Monthly Archives: October 2014

The ten reasons I still hate Microsoft Lync

Around two years ago, I wrote The ten reasons I hate Microsoft Lync the most. It’s either a sad reflection of my blog, or a sad reflection about what people think of Lync, but it’s the most popular article on here. Either way, I read a marketing blog on the SAP website about Lync and figured it was time to update this.

1) No improvements

In the last 2 years, there has been no discernible innovation in Lync. Microsoft released Lync 2013, but it didn’t make anything work any better. Despite the cries for help from customers, Microsoft haven’t done anything measurable to fix the product. Instead, they seem to have invested R&D in extending the product to create more broken features. Great.

2) Mobile is still unusable

In the last 2 years, mobile devices have become pervasive – I don’t know about you, but I do around 50% of my work on a tablet or smartphone. I did try installing Lync 2013 on my iPad and iPhone, but it’s unusable. In a world where the tiny startup Viber has produced an app that works on all my devices on any network, the fact that Microsoft can’t do the basics in mobile is sad.

3) Messages don’t sync across devices

When I get a Viber message, it appears on whatever device I’m on. When I read the message, it appears read on all devices, obviously. Not so with Lync. If I am desperate enough to sign into Lync on my iPad, I inevitably end up with a pile of messages that I find a few weeks later.

4) Notifications don’t work

Notifications don’t even work, either on Mac, iPad or iPhone, losing yet more messages. And whilst we’re there, if Lync signs you out, which happens every time you lose network connection, then it closes all the windows and you lose the messages.

5) Screen sharing and sending of files don’t work

I have a high-resolution screen, and Lync 2013 doesn’t scale, so if I can get screen sharing to work, I have to sit and squint at my screen to see what’s going on. Maybe Microsoft can make a line of magnifying glasses to hold in front of your screen? But then 2 minutes into the call, you lose screen sharing anyhow, and that’s the end of that. My solution – a subscription, which works great on any device and network.

6) Call quality

I’ve used plenty of other systems, and phone quality is never a problem. But with Lync it’s usually a problem. The most reliable way is to setup a call, and then dial in from my cellphone, but this has a lot of background noise. I’m unable to reliably join on a PC connection, despite having excellent Verizon FIOS internet at home. But I regularly talk to colleagues and friends in Europe and Asia on Viber and FaceTime Audio – even when driving on a cellphone.

7) Lync doesn’t work at all on Mac OS X Yosemite

Yeah, it just crashes.

8) No chat rooms

You can argue that Viber is a consumer app, but they have a tiny R&D budget and they have innovated way beyond what Microsoft has done. Probably my favorite feature of Viber (WhatsApp have this too) is the ability to create rooms, which work across devices. For projects this is great – we add a bunch of people to a Viber chat room, and everyone is up to date. And I just checked, and managed to send a picture just fine with Viber.

9) The increasing pervasiveness of Lync

Despite the user experience, Lync seems to be gaining ground in the market. This is horrible because it means that I get and send Lync meeting requests from other companies. Since it doesn’t work in my organization, the idea that joining meetings from other companies is comic.

10) The comments on my last blog

One of the things that disappointed me were the comments on my last blog. On the one hand, it was nice to know I wasn’t alone with Lync misery, but the sad things were the comments from what appear to be Lync administrators – mostly telling me that my company was doing it all wrong, some being plain abusive. But we have a pretty good IT team, and we employed a specialist consultancy for the implementation, and we’ve had it reviewed. I don’t believe it’s our implementation that’s the problem.

Final Words

It’s sad that two years on, Microsoft have done nothing to address any of the concerns I wrote about before, and it’s clear that many people feel the same way that I do – the comments below are testimony to this.

The only people that seem to think that Lync works well are the people who install and configure it. Many of them feel passionately that Lync is a good solution. To them, I suggest they listen to feedback from the people who use it.

Lync sucks.

Does Verizon Fios Quantum 300MB really exist?

I’ve had the need to download a large volume of data over this last week. I had the Verizon FIOS 50/25 service, which is now quite outdated and has been replaced by a 75/75 service for the same price. So, I thought I’d get upgraded.

As it turns out, the Motorola wall box that Verizon provided 5 years ago doesn’t support this, so Verizon kindly offered to upgrade me to a new wall box free of charge, the next working day (it normally costs $100 but they waived it, presumably due to being a long term customer). They also said they had to upgrade me to 300/300 and then downgrade me back to 75/75.

300/300 costs over $200/month, but I thought it would be fun to test: do you REALLY get 300/300 or is it just “theoretical”. What does $200/month get you?

Step 1 – 90Mbit

Two friendly Verizon engineers came by this morning to do the upgrade (precisely on schedule), and 60 minutes of downtime later, I went and retested the internet. I got 90Mbit both on wired and wireless connection. That’s a bit too convenient, and I suspected there might be a problem in the long wire that went from my Apple Time Capsule (3rd Generation) to the Verizon wall box.

So I moved the Time Capsule to a short 3m cable next to the Verizon box, in the hope it might get a Gigabit Ethernet connection.

Step 2 – 180Mbit

This made a dramatic difference, and even with the old Time Capsule I got 180Mbit wireless networking, which is quite amazing. At this point, my ThunderBolt Gigabit Ethernet adapter blew up, so I wasn’t able to test wired networking.

I also knew the Time Capsule was on its way out – it’s 3 years old and has a hard drive inside and gets extremely hot. Some redundancy is good at home so I thought I’d go and buy a new AirPort Extreme. Don’t bother with the Time Capsule… just attach a hard disk to the Airport and save $100.

Step 3 – 320-350Mbit

After I replaced the Time Capsule (802.11n) with the Airport Extreme (802.11ac) I now get the full 300-350Mbit, and it is more reliable with the ThunderBolt Gigabit Ethernet adapter (thanks to Apple for replacing this free of charge).

What’s real world performance like?

It’s pretty amazing. I’m getting a comfortable 60GB/hour of downloads going on, which I happen to need for a work project I’m working on under deadline. Ping time to is just 4ms and we can all browse the internet and watch movies even whilst downloading several threads at 60GB/hour.

Would I pay $200/month for the pleasure? No, I’m sorry but this is an excessive luxury that I can’t afford and don’t need. But, I am thinking of downgrading to the $129/month 150/150 rather than the $89/month 75/75.

Final Words

Just because you buy 300/300 internet, it doesn’t mean you will get it. You need devices, wireless adapters and wireless routers that can shift that sort of bandwidth and may have to invest some additional dollars to get what you paid for. And if you really want super-reliable internet, you do need to move to a wired connection – it reduces latency and improves browsing performance.

Either way, kudos to Verizon and Apple for awesome customer service and good quality products.

Now, I just need to find a database big enough to load the 18TB of data I just downloaded. More on that later!