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Microsoft LynServer 2013 : Windows Client - Peer-to-Peer Conversations (part 2) - Making Audio Calls, Making Video Calls

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Making Audio Calls

Initiating an audio call is as simple as right-clicking a contact, choosing Call, and specifying that it should be a Lync call. Then, the contact receives a pop-up and an audio notification and has the option to answer, decline, or redirect. Answer and decline should be fairly obvious as to what they do. Redirect gives the option to reply through IM or to set one’s status to Do Not Disturb. Accepting the call updates both users’ status to In a Call.

Users can easily escalate an existing IM conversation to audio by clicking the phone icon at the bottom of the conversation window. This pops the conversation out into its own window, similar to what happens when a brand-new call is placed.

When the call connects, a new window displays that looks similar to the IM window. In fact, it is the same window, but now has the audio portion joined.

The call window enables the user to easily mute the device by clicking the phone icon once more, which shows a microphone during an active call. Muting the microphone alters the icon on the client that muted his microphone. A connection signal strength and call timer are displayed in the upper-left corner of the conversation.

Users can access additional call-management options by hovering over the phone icon. After that, the following options are displayed:

Dial Pad—Used to enter DTMF tones when in a call. Users can also start pressing digits on the keyboard without first using the mouse to expose this menu.

Mute—Mutes the user’s local microphone. The phone icon changes to indicate that the user is muted and cannot be heard by the other party.

Hold—Places the call on hold. A notification bar appears with a Resume button to pick up the call again.

Devices—Allows the user to fine-tune the speaker volume, or switch to another audio device while in a call.

Transfer—Enables the user to transfer the call to a mobile device, or to someone else. The call can also be parked through this option if the Call Park feature is enabled.

The call can be ended with a click of the red phone icon in the upper-right corner of the conversation window. This ends only the audio portion of the call, and keeps the conversation active if IM or sharing is being used. Clicking the standard Windows close icon would end the entire conversation.

If Conversation History is enabled, the call is logged in the user’s Outlook folder. The call itself is neither recorded nor stored, but the list of participants and the duration of the call are captured.

Network Connectivity Icon

One of the other icons visible in the window is a Network Connectivity status, which is displayed in the upper-left corner of the call. This indicates the quality of the network connection and is useful in troubleshooting issues with voice quality on a call.

Making Video Calls

Initiating a video call is as simple as right-clicking a contact and choosing Start a Video Call. Much as with the audio call, the recipient has the option to accept, decline, or redirect. Redirect gives the option to reply with an IM or to mark the recipient as Do Not Disturb.

When the call is accepted, the usual client window opens and is located on the Video tab. The recipient initially sees the caller, but the caller doesn’t see the recipient until after he clicks Start My Video in the window.

While in an active conversation, users can leverage the new Video Preview feature to check what their video will look like before initiating the call. Hover over the video icon to see a preview, and then click Start My Video to initiate the call.

By default, participants in a two-way call see themselves in a picture-in-picture window inside the main video window. You can hide this preview by hovering over the video and clicking the downward-facing arrow. Click the upward-facing arrow to restore the video preview.

The same audio controls for mute, hold, and devices discussed previously are still available within a video call. Clicking the video icon again stops the user from sending video, and another click resumes it once again.

Users can also detach the video content from the conversation window by hovering over the main video and clicking the arrow in the upper-right corner. This can be useful for users with multiple monitors, enabling them to maximize the video on one screen while continuing to use the other monitor for another purpose.


Tip

If you expect widespread adoption of video conferencing and calls in your environment, don’t skimp on the video cameras. Modern webcams have rather nice lenses, and modern processors can easily keep up with the load of high-definition video conferencing.

Sharing Content

Using Lync to collaborate is a favorite feature of end users because of how simple it is to quickly share a desktop or an application. While in an active conversation, move the mouse over the presenter icon, which looks like a monitor, as shown in Figure 2. From here a user can share the following types of content:

All Monitors—Shares all the screens currently connected. Depending on the resolution of each user, the other end might need to zoom and pan to be able to read the content.

Specific Monitor—Shares only a specific screen if multiple monitors are attached. As the user hovers over the monitor options, a yellow border is displayed on the monitor about to be shared. This way a user knows exactly what content will be shown to the other user.

Program—Shares only a specific application. This is usually the best experience for users because it is more efficient and uses less bandwidth. It can also be useful for keeping private information hidden from the opposite party.

PowerPoint—Escalates the conversation to a Lync meeting and begins sharing a PowerPoint deck. The user is prompted to select a PowerPoint file to present.

Image

Figure 2. Lync content sharing.

Whiteboard—Escalates the conversation to a Lync meeting and begins sharing a new whiteboard.

Poll—Escalates the conversation to a Lync meeting and presents a poll for the other person to select. The poll can be given a name, a question, and up to seven possible choices.

Sending and Receiving Files

The IM interface enables one person to send a file to the other participant of the IM conversation. The easiest way to send a file is to just drag it from the desktop onto the current conversation window.

Alternatively, at the bottom of the conversation window is an icon with a monitor in it for sharing. Hover the mouse over that icon and then click Attachments at the top. Clicking Add Attachment launches a window that enables the user to select a file to transfer.

The person set to receive the file receives a notification and has the option to Accept, Save As, or Decline the file. Accepting the file triggers a warning window to warn the user that the file might contain harmful malware and that she should accept files from only someone she knows. After it is accepted, it downloads and a link displays to access the file. The sender of the file receives a notification that the transfer was successful.

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