By Debbie Arbeeny, Lync Program Manager II

Article updated 03/14/14.

We are pleased to introduce several feature enhancements debuting in the July 2013 Updates for the Lync 2013 desktop client. The new and enhanced features are targeted at making your meeting experience run more smoothly while allowing more robust collaboration between participants. 

By adding more functionality to the Lync client, allowing users to view and join meetings without requiring they switch to Outlook and allowing imagines to be directly placed in an IM, we’re making your Lync experience more seamless and productive. Additionally, we’ve listened to presenters who need more nuanced capabilities in their conferences by introducing the ability to mute IMs and offering more structured management of text-based questions and answers through the Q&A Manager.

Included in the July Lync Updates:

  • Embedded Images - Add images in-line with text during one-to-one conversations. 
  • Meetings View - View the day’s meetings from Meetings View in the Lync client main window.
  • IM Mute - Presenters may disable use of the conversation window during a scheduled meeting.
  • Q&A Manager - Presenters can review and respond to meeting questions in a structured way.

Information for IT Pros listed below.

Embedded Images

Feature Summary

Lync 2013 users may embed images in-line with text during one-to-one conversations.  

Overview

SCENARIO: When engaged in a one to one Lync conversation, a visual example can often help support the message or aid in the understanding of both participants.

SOLUTION:  Lync users can embed images directly into their conversation (IM) window, streamlining the dialogue and maintaining conversation flow.

User Experience

Within the Lync conversation (IM) window, conversation participants may embed images using copy/paste or drag-and-drop during a 1:1 chat. There is no limit to the number of images participants may embed in the course of a conversation.

Embedded Images is available on the Lync July 2013 desktop client. For users on legacy clients, the inline image will show up as a file transfer. Users on Lync mobile, will not be able to see the inline image at this time.

To learn more about how to Embed Images in a Lync conversation, see http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/redir/HA102828986.aspx

Meetings View

Feature Summary

Lync users may view their day’s upcoming scheduled meetings from Meetings View in the Lync client main window.

Overview

SCENARIO: Users connect with their colleagues in a variety of ways, from IMs to ad-hoc sessions to pre-scheduled meetings. Managing these connections in multiple tools (eg: Lync + Outlook) can become cumbersome and challenging.

SOLUTION: Lync unifies the user experience with the new Meetings View. Users can still conduct IMs, ad-hoc sessions and phone calls with Lync, as well as see and join all of their day’s scheduled meetings, streamlining their collaboration and conferencing experience.

User Experience

Within the main Lync client window, Meetings View displays upcoming scheduled meetings. The meeting subject and location will be displayed for on-site meetings, while online meetings will be labeled as "Lync Meeting". Online meetings scheduled by an organizer within one’s organization may be joined with a click from Meetings view.

NOTE: To receive Outlook calendar reminders, a user must have Outlook open on their desktop.

Meetings View is available on the Lync July 2013 desktop client. Users on Lync mobile can continue to use the existing meetings view feature.

To learn more about how to use Meetings View, see http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/redir/HA104070039.aspx

IM Mute

Feature Summary

“IM Mute” allows meeting organizers and/or presenters to disable the conversation (IM) window in a Lync 2013 meeting.

Overview

SCENARIO: During a Lync meeting, a continuous stream of IM dialogue may cause the presenter to lose focus, as well as divert attendee attention from meeting content – possibly diminishing the substance of the meeting.

SOLUTION: IM Mute empowers presenters to maintain control over meeting flow, and optimize the attendee experience by managing when participants can utilize the conversation (IM) window. Additionally, meeting organizers may Disable IM window when scheduling the Lync meeting.

User Experience

When Meeting IM is disabled, neither attendees nor presenters will have the option to view or contribute to the meeting chat using the conversation window. Once Meeting IM is allowed by a Presenter, all meeting participants will have the ability to view and add to the shared chat.

Meeting Organizers - Determine the availability of the conversation window for meeting participants upon joining the meeting. Disabling IM at the time of scheduling means that the conversation window will not appear for Attendees or Presenters.

Meeting Presenters - Maintain the ability to Enable/Disable the conversation window as needed during the session, using the Disable Meeting IM command in the Participant Actions menu.

Meeting Participants - Will see a notification that “A presenter turned off meeting IM”. Once enabled by the presenter, all participants may open the meeting conversation (IM) window by clicking the Chat icon in the Quick Lync bar in the lower left corner of the meeting window.

IM Mute is available on both the July 2013 Lync desktop client and Lync Web Access. For Lync mobile and legacy clients, when IM Mute is enabled the user will be able to send an IM, but will receive a bounce back.

To learn more about how to use IM Mute, see http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/redir/HA104070046.aspx

Q&A Manager

Feature Summary

Q&A Manager allows Lync 2013 meeting participants to submit questions in a structured way. Presenters can use the Q&A Manager to review and respond to attendee questions effectively.

Overview

SCENARIO: Presenters encourage text questions during a Lync Meeting to promote attendee participation. Relevant questions can be overlooked when asked via the general IM window. When answers are provided to those questions, the response is typically detached from the initial question, causing a disconnect between the asked question and its associated reply.

SOLUTION: The Q&A Manager provides a clear forum where non-verbal questions may be asked and answered. This feature is especially helpful in more structured meetings, as one presenter may respond to questions while someone else is presenting content.

User Experience

Once the Q&A Manager is added by a Presenter, all meeting participants will have the ability to view and ask questions. Note that the conversation (IM) window is disabled while the Q&A Manager is active, though presenters may enable IM if needed.

Meeting Presenters

  • Add Q&A from the Presentable Content menu to initiate the Q&A Manager. If no other content is being displayed, the Content Stage will open and display the Q&A Manager. If other content is active, the Q&A Manager will display as a new tab in the content stage area.
  • As attendee questions are submitted, presenters may View All or Unanswered questions.

** Note: This section was updated (3/14/14) to remove mention that the presenter receives a flashing notification that there are new, unanswered questions on the QA Manager as this feature is no longer available.

  • The presenter (like attendees) may switch between the Q&A Manager and active content tabs within the stage as needed. When there are multiple presenters in the meeting, one presenter may continue to present shared meeting content, while others monitor the Q&A Manager. 
  • Presenters may save the Q&A Manager text locally for later review. This log may be useful for creating an FAQ or reference document, or when following up with attendees offline.


Meeting Participants

  • Once enabled by the presenter, participants will initially see the Q&A Manager tab, but may click the Content Stage to view shared content at any time. Attendees may ask a question by typing into the box labeled “Ask a question” in the Q&A Manager, and pressing Enter. Attendees will receive a flashing notification when a question has been answered.
  • Attendees may choose to View All answered questions, or only the questions they have submitted by choosing My Questions at the top of the Q&A Manager tab. The number of answers posted will appear on the Q&A Manager tab in parentheses. Note that all meeting participants (attendees and presenters) will see all responses, including when the question was asked, and by whom. This is particularly helpful if some attendees join the meeting late, as they may review previously asked questions and avoid duplication.

Q&A Manager is available on both the July 2013 Lync desktop client and Lync Web Access. Users on legacy clients and Lync mobile will not be able to see or use the Q&A feature.

To learn more about how to use Q&A Manager, see http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/redir/HA104070128.aspx

For IT Pros

The above features require installation of the July 2013 Lync Client release. IM Mute and Q&A Manager also require the July Lync Server update. Microsoft will manage the Server update for Lync Online customers. Availability of the Q&A feature can be controlled at the Lync administration level.

Update details and downloads available at http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/lync/dn146014

End-User Impact

There are multiple features in the July update that can significantly impact a user's Lync experience. We recommend that you educate your users on this new functionality, sharing best practices and how-to details. See below for a sample email communication.

Sample Communication

We are excited to announce four new Lync features designed to improve your overall Lync experience.

  • Q&A Manager – the ability to manage formal Q&A in your Lync Meetings
  • IM Mute – the ability to disable IM during a Lync Meeting, allowing for greater control
  • Embedded Images – the ability to add images to any 1:1 Lync conversation
  • Meetings View – the ability to see your day’s upcoming meetings right in your Lync client

Two features in particular, Q&A Manager and IM Mute, will be especially helpful in more structured meetings, where the presenter wishes to maintain control over the presentation flow. By controlling when and how participants may use the IM conversation window and Q&A Manager, the presenter can ensure that meeting content is the primary focus of the Lync meeting.

IM Mute enables Lync Meeting organizers and/or presenters to:

  • Disable the conversation (IM) window when the Lync meeting is scheduled
  • Manage when participants can view or contribute to the meeting conversation
  • Maintain greater control over meeting flow and attendee participation

Q&A Manager is helpful whether a meeting has one or multiple presenters. For example:

  • A single presenter may use tabs within the content stage area to switch between application sharing or an uploaded presentation and the Q&A Manager.
  • When co-presenters are available, one may focus on presenting content, while one or more of the others monitor and reply to incoming questions in the Q&A Manager tab.

Get started with these new features today!

Attend live, online, instructor-led training: http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/communicator-help/lync-instructor-led-training-HA102465959.aspx