Category: Skype for Business

December 19th, 2018 by Skype for Business News Aggregator

In November, we announced a number of improvements to the Skype Meetings App, our web-downloadable meetings app for use when a Skype for Business desktop app is not installed on a Windows or Mac computer.  We have shipped all of the planned improvements except one - the replacement of Skype Meetings App download with Skype for Business desktop app on Mac. 


We heard from customers that they would like more time before we make this change in order to update their documentation and training materials.  To help make this a smoother transition for customers, we have decided to postpone this change until the first quarter of 2019.  We will post an update in the new year with a more specific timeline. 


Thank you to those customers who provided feedback on this and other improvements!

Posted in Skype for Business

December 19th, 2018 by Skype for Business News Aggregator

Just like that, we’ve reached the last post of 2018!

I do have a post on the Mediation Server for our “How It Fits into Skype for Business” in the works. But since it’s already mid-December, I thought a ‘year in review’ post made more sense.

2018: Year in Review

  • After the Skype for Business/Teams Merger Announcement in late 2017, Microsoft moved fast. Teams reached feature parity in August.
  • Teams Growth Extraordinaire. New desktop client, upgrades to mobile apps. It even surpassed Slack to take the #2 enterprise chat spot, after Skype for Business Server.
  • The ChatOps War raged. The space has both broadened its user base, and lost some of its offerings (HipChat, Stride).
ChatOps War
Not quite this violent, but you get the idea. Photo by Henry Hustava on Unsplash.
  • The launch of Skype4B Server 2019 in October. We haven’t deployed it for internal use yet, but I know the IT Consulting team has done some testing. Initial impressions good.
  • 26 posts on this blog. Only a little growth this year, but that’s my fault more than anyone else’s. I’m still glad to see we get plenty of traffic, helping hundreds of thousands of people!

2018 wasn’t all great news though…

  • No Linux client for Teams.
  • O365 Outages/Crashes.
  • MS auto-moving new O365 customers to Teams (no access to S4B Online)
  • The announcement of Skype4B Server 2019 came begrudgingly. As I’ve said before, I suspect we won’t get any more on-prem versions after this.
  • We lost one of our office dogs. RIP Patches.
Patches Office Dog

Tumultuous, to say the least. But we’re IT pros. We make things happen no matter what.

What’s Coming in 2019 for the Blog

I know the posting schedule diminished a little this past year. Don’t worry; we’re far from done! Here are some planned posts coming up next year:

  1. A Skype for Business Server 2019 Install Series. We haven’t deployed Skype4B Server 2019 internally yet. But it’s on the docket. Once we do, I’ll blog about everything I can involving the setup, deployment, capabilities, and snags.
  2. Teams Integration/Sunsetting of Skype for Business Online posts. A monumental change coming…what will its aftershocks result in? We’ll all find out.
  3. Software & Device Reviews. I love doing these! Thanks to Yealink, Modality, and Plantronics/Polycom for sharing your hard work with us.
  4. Collaborations. I’d like to do more collaborations in 2019. We’ve done a few in the past here, and they came out great. Are you a fellow tech blogger? A Microsoft tech with years of experience? Let’s talk! Shoot me an email at

No poll this time. But if you have thoughts about the state of Skype for Business/Teams, please feel free to share.

Merry Christmas to IT Pros Everywhere!

We at PlanetMagpie hope everyone has a safe & happy holiday! We’ll see you back here in January, refreshed and ready for another year.

As always, if you have a topic you’d like to see addressed in 2019, please share it with us.


The post The Skype for Business Insider Year in Review – 2018 Edition appeared first on The Skype for Business Insider.

Posted in Skype for Business

December 19th, 2018 by Skype for Business News Aggregator
By Scott Murphy
Develop a well-thought-out approach to the migration and make sure your management and operations teams understand the potential opportunities and challenges.

Posted in Skype for Business

December 19th, 2018 by Skype for Business News Aggregator

We are extremely excited that Bandwidth has chosen to partner with us as a sponsor.

Bandwidth helps brands build communications into their core business by providing simple voice & messaging APIs, 9-1-1 access, and a nationwide, all-IP voice network that they own and operate.

Please take a moment to visit their website at to learn how their robust offerings con complement your expanding UC environment.

The post Bandwidth Joins as Sponsor appeared first on Skype and Microsoft Teams Users Group.

Posted in Skype for Business

December 19th, 2018 by Skype for Business News Aggregator

Not too many people know this, but AvePoint’s logo isn’t just a stylized “A.” It represents a rising sun just above a mountain, and also a person with a bowing head.

That’s how I feel towards the end of 2018 – dreaming big about making a positive difference for our customers and making a splash across the industry in the new year, but always looking back at our company’s recent accomplishments and milestones with gratefulness and humility.

For this post, I’ll be looking back starting with lessons learned and then some key milestones and accomplishments. My next post will take a look forward toward how AvePoint can make a positive impact in 2019.

Lessons Learned: Communication and Prioritization

I’ve discussed here before that one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is not to underestimate the disruptive nature of digital transformation. I’m proud of the team and the ultimate outcome, but it was a bumpy road. Ultimately, it has helped us better understand how to make it easier on our customers undertaking the same journey.

Looking back at 2018, two of the biggest lessons I’ve learned are the importance of communication and prioritization.

We regularly garner feedback across the company (including via anonymous surveys) to foster a dialogue and continuously improve our work environment. One of the findings I was initially shocked by was the desire for more communication within the company!

After all, we have quarterly all-hands townhalls, Teams, SharePoint, product updates of all types, and are active users of Yammer. I’m personally a big advocate of Yammer and push for everyone to participate and leverage it to communicate outside of our day-to-day silos. (Read my take on the “what to use when” conversation).

Over time, however, I began to understand and see some of the challenges. We stress agility as one of our core values; as an industry leader, it’s important to be ahead of trends to provide real value to our customers. Our solutions are constantly updated with new functionality and features. At the same time, we have more than three dozen solutions that can help solve a customer problem.

So we did two things. We redesigned and upgraded our AvePoint University training program, and we put a higher emphasis on prioritizing our solutions portfolio with the highest demand: migration, Office 365 backup, cloud governance, and cloud records.

I recently attended a seminar on essentialism, hosted by Greg McKeown, author of the book Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less. The focus of the seminar was to declutter work life, something I think is even more applicable at the organizational level.

Key 2018 Milestones and Achievements

Looking back at 2018, there were so many great moments that it’s hard to narrow them all down. This video does a pretty good job of covering the highlights in 1:10 seconds:

More SaaS Than Ever: One metric I have been paying very close attention to is the revenue we earn from our SaaS versus on-premises solutions. I am pleased to report that AvePoint is a majority SaaS company earning most of our revenue from the cloud. We’ve invested heavily in the quality of our cloud platform itself and our competitors don’t come close.

ISO 27001 Certification: Speaking of dedication to our cloud platform, AvePoint passed our ISO 27001 Certification this year with flying colors. We are truly dedicated to embedding privacy and security by design into our products. Our security and compliance team leveraged our Compliance Guardian solution to assist and accelerate this process (learn how they did it).

RVA 311: I’ve always felt the best AvePoint achievements are actually our customers’ successes. This is the case with the City of Richmond’s highly successful launch of RVA 311 powered by Citizen Services technology. Six departments are using the technology and receiving about 18,000 transactions a month—and that number is expected to grow. Take a look at our new video case study for more details.

Product Innovation: We take pride in our entrepreneurial spirit and the continuous innovation that has made us the top global Microsoft ISV. This year we had a number of innovations and product milestones, including the first Office 365 item restore bot for end users. Additionally, we added features to our Cloud Backup solution to enable global deployments in a world with increasing data sovereignty regulations. Our Cloud Records solution was deemed VERS compliant and our Compliance Guardian solution was a “Strong Performer” in the Forrester New Wave™: GDPR And Privacy Management Software, Q4 2018.

Customer Success: I am proud of how we have elevated the customer experience at AvePoint in 2018. Not just through a totally new account portal that simplifies and streamlines all your engagements with us as an organization, but in our expansion of our Customer Success team.

If you are a customer, I highly encourage you to book a meeting. Our Customer Success team’s only goals are to either 1) get you up and running, or 2) leveraging more value from what you already own (a.k.a. maximizing your existing investment).

Looking Forward to 2019

I wish everyone a happy New Year!

The holidays are an amazing time to recharge, reset and find your Ikigai or “reason for being.” It’s important to find purpose in your work and what gets you out of bed in the morning!

Want to keep up with everything AvePoint has coming in 2019? Make sure to subscribe to our blog!

Posted in Skype for Business

December 19th, 2018 by Skype for Business News Aggregator

Want to optimize collaboration within your Microsoft Teams environment? Check out our free “Everyday Etiquette in Microsoft Teams” guide today! 

This is Part 4 of our ongoing Microsoft Teams interview series. Check out the others below:

Sarah is the AvePoint Public Sector Marketing Manager, in charge of everything from coordinating the collaboration of customer-facing collateral to scheduling and facilitating webinars, events, and conferences. Beyond her experience interacting with the Public Sector team in Microsoft Teams, Sarah has used Microsoft Teams to coordinate 50+ people at our firm’s largest marketing event, Microsoft Ignite, two years in a row. In part four of this series, we’ll talk with her to see how Marketing has taken advantage of the tool and what it was like to be on the outside of the APS roll out.

Name: Sarah Zalesiak
Richmond, VA
Current Role:
Marketing Manager
One word that best describes how you work:
Mobile device of choice:
Computer of Choice: 
Lenovo ThinkPad

To get started, please tell us a little about your background and how you got to where you are today.

I’ve been with AvePoint as a part of the field marketing team for two years now. Before AvePoint, I actually did fundraising at a local nonprofit for several years.

What is your engagement with the rollout of Microsoft Teams for Marketing and across the whole of AvePoint?

Marketing was one of the earlier adopters of Microsoft Teams, and we currently use the platform exclusively for all collaboration. We use different channels within the “Marketing Team” to push out announcements/updates or ask questions that impact different groups of people within our department. We’re also really active within the Teams for other departments. We have a channel set up within the “Team” for each of our sales teams (we use these to share information and collaborate with different groups).

How has Microsoft Teams changed how you engage across the marketing department?

We used to send tons of emails back and forth with lots of people on cc. We also leveraged Skype for Business to chat, but having so many different communication threads floating around made project-based collaboration tricky to follow. Teams has completely changed the game for us.

We structure the channels within a Team around different projects. If the project is relevant to you, you can “follow” the channel to stay up-to-date on all communication. Even if you aren’t following a channel but you’re part of the larger team, you still can check in from time to time to see how things are going. The transparency here is really nice.

Looking for examples of how Teams can be useful for a marketing department? Check out this interview:
Click To Tweet

What do you do in Teams that you can’t imagine going back to doing “the old way?”

Everything 😊 One thing we’ve been able to streamline considerably using teams are requests for email sends. We have a channel reserved just for these. If I need a second set of eyes on something before sending, I’ll pop a link to the program in the channel, tag a handful of people, and whoever has the bandwidth to take the request will shoot a note back letting everyone know a review is in process.

If they spot any discrepancies or want to loop in a third person for review, they’ll respond right in the thread. I “follow” this channel so I get notified when a request comes in, even if I’m not tagged in it. We have seven people in North America who work on marketing emails, so it’s nice to be able to keep tabs on everything that’s going on.

Why did you choose to use Microsoft Teams as a tool-of-choice at Ignite 2018?

Before rolling out Microsoft Teams, we used a handful of different platforms for big conferences like Ignite. All pre-show planning was done via email with lots of conversations in Skype for Business. We used text, email, and WhatsApp to communicate on-site. I would email myself pictures of business cards or send myself email reminders around conversations with leads. Contracts and planning documents were all stored in SharePoint, something that made it tricky to pull up quickly on-site if a question came up. Now, we simply spin up a Team for the conference that houses all pre-, current and post-event communication.

What does a typical event Team look like in Microsoft Teams?

Different groups of people are involved in different parts of the process, so we leverage channels to make sure the right audience is getting the right message. We’ll typically use one channel for all pre-show planning. We have another that our SME team uses to track meetings and ensure we have coverage as needed. Marketing uses their own channel to communicate on-site around blog posts and social updates.

We encourage our on-site team to follow the “General” channel, a space reserved for things that impact everyone involved like announcements, logistical info around hotels, shuttle schedules, etc. Everyone is asked to download the Microsoft Teams app ahead of the show so they can stay up-to-date with important notifications and quickly access files, meeting notes, etc. when on the go.

What’s your best time-saving shortcut in Microsoft Teams?

The ability to link directly to a thread is really nice.

Blog Post: Exploring Microsoft Teams in APAC! Dux’s Governance Tips and Workshop Recap

What are the best features of Microsoft Teams that you miss when you’re working with departments that have not adopted the tool?

This might be a toss-up between perpetual chat and the ability to copy and paste images directly into a chat or Teams thread.

Fill in the blank: I’d love to see ____ answer the same questions.

Our Community Champions.

What’s one thing would you recommend to someone working with another department who has rolled out Microsoft Teams?

Be selective with your tagging! Make sure you’re only tagging individual people or groups of people who the information is relevant to. If you over-tag, people may start tuning out.

Want to be notified when a new series entry goes live? If so, subscribe to our blog!

Posted in Skype for Business

December 18th, 2018 by Skype for Business News Aggregator

Microsoft Teams continues to evolve as the hub for teamwork in Office 365 helping you achieve more. Upcoming voice capabilities will enable you to support different communication scenarios, while new manageability and automation functionality will allow you to better support Teams across your organization.


Communicate more effectively


People across your organization communicate in different ways depending on their work style, role, and preferences. Microsoft teams is bringing new voice features to help you address your company needs:

  • Can’t answer the phone right now?
    • Group Call Pickup allows you to create a custom group with colleagues that can answer your calls.
    • Shared line Appearance enables you to choose a delegate to answer call on your behalf.

  • Want to connect a caller with someone who is hard to contact?
    • Call Park simplifies the process of connecting callers with users that are not easily reachable by using unique codes to aid targeted users to retrieve calls using a Microsoft Teams client.

  • Need to restrict call routing based on location?
    • Location-Based Routing helps you stay compliant with local regulation with by allowing you to restrict the routing of calls between VoIP endpoints and PSTN endpoints based on the location.

Find out more these features here.


Work with confidence: new features for IT admin


Fostering effective collaboration among your users requires that your admin team have the capabilities they need. From improved visibility and control of all teams across your organization to streamlining key parts of the Teams lifecycle, we are bringing new manageability and automation capabilities to help you better support teamwork across your organization:

  • Manage your teams directly from the Admin Center: A list of all teams in your organization is now available to all customers directly in the Microsoft Teams and Skype for Business Admin Center. Simply click on “Teams” in the left navigation and select “Manage Teams” to see this list. From here, you can manage membership, add or remove channels, and change settings. Additionally, you can quickly create a new team, customize it, and add members allowing you to better support your users.

  • New Teams Administrator Roles: Are you responsible for administering Teams in your organization? New Azure Active Directory roles are now available to all customers. Users can be assigned the Teams admin roles via the Azure Admin Portal. Simply find the appropriate user profile in the Azure Active Directory and click on “Directory Role” from the left navigation. Next, click “Add Role” and select the Teams admin role you want to assign from the available options.

  • Automate the Teams Lifecycle with new Graph APIs: Save time while providing users a workspace tailored to their needs by streamlining the process of creating and customizing teams with new Graph API’s.

Learn more about these new capabilities here.


Customize your team with 3rd party integrations


Monthly Spotlight - Apps in Teams: Disco, Q, and Trello!

We are constantly adding new and improved apps to our Teams experience and plan on highlighting a few of our apps that have been making major waves to further enable collaboration.


Disco (formerly known as Growbot) helps you build stronger cultures, celebrate employee achievements and reinforce their core values. Learn more here.

disco.pngRecognize great work with Disco.


Q is an AI assistant that provides you critical information based on what you are working on. It sorts through millions of articles and sources to pull in only the most relevant ones. Learn more here.

Q.pngFunnel critical information with Q.


Trello empowers you to stay on top of your project tasks with the Trello Personal app in Microsoft Teams. This app gives users access to assigned cards across all their Trello boards for different teams where they are contributing. Learn more here.

Trello.pngStay on top of your tasks with Trello.


The Site24x7’s updated app for Microsoft Teams provides your DevOps teams with tools and services to help you avoid downtime, including a Site24x7 bot that provides real-time data and the ability to add custom all-in-one dashboards to a Teams channel. Learn more here.

24x7.pngAvoid downtime with the Site24x7’s updated app for Microsoft Teams.


LucidChart for Microsoft Teams helps you bring your team together to work on documents such as flowcharts or network diagrams. Learn more here

lucid chart.pngImprove collaboration with visuals using Lucidchart.


Decisions for Microsoft Teams empowers groups that meet regularly to have better meetings with key functionality such as viewing a list of upcoming meetings, reviewing recent meeting notes, and accessing past meeting outcomes. Learn more here.



Discover how organizations are transforming teamwork


Attractive workplace at SAP – thanks to Office 365
With over 400,000 customers relying on their software and services, SAP is one of the largest technology solution providers in the world. The Germany based organization employs more than 93,000 people across 130 countries, all of whom can choose their OS, among other tools. Due to GDPR requirements along with the rise of geographically distributed teams, SAP introduced Teams as their single communication and collaboration tool of choice. Thanks to viral adoption, Teams has rapidly enabled SAP’s intelligent workplace. Read SAP’s full story here!


Ricoh uses Microsoft Teams as the communication platform to change its business model and foster co-creation
Ricoh is a Japanese multinational imaging and electronics company that seeks to empower their customers’ digital workplaces. Prior to Teams, Ricoh was using a collaboration tool introduced in 1994 and consisting of email and document sharing. This led to an inundation of email, which hindered creativity and took time away from customers. Now with 75% of the organization using Teams for chat, meetings, co-authoring, and more, employees can now engage in real-time, creating a more agile work culture. Read Ricoh’s full story here!


Establishing group-wide communication, promoting employee interaction in a wall-less environment with team collaboration hub
The Sega Sammy Group is a Japan-based entertainment company that creates sophisticated products and operates a resort in South Korea. The result of a 2004 merger, Sega Sammy has encountered a series of IT challenges in its effort to grow. Departments were using different chat tools, leading to communication issues and raising security concerns. After implementing Teams, employees leveraged not just chat, but the entire solution, holding conference calls and accessing OneNote and Planner all within Teams. Teams has enabled greater collaboration and flexibility across Sega Sammy, transforming their culture of work. Read Sega Sammy’s full story here!


Let us know what you think!


Try the new features and provide feedback using the feedback link in the lower left corner of Microsoft Teams. If you have suggestions on how to make Teams better, please submit your idea via User Voice or vote for existing ideas to help us prioritize the requests. We read every piece of feedback that we receive to make sure that Microsoft Teams meets your needs.

Posted in Skype for Business

December 18th, 2018 by Skype for Business News Aggregator


I have written a script that uses Graph API and PowerShell to extract the messages and replies in every channel in a Microsoft Teams team. In these GDPR days, I would do some research on what’s allowed in your country regarding data storage, before thinking about using this with real-world data. You can see an example of output from my demo tenant here:


Because the script contains HTML code, I could not embed the code here on my blog. I had to post it on GitHub, so if you head over here, you can copy the script.


Posted in Skype for Business

December 18th, 2018 by Skype for Business News Aggregator

In part 1 of this series, we introduced the Healthcare Bot, ran through some of the key features and costs, and showed you a working version of the bot. In part 2, we covered how you can install the Healthcare Bot in your own tenant. In this post, we’re going to look at some of the ways you can configure the Healthcare Bot to make it applicable to your own service.

Medical Configuration

To change these settings, first navigate to the Bot’s Management Dashboard. You can get to this by finding the Bot in your Azure portal, selecting it and then choosing the Manage Account link.

Mouse over the cogwheels, and choose Medical from the menu.

There are two tabs: Triage and Medical Information. Within the Triage tab you can change how the Bot performs the triage, for instance deciding whether to ask about pregnancy, what terminology to use for gender, whether to show the full triage results, how many possible causes to display etc. The Medical Information tab allows you to configure the wording for various outcomes to make sure they are appropriate to your users.

Compliance Configuration

Choosing Compliance from the cogwheel menu allows you to change various compliance settings. There are three tabs. The first one deals with Privacy and allows the wording for various privacy-related functions to be configured. It’s good to see that the ability to be forgotten has been built right into the Bot. There is also a Data Retention setting to allow you to select what data retention period you want to use: either GDPR-mandated or HIPPA-mandated.

The Security tab allows you to set the timeout window that the Bot will keep a conversation open for. It’s possible as well to force end-user authentication for all interactions with the Bot.

The Terms and Consent tab lets you specify your own URLs for Terms of Service and Privacy. There is also the option to require a user to accept the terms before continuing.

Conversation Configuration

Choosing Conversation from the cogwheel menu covers a lot of the interactions users will have with your Bot. There are 3 tabs. The first one, Interactions, covers things like welcome messages, feedback, and defaults for when the user isn’t understood. All these responses can be configured – it’s possible to really give your Bot the character you wish. The Navigation tab lets you change how the Help feature appears to users – including the quick commands to actions such as listing out what the bot knows about you, previous interactions etc. The Cognitive Services tab includes default messages for when phrases aren’t quite understood.


By default, the Bot speaks in English, which is the only locale that’s installed by default. It’s possible to add others though by navigating to Language (the speech bubble icon) -> Localization:

You can either add your own locale… or if you want to keep with the English (US) locale you can edit these default texts to personalize your Bot further.

Scenario Customisation

The Healthcare Bot comes with some default template scenarios, each of which can be customised to match the desired workflow. Clicking Scenarios -> Manage and selecting the scenario to edit will open the Scenario Editor:

This lets you add new sections to the existing workflow, or even completely change how the scenario work.

You can also drop from the designer view to the code view. This can be easier to change how some parts of the scenario work.

By default, the handoff scenario includes the ability to connect to a nurse or other human professional. The Healthcare Bot comes with a sample framework to support agents connecting to the service, seeing users which are waiting to speak to an agent, and then connecting them:

For more information about this, including steps to deploy, see the Microsoft Docs page: Handoff overview.

These are just some of the ways you can configure the Healthcare Bot to make it appropriate for your scenario. As you can see, there are many ways you can shape how the Bot acts and behaves, as well as the tone and character it presents to users.

Want to know more?

This is part 3 in a series of posts (which start here) about the Microsoft Healthcare Bot. If you want to know more about how to deploy the Healthcare Bot in your own website then look out for the next post, coming soon. You can subscribe to the newsletter and I’ll email you weekly with a summary of posts. Or there’s an RSS feed, YouTube channel, Podcast, Twitter… you get the idea.

Posted in Skype for Business

December 18th, 2018 by Skype for Business News Aggregator

This tip is somewhat based on last week’s tip. When posting a conversation into a Microsoft Teams channel, give as much context as possible. If you are posting a link, tell what the link is about, don’t just post the link. Also, tag people if you want them to see it specifically. Many times, we post things in a Channel and it ultimately just becomes a large “junk” drawer of content. There is a lot of valuable information in the channel but we can’t find it easily. By giving context and tagging people, it becomes easier to search for the information.

Here’s a quick example. In the first image, I’ve posted a link to the channel but given no context.

Teams has gone ahead and given us a quick preview of the site but that’s it. We have no idea why this link is here. The same could apply to a file dropped into the channel as well.

Here’s a second example where I’ve given more context to the post:

You can see that I added a subject and I tagged the Demo Team and told them why they should pay attention to this awesome website.

By doing these things, when new members get added to the Team, they can search for content and be able to better discover Microsoft Teams Tips now.

Posted in Skype for Business