToast settings could not be simpler. Here’s the entire settings window.

SuperToast Settings
The SuperToast Options window. Five settings. Nothing else needed.

You choose which communication types for which you want to receive SuperToast notifications via checkboxes. That’s it.

What’s New in V3

The new SuperToast has two main improvements over old versions.

  1. Full support for the latest Skype for Business clients.
  2. Bug Fixes:
    1. Notifications appearing despite you being active in the conversation window
    2. Not bringing the conversation window to the front when clicking on a notification

The UI is largely the same as before. Which helped it fold back into my day-to-day routine almost immediately. But after a few weeks’ testing, I can say V3 is more stable now.

Two Versions: Single-Use and Business-Wide

SuperToast comes in two versions:

  • SuperToast One is a single-user version.
  • SuperToast for Business is a business version with central management.

SuperToast One has a few limitations the Business version doesn’t. You can’t customize SuperToast One’s look & feel, no central admin, etc. Pretty much what you’d expect for a single-user.

SuperToast One costs $7/year. SuperToast for Business costs $7/year for 5-99 users, $5/year for 100-999 users, $2.50/year for 1000-2499 users, and $1/year for 2500+ users. So no matter which version you buy, or how many, you’re only paying a few dollars a user per year. You even get 24-hour support with this too.

They used to have a free version. Now there’s a free 30-day trial.

Incoming Call Notification
Hold on, better take this. Be right back.

Who Can/Should Use SuperToast?

Modality developed this app to support Skype for Business users. Like us, they didn’t like missing notifications from co-workers or customers. The app works with Skype for Business Server and Online (O365) deployments.

Lync 2013 users still hanging on? SuperToast will work for you too.

That said, here’s a brief mention of SuperToast’s limits. It has 3 that I can determine:

  1. No Mac version yet.
  2. I am not certain if SuperToast will work with the Teams desktop client.
  3. As many commenters pointed out on my 2016 post, this IS a third-party app. Some organizations block third-party apps from user’s devices on security grounds. That is perfectly valid—we see malware apps all the time on customer PCs!
    In such cases, I’d recommend using SuperToast for Business. Its central management and Modality’s reputation should dissuade any security concerns.

I do know that Modality continues to work on SuperToast. We may see these limits resolved fairly soon. If I hear of timetables for such, I’ll update this post accordingly.

SuperToast in Taskbar
Runs in the taskbar. Quiet. Unobtrusive.

Super for Putting Missed Calls/Conversations in Front of Your Eyes

SuperToast is a single-purpose app. It does one job…and it does it well. Plus it’s cheap to buy. I always like simple apps like this; they don’t require a high learning curve, and provide an immediate benefit.

For those who miss a lot of notifications in the course of a workday, SuperToast makes for a quick, valuable solution.

SuperToast Page – Modality Systems

Used SuperToast before? How was your experience?


The post Software Add-on Review: SuperToast V3 appeared first on The Skype for Business Insider.

Posted in Skype for Business

July 18th, 2018 by Skype for Business News Aggregator

Do you want a chance to go hands-on with our award-winning governance solutions for Microsoft Teams? Click here to learn more–we’re coming to a city near you!

Microsoft recently surprised everyone and released a version of Teams completely free of charge for companies with less than 300 users. As a relatively new user of Teams myself (I’ve only been using the platform for a little over two months), I decided to give this new free version a spin. Read on for six easy-to-follow steps on how to get started with the new free Microsoft Teams.

microsoft teams

The basic setup for free Microsoft Teams is pretty straightforward. After entering and confirming the email that you’d like to use, you’re prompted to verify it through a simple code (to, you know, ensure that you’re not a robot).

Next is filling in company information: size, name, phone number, etc. Once all that’s taken care of, it’s finally time to open the app.

microsoft teams

At first blush it becomes apparent just how similar the free version is to the full platform available in Office 365. From the interface to the options menu, it really does feel like you’re getting the full experience here.

Step 1: Basic Setup

Before we can dive in, though, there’s some housekeeping to be done. After entering your name and uploading a picture (an oft overlooked step), you’re then able to invite up to 299 other people to join your Team via email invitations. You can either invite everyone at once or come back and add more later; your choice.

Whoever signs up for free Microsoft Teams is designated as the system administrator for your company. This means you can create teams, invite collaborators and organize specific channels for whatever you’d like.

Step 2: Create a Team

Creating a new team is surprisingly straightforward. You simply click on the “Join or create a team” button in the bottom left-hand corner, click on the “Create team” button that pops up…

…then input basic information such as your team name, a team description, and whether the team is public or private…

…and voilà! You’ve made your first team in a matter of minutes.

Step 3: Create a Channel

From here, creating channels isn’t too different from creating teams. Just click the “Create more channels” button and you’ll be greeted with the following prompt:

Similarly to team creation, Microsoft managed to make this part of the process as accessible as possible. Now you’re free to start adding files and collaborating with your team.

Step 4: Become Familiar with T-Bot

Everything is like this in free Microsoft Teams: clean, straightforward, and easy to understand. However, if you still find yourself confused on how to access certain features or want tips on general use, you don’t have to look far. Not long after starting the client up you’ll be greeted with a message from a little T-Bot offering assistance and ease of use advice.

Just like in the full Microsoft Teams experience, T-Bot will attempt to generate relevant answers to whichever questions you you throw at it. Its accuracy can be a bit spotty, however, so I highly recommend referencing T-bot’s Help, FAQ and Videos tabs.

Everything is like this in free Microsoft Teams: clean, straightforward, and easy to understand.
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Step 5: Utilize Team’s Built-In User Resources

Help will offer you a more traditional manual that covers everything from messaging governance to file organization in Teams. It’s complete with both links and screenshots, and really does a great job of breaking everything down into easy-to-understand chunks. The videos also do a great job of providing streamlined explanations for more visual learners.

Step 6: Leave Feedback!

There’s a handy Feedback tab in the bottom left that brings users to a “suggestion box site” specifically for Microsoft Teams free. Give them feedback and let Microsoft know your impressions directly!

All in all, I found free Microsoft Teams to be every bit as polished and easy to use as the full version I use every day at the office. Creating teams, channels, and using the chat interface are all extremely easy to do. If you’re on the fence, I’d encourage you to at least give the free version a shot.

Like what you read? Be sure to subscribe to our blog for plenty more Microsoft Teams content.

Posted in Skype for Business