Why Bother With Lync if Skype Is Free?

Skype is free to use. Microsoft Lync costs lots of licensing money. They do the same things, so why would anyone pay for Lync?

This is the sort of question I’ve been asked more than once, from end users to high class Linux Engineers who are used to using the best fit free solution to their problem. As with most things, the choice between the two is dependent on what you want out of it.

They’re both owned by Microsoft now, and MS has started to integrate the two together. Some of the lines are starting to blur – but again, what does Lync offer that Skype doesn’t?

First, Skype is a consumer product. Lync is an enterprise product. Skype will update it’s desktop software whenever Microsoft’s severs say they’re ready. Lync will update when you tell your WSUS Server that it’s time to, after sufficient testing has been carried out. That’s the same reason nobody likes iTunes in an enterprise environment.

Lync will use your internal usernames and email addresses, while Skype needs an external Skype or Microsoft account. An I.T. Department can’t do as much to help someone who’s forgotten their username, had their account hijacked, blocked, eaten by a grue etc, while the Lync account is dependent on your Active Directory account and fully controllable (there is Skype Manager for businesses, where business accounts can be created from a CSV and some management overhead – but this is at a very basic level. See for further details).

Lync with Enterprise voice (with a compatible gateway) will allow you to use your existing company number range, and have Lync as your full PBX solution. Skype you have to buy a new phone number, and will be completely locked in to using Skype or losing the number. Vendor lockin is never a good thing.

Lync will fully integrate with your Exchange environment, with useful functions such as using Unified Messaging with Voicemail and sending the message back via email, conversation and call history saved back to each user’s mailbox, and fully reportable usage details via Lync’s SQL Reporting Services. Response groups for centralised numbers, simultaneous rings to multiple staff and other advanced voice functions make Lync a much fuller business product when compared to Skype.

Collaboration is much stronger in Lync too. Just being able to see if fellow staff members are available, on the phone, in a meeting, away for an hour or 24 hours automatically by their status saves everyone time. Screen sharing, whiteboards are incredibly useful extras. Both products have easily creatable multi participant calls and video chats, but at the Skype end you need to be a premium user for that function.

Lync can also host online meetings with external third parties, who only need a web browser and not a full Lync client or even a Lync account.

If you’re a complete control freak (as you should be in I.T.), you can have Lync on-premise with absolute control of your servers and the data they hold, or trade off some of the control with Office 365. Skype is a black box of mystery in regards to the server side. Redundancy, uptime and protection of data is a cross of the fingers since there’s not much else to do. If Skype ever goes down and your customers can’t contact you, you’ll have to hope someone at the Skype factory finds the right switch to flick.

There are probably other things I haven’t covered in this overview, but Microsoft Lync is an enterprise grade solution with everything you’d expect to get with that caliber of product, including the price tag.

Lync Issue – Deskphone Answers When Delegate Picks Up Call Via Headset


Sorry I couldn’t make that headline any shorter! This issue was bugging us for a while, and finally found the answer.



Lync 2010 with Enterprise Voice. User A sets up User B as a Delegate for calls, and sets their phone to forward or simultaneously ring to User B via the Delegates option as per this screenshot:


User B has both a Lync desk phone tethered to their computer via USB, and a headset plugged into their computer. User B answers the call either by clicking on the incoming call toast, or pressing their headset button. Even though their Lync client is set to use the headset as the default device, the desk phone answers the call in speaker mode.


This seems rather weird, especially if you call User B direct they can answer the call straight to their headset. We spent quite some time testing this, trying different options, upgrading firmware, uninstalling/reinstalling anything we could think of until finally I found this technet post: – scroll down to the last post by William Curley which has this exact problem.

The annoying part is that he claims that Microsoft classify this scenario as a ‘not supported scenario’. The best fix for this is to use Team-Call Group instead of Delegate, but you do lose the ability for Delegates to manage User A’s calls and make meetings on their behalf. This apparently applies to Lync 2013 also, but I don’t have that running to verify.

Lync also won’t like it if you set User A and User B to be delegates for each other, weird things start happening with who’s voicemail the call goes to.

The safest suggestion I have is to just avoid the Delegate option altogether if you use Lync with Enterprise Voice.

I hope this information saves someone a lot of time!

Update 17/10/2013: It looks like Microsoft have released a patch to fix this. has the long title of “PSTN call is routed to an Aries telephone in speaker mode when a delegate answers the call in Lync 2010 by using a USB headset” which fits this exact scenario. It’s a part of the cumulative update for Lync 2010 October 2013 which is available for download, but not in the update catalogue for WSUS servers yet.

How to set up Lync to Skype Federation


Microsoft Lync can now federate to Skype! This means that users can communicate between each system, which is awesome. This was launched 29th May 2013 as per this post

It’s a fairly easy process to request, assuming that you’ve already got standard federation up and running with edge servers. It doesn’t just magically work though, the Lync administrator needs to apply with Microsoft for the Skype to Lync federation to occur. I’d recommend starting with the “Provisioning Guide for Lync-Skype Connectivity: Lync Server 2013 and Lync Online” (which also works for Lync 2010) Microsoft have made available here:

This guide mentions that you need to go to to sign up, which I did, but going through the process resulted in the error at the bottom of this post*. @ScottBreen on twitter directed me to send an email to [email protected] asking for Lync to Skype federation.

The information they require are your Enterprise Name, Agreement Number. Access Proxy, Domain, Public IM Networks,  and Main Contact (Name, Email Address, Phone #).

After sending this off, overnight they had quoted 3-5 days to make it happen, but had set it up in less than 6 hours. There was nothing else at my end, I was able to immediately add my own Skype contact to my Lync contact, and communicate between the two.

I then tested with @nickstugr but couldn’t add him (no errors, just appeared as ‘presence unknown’ and he didn’t receive any request). After getting him to add my Lync email address it worked, I set out to find out why (i.e. I googled it).

I found this KB article which matched exactly. He was using a non Hotmail/Outlook/MSN email address for his Microsoft account which Microsft call an EASI (email as sign in)domain, and annoyingly you can’t just add those via Lync. You can add them by using this format: skypeguy( which is rather confusing for an end user, so my recommendation is to get the Skype user to add the Lync user.


After you’ve added a Skype user to Lync, you’ll see the little Skype logo next to their name in an active chat window. Skype users will see the word ‘Lync’ below the Lync contact’s name.

The last caveat is that you can’t add a pure skype user. Yes, this is a big one, the user at the Skype end needs to be signed in to Skype using their Microsoft account rather than their Skype account.

Apart from that, it does seem to work quite well. Functions such as pasting pictures into chat or video are currently not available, and the video part will be mid 2014,  according to Microsoft

Good luck!
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Exchange 2010 Unified Messaging – Unrecognised Voicemail Extension


I had an issue where a particular user’s voicemail on Exchange 2010 wasn’t working. When they called the voicemail number, they were asked “To access your mailbox, please enter the extension” rather than being greeted with their name and messages. The user was on Lync 2010, and Unified Messaging was enabled on their account with the matching extension number. Also, when dialing voicemail and trying to enter the extension number just met the message ‘XXX isn’t a valid mailbox’.

Disabling and re-enabling Unified Messaging made no difference. I was rather confident this was an Exchange/Unified Messaging issue, so I had the idea of checking ADSI edit to see if UM was properly enabled.

Checking the attribute “msExchUMEnabledFlags” found the issue. When a user has UM enabled, the value of this field should be 831, or 830 when disabled. I’ve come across this issue before, where it’s the wrong value and needs to be changed, but this was the first time I’d come across it as being 832.

Never a good sign when you google something, and you get zero results:


Changing the Attribute value back to 831 instantly fixed the issue, didn’t even require disabling and re-enabling Unified Messaging. If all else fails, change the value back to 830, refresh your Exchange Management Console and the user should show as being disabled for Unified Messaging, then re-enable as you normally would.

Hope this helps anyone else who comes across a similar issue.

Lync 2010 Response Groups and Ringing


I’ve been knee deep in Lync 2010 lately, and one thing I was working on was setting up some Response Groups. Simple enough, people call a number and it goes through to a few different staff on various extensions. The main annoyance from people calling the new Response group was the Music On Hold. As soon as you ring and hit the response group, you’re put on hold – it should be ringing on the phones of the members of the response group, but the caller hears on hold music. This can be confusing for people, so the easiest thing to do is to switch the Music On Hold to the exact same noise Lync uses when a phone is ringing.

This is done by modifying Step 7 in the Response Group:

lync response group


You can find the Lync WAV files on any computer with Lync 2010 installed, under C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Lync\Media\

* Updated 4th March 2014: Stephen Dolphin in the comments below nots that the Lync 2013 path is C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Office\Office15\MEDIA *

COMMUNICATOR_ringing.wav is the default one that most people will be familiar with. Otherwise you can find a normal ringing phone WAV file from anywhere and use that, such as this one:


After doing this, the callers don’t actually know they’re in a queue unless you’ve enabled other settings in the Response Group to make it obvious.