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 join.me 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.

76 thoughts on “The ten reasons I still hate Microsoft Lync

  1. Pingback: The ten reasons I hate Microsoft Lync the most | People, Process & Technology

    1. John Appleby Post author

      I believe that SAP just rolled out Lync voice and sharing to all users? But not dial-in yet, that is coming soon. Can you get it to work? I saw a few people struggle so far and revert to Adobe Connect.

      1. PaulTom (@PaulTom)

        We use it for both Voice and sharing and it seems to be ok on PC, but apart from that it is lackng on all other devices. Quite why the Mac version of Lync is so poor compared with the PC version I don’t know. I too have given up on the mobile version, so I feel your pain.

    2. Dennis

      What makes no sense to me is that regular Skype on my mac works great – but Lync voice calls (Skype for business) on the same machine, same network, same hardware just sucks.

  2. Thierry Crifasi

    I agree with many of your points (all related to IP telephony). But I wonder how many of these pain points are due to poor user training or product capability awareness. It would not be the first time we implement an internal system but don’t apply to ourselves what we preach outside…. Like with every IT System implementation, there is a People element to it and end user training is an important aspect.

    Take for example your Chat room statement. You are incorrect as one can create “Groups” in the Contact list and initiate a chat or conference from there by right clicking. I use that for my projects but came across the feature by chance.

    I don’t know about your iOs devices (sorry I only speak Android:) ) but I can do the same thing from the Lync mobile app as well. – even though I can’t drop attachments in from the app like with Whatsapp or Viber. But then how common is this use case in a B2B scenario…..

    Yes Lync is far from perfect but life still goes on ! I’m not going back to pen and paper.

    1. John Appleby Post author

      You can create groups by they are transient and once people leave or are kicked out, that’s it. That’s not how presence should work in 2014, it should be persistent and push the messages out to people. Whatsapp, Viber, Skype, all handle this requirement just fine!

    2. mattdarwin2015

      chat rooms: one of the most annoying things about lync compared to skype (or viber, etc) is that you have to recreate a group chat every time you want to use it. And as soon as someone logs off, they are removed from the chat. This transient nature of these group chats means they are not really much use, and definitely not worthy of the name ‘chat room’.

  3. kerry schutz

    I agree. We are 2 years into Lync adoption at our 1 billion dollar company and it still sucks 2 years later. Microsoft gets points for consistency at least, sarcasm intended. I still use a separate call-in phone using my cell or other IP service like OOMA for the audio if I have to join a Lync meeting for video. Putting both audio and video on the same Lync connection is asking to lose both and deal with sluggish video and choppy audio while it’s up. It’s not tolerable for anything other than amateur hour interaction, an enterprise solution it is not. I too am surprised that it seems to be gaining market acceptance. Their success must solely rest on their integration and market penetration with Office, that and their name. Otherwise, it wouldn’t get a second look at the enterprise level. Oh yeah, long live WebEx and any other online collaboration tool that actually works.

  4. Shane Martin

    The only thing I’d like to add, and I hope this is the case, is that perhaps Microsoft have been struggling with integrating the Skype company with their Lync division.
    I am hoping that this is the reason for the lack of improvements recently. Hopefully a better working team will produce better results.
    Lets hope it simply isn’t based around MS losing interest/focus on the product.

    1. Dennis

      It’s January, 2016. I’ve got Office 2016 on my mac. Up to date Lync for Business. And voice quality still stinks. I catch 1 of every 3 words others are saying. This is on a 5GB system at the office or a fiber system at home (so it’s not bandwidth). The PC users don’t have these problems.

        1. Justin Barrett

          Windows Skype for Business is crap. I’m highly doubtful the Mac client will make any difference. Even when on the same LAN, the quality is junk. Additionally, that a message does not appear on all my devices connected to Skype for Business is just ridiculous in this day and age.

          The whole thing is indefensible, this software is pure garbage.

          1. twmaster

            Our new corporate overlords force us to use Lync. What a pile of poop. Even in 2016.

            This junk makes me really miss WebEx.

  5. Kelly

    While Lync is not perfect, I wouldn’t say it sucks. The problems you describe could be attributed to any number of things… network issues, device compatibility, QOS settings, SBC/SBA config,, lack of training (end-user and implementer), and/or lack of product awareness.

    Obviously you are unaware of Lync Persistent Chat (it’s not new). http://blogs.technet.com/b/lync/archive/2012/11/28/what-is-lync-persistent-chat.aspx

    BTW, I’m not an installer and I don’t work for Microsoft. We have recently implemented Lync 2010 with Enterprise Voice (and Persistent Chat). Call quality is not an issue but we do experience issues with call handling that seems directly related to the interaction between Polycom’s BTOE client and the Lync client. There are some other small outstanding issues we’re working through but I don’t “blame” Lync; they are no more or less than we would experience with any complex implementation.

    I wonder, do you have a blog titled “Ten things I hate about SAP”? Now that one I can get onboard with!

    1. simbo1905

      The idea I need “product awareness” or to read about “persistent chat” to make a messaging/VoIP app usable is just the double-think which explains why Lync remains shitty. No-one in the mobile app world would have a product which needs “awareness” to get working or need someone to read about something to stop loosing their chat. I work in a huge global corporation and everyone uniformly thinks Lync sucks. What not implemented correctly should mean “not enough hardware” or “not enough bandwidth” not “a bunch of nuts and bolts hard to arrange into a working product”. We have all the hardware and network and skills in the world. Lync sucks because the user experience across the board sucks. And we know the difference between “great product, great when it works, drops connections or cannot login occasionally due to load/bandwidth” and “it’s a shit product with annoyances across the board and reeks of low quality”. A system is what a system does; if it pisses off users who need more “awareness” then it exists to piss off users as people expect stuff to “just work” like viber, iMessage, WhatsApp, Skype and all the other generations of messaging and VoIP stuff we have all used this century.

    2. Sad Lync'r

      No, Lync sucks and it is because the product is crap. I work for a Fortune 50 company that uses it and am pretty sure it is not an implementation problem as some here have suggested. I’ve worked in technology since the late 80’s and can say with confidence that this application is garbage on Windows and Mac OS X. Can’t speak to iOS since I’ve never been able to get it to even log on successfully, though a myriad of other messaging apps I’ve used over the years work fine.

      I also have been a consultant at Microsoft for the last year and can tell you that the Microsoft employees don’t seem to care for it any more than the rest of us. It is actually quite comical to hear what the folks in Redmond have to say about Lync, Windows, Office, etc…

  6. Bryan

    Wow in two years you haven’t reached out to a professional to get your LYnc setup fixed. All of these problems are typically configuration issues. Especially If you tell me screen sharing doesn’t work. I have a 700 person company here that run 300 conferences a day with screen sharing and it works beautifully.

    Lync is a product you actually have to manage, it’s not like a mac (paperweight), how much work do you actually accomplish on a tablet or smart phone anyways? I use an iPhone, the amount of real work I can get done on it is minimal…but anyways I digress…go forth and keep on hating on Lync my friend, as long as it makes you feel better.

    personally I am not a fan of apple myself, I just moved to a Android…(Lync works great on it)

    1. Elias C.

      Oh yeah, Lync works great on Android? You mean how it files chats I have with the same contact into about 37 different conversations in the same list? Or, do you mean how it doesn’t sync a damn thing with the desktop (Microsoft: “by design”)? Or, perhaps you mean how it doesn’t notify properly and just pops up with “missed conversation” (and a 38th conversation box) 20 minutes after. And then you have to respond through that conversation with that person, not the previous one, even though its the same contact.

      Lync for Android is rubbish, just as it is rubbish for iOS and, frankly, rubbish in general. Don’t let people prattle on about this “oh, it’s just ’cause your a hipster Apple user’ business.

    2. DoNotGodComplex

      The fact that you call the Mac a “paperweight” automatically renders your comment untrustworthy and very unprofessional– and I don’t even use Macs.

    3. Syltty

      ” All of these problems are typically configuration issues. ”

      I wonder why consumer product like Skype do not have these issues?

      As a VoiP Lync / Skype for Business is inferior to Skype.

  7. Pingback: Lync’s Failed Promises in Business Communication | Communication Matters

  8. Ken

    The lack of capability mentioned in this (and the previous) article are valid complaints. With MS Lync morphing into Skype for Business, however, I think you are going to see the gap filled between the consumer grade and business grade experience. Under Microsoft’s new leadership, they are doing a fair job of transforming themselves into a cloud-based / subscription-based software services company. Microsoft will take over this unified voice market unless they do something colossally stupid to put themselves on par with Cisco’s colossally stupid past moves (which were to strangle the market, Scrooge-style, for every penny they could get).

    Cisco is so worried about recent market shifts that they have attempted to give much of their offerings away just to hold onto market share. Companies are leaving Cisco voice in droves. Why? Because Cisco’s business strategy has been and continues to be to “fill up the network”. To force customers to buy big (Cisco) hardware. Lots of it. They have no incentive to create a reasonable network footprint. That is why companies continue to abandon their voice products.

    The bugginess / lack of stability / lack of quality you mention in this article is inaccurate. The current version of Lync (Lync 2013) is stable and it works well, even in large environments. Saying otherwise might be true of your experience in your environment, but a poor Lync install doesn’t make Lync a poor product.

    Lync works IF: 1) You have a sound network environment with appropriate QOS. 2) You have an adequate Session Border Controller (such as a correctly sized and configured Audiocodes). 3) You have a trained IT staff that knows how to maintain and troubleshoot the solution. 4) You have a trained user community who knows how to use the solution.

    While I can commiserate with your capability issues (we need to see the first version of Skype for Enterprise to see where Microsoft is taking the product to see if better days are ahead), your so-called stability issues are, in 95% of the cases, entirely fixable. In nearly all cases, the issues most complained about are self-inflicted by running incompatible/outdated/undersized/misconfigured infrastructure either at the SBC, network, server or PC level.

    If it makes you feel better to say that Microsoft lacks stability when it is running in an unstable environment, then fine, but it weakens the other points in your article which have validity.

    Let’s see what the future brings. While our Lync 2013 environment runs well in our environment, I can definitely agree that more capability should be in Microsoft’s future offerings.

    -Ken

    1. simbo1905

      What training does a user need to hit a call button, share screen button, or other Lync feature? I mean what can a user really do wrong or get confused about? All the Lync apologists keep on hinting it’s partially a user problem. Like users are idiots who pull out their power cable before trying to do screen sharing and they need training to tell them the computer needs to be left powered on for Lync to work. Bullshit. It does nothing complex from a users logical perspective although yes all the details of how it works are complex with millions of dollars and man centuries of work to evolve. The complaint is that Lync make it look hard to get any of this right. Any muppet in a few several hundred man shop with new machines and simple setup should be able to get it to work. Yet this is supposed to be polished enterprise software from the company who can. But somehow it’s the users who lack awareness contributing to the problem or companies not calling in a microsoft professional to get it configured. Horseshit.

  9. Shane

    There seems to be a great cross-section of yay-sayers and nay-sayers of Lync. I’m wondering if John could get a discussion going about the alternatives.
    I’m not sure if many of the commentors are in a position to be able to compare Lync with other comparable products (I don’t mean Skype).

    We have transitioned from a Lync pilot to a Cisco-based solution and I have found Cisco’s product lacking, albeit reliable. My biggest issue with their product is user interface…want an example? Jump on the Apple Store and try and figure out which ‘Jabber’ app you need to download.

    I find it almost humorous that the same counter-arguments defending Lync could actually be applied to our crappy Cisco solution as well.

    As the saying goes – “Different horses for different courses”. This may just be the problem – there is no direct comparison as each product tries to uniquely present itself to the market…much like the multi-function printer market.

    1. John Appleby Post author

      I had a conversation about this with a friend who works as a Lync implementor at a party the other night, and it echoes the discourse on this blog.

      Basically, the implementors love Lync and the users hate it. For some reason, the technical folks that implement Lync seem to think that it’s our implementation that’s broken. Amusingly, they don’t realize that their users hate Lync too.

      I’m not sure what causes such a huge disconnect. For instance, I quite like Outlook/Exchange. It’s not perfect, but it fits my needs nicely. Same for the Office suite. The apps are stable and reliable and there’s no fuss. Even SharePoint is tolerable for what it does, though our implementation needs some love.

      Why such a big disconnect with Lync?

      On the comparison, I can’t really help – I’m just a grumpy Lync user after all! Is the Cisco solution no better? I’ve used their IP phones and those seem great.

  10. Admin80

    The problem with Lync is always network related, not the product. Let me try to work in less geeky terms because it can start to get a little too technical. I implement Lync, so I have a lot of experience with good and bad implementations

    Right off the bat, if you want any sort of Unified Communications and you don’t have the proper network and QoS in place, stop right now and spend money on the network upgrade. We’re talking throughput, routing configurations, QoS, proper hardware, qualified gateways (Don’t try to use Cisco gateways with Lync, Cisco hates Microsoft and they don’t play nice. Cisco is a frustrating company with a virtual monopoly on network hardware.) Use a Sonus SBC or if you like to live dangerously, get an Audiocodes.

    IP telephony on it’s own doesn’t necessarily require a sound network (pun intended), but UC does. It is presence, conferencing, video, sharing, voice, etc. This requires a proper Lyncpool setup, which means you follow best practices and don’t start it if you aren’t ready to. MOST companies that try it don’t do it right and the user buy-in is low. If it doesn’t work when you launch it, people will think it never works and ignore when it does.

    If you think there is a better product out there, you are wrong. Jabber is the closest thing and Cisco (being as pig-headed as they are) does not get it. Cisco is just does not integrate as well. Federation isn’t there, the client is clunky, and setting up is downright painful.

    People often wonder why WebEx or Gotomeeting works for them but Lync doesn’t. Those collaboration services are built on technically correct and robust networks, and their office is not. You’re IT staff likely knows this and can’t do much about it anyway because it’s not a cheap undertaking. However, Lync is a less expensive solution overall, which is part of the reason it makes people jump right in. Getting your finance team to approve money for infrastructure just because of a “phone system” is hard. They don’t get UC, and don’t understand that the old desk phones they had before we’re 1/10th the capability and complexity of any basic VOIP solution Cisco or Avaya was putting out for years and years.

    Let me tell you that if you deploy Lync as intended, by following best practices (Which you would do with ANY software or hardware you buy) then your users will realize what they’ve been missing.

    Is Lync perfect? No, but it’s the stick by which all other UC and VOIP solutions are measured.

    1. mattdarwin2015

      “Lync is the stick by which other VOIP solutions are measured” – hahahaha!

      No, SKYPE is the stick by which other VOIP solutions are measured. I use both, in the office, for work, and skype is far superior, for reasons including:
      persistent chatrooms / group chat
      asynchronous: messages will reach someone when they log in
      better stability / reliability: dropped calls, crashes, etc
      cross-platform support : Lync on my phone is useless
      Linux support:
      It’s free! and doesn’t need a sys admin to set it up!
      better user experience: I don’t want 3 different chat windows per conversation, thanks very much

      and FYI we are a company with a market cap of $96bn, so this is not a tinpot installation.

    2. Sam Denton

      I work from home for a Fortune 500 company. My logical network is a VPN into my corporate network. My physical network is WiFi connecting to AT&T. My employer allows everyone to use the MS product, and field personnel such as myself to use WebEx. In my experience WebEx works way better than Lync did, and somewhat better than Skype for Business (which we just moved to).

        1. John Appleby Post author

          I’d be interested in a cost comparison of Webex and Lync, though they certainly don’t have use-case parity.

          In my opinion Lync is not an IM product either, at least not in a 21st century sense. It lacks proper message persistence, multiple devices, and public/private rooms, plus the ability to add restricted external users easily.

          My team has moved to Slack for IM, and join.me for conferencing. In fact, Slack is quietly taking over Lync in my company as an underground movement.

          1. Phil

            As I stated earlier, Public and private chat rooms have been available for some time with the Persistent Chat role deployed. Persistent messages across multiple devices is a feature in the latest server and client releases, with iPhone and a Droid clients coming out very soon.

          2. Arthur Gilbreath

            John, I’d love to show you what we’re doing here at Zoom! We have a persistent chat, high quality screen sharing for PC, Mac, iOS, and Android. We also can talk to any H.323/SIP room system. We are NOT buggy. We are an All-in-One solution that is taking the market one customer at a time. Same engineers that created WebEx and worked at Cisco are now at Zoom.

            Best part, is implementation is flawless. No hardware is involved other than helping clean up our customer’s existing hardware and inputting our Zoom Room solution.

            Check out my link from LinkedIn I posted yesterday about Zoom. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/david-battles-goliath-saas-sales-arthur-gilbreath-iii?trk=pulse_spock-articles

    3. Hans Carpenter

      >Right off the bat, if you want any sort of Unified Communications and you don’t have the proper network and QoS in place, stop right now and spend money on the network upgrade.

      NO ALTERNATIVE SOLUTION NEEDS YOU TO UPGRADE YOUR NETWORK.

      Ouch!

  11. DG PMule

    John,

    I’m surprised you were disappointed at the oppositional comments from your last blog It’s the internet. Any time you voice an opinion, there is always a line of Stockholm Syndrome inflicted people ready to stick up for something they are either blindly following, or actually know nothing about in the first place.

    I could complain about how I don’t like the smell of farts, and these same people would be ready to tell me how sweet they are. I could state demonstrable evidence about farts that cause me to dislike their odor, and they would tell me my personal opinion about farts is wrong and it must have been something I ate. Or, perhaps I have a virus or a bacterial infection that makes them smell worse. It must just be me, who knew?

    People also will argue against you just for the sake of arguing. They might not even believe in their argument, but are certain to include any number of logical fallacies to support it. The once silent army of keyboard warriors grows each day, and they always be ready, Caps Lock keys loaded, to provide a counter-claim to anything anyone comments about.

    1. John Appleby Post author

      I’m the blog owner so I could have moderated the comments and chose not to, which should tell you something 🙂

      The noise on the internet, the trolls and disagreement, don’t disappoint me. At least this isn’t like a YouTube comments thread…

      That wasn’t my point though. My point was I’m disappointed in the Lync administrators. By and large, they seem totally blind to the issues that Lync has, which means that Microsoft probably isn’t getting the feedback they need to improve the product. The comments on this blog are polarized between users (I hate Lync) and administrators (Lync is awesome, you’re just doing it wrong).

      That lack of self-awareness is what disappoints me.

  12. Phil

    Yes, the OP obviously had implementation issues, even if they don’t care to admit it.

    Here’s an easy way to fix your screen sharing issues, and perhaps more:

    Figure out a way to duplicate the problem. It’s happening all the time so this shouldn’t be a problem. Open a Microsoft TAC case using your agreement or a couple hundred bucks. Shown them the issue. They will work on it until it is fixed.

    You are welcome.

    1. Keith Miller

      “the OP obviously had implementation issues”… You obviously didn’t read his full post. He addresses it under point #10.

      I work for a software company that has been using Lync/Communicator since 2009. We have >3000 employees and Lync has been a pain point every freakin’ day in the last 5 years for me and many that I work with. Every call, every meeting, we never know if it’s going to work. Our company is an IT company, yet, somehow, our IT people cannot get Lync to work right? So either Lync is excessively convoluted to set up (that we haven’t got it right in over 5 years), it requires network infrastructure that does not yet exist (or only exists in M$’s Lync test lab), our IT people are incompetent (yet they manage to administer every other system reasonably successfully) or there’s a problem with Lync. I can tell you what my money is on.

      I fail to understand how using an ISDN connection in 2003 I could have perfect voice calls with someone on the other side of the world using Skype, yet in 2015 with a 20Mbps connection, I cannot do the same thing with someone in the same country, using Lync.

      Over the years I took enough screen shots of asinine things happening in Lync that I was able to create a 1680×1050 resolution mosaic wallpaper of Lync bugs. Including, but not limited to contact photos not matching up with contacts (e.g., female picture, male name), people showing as off-line, yet they are talking in a meeting, or even presenting in the meeting. Contacts showing as “presence unknown”, yet they are talking or presenting. Someone showing as away for 10 minutes, yet 1 minute later they are showing as away for 5 minutes (reminds me of a scene from Snatch where Turkish is asking when the sausages will be ready). Every error message and/or excuse under the sun why things aren’t working right, or why the call has been disconnected or why sharing isn’t working, or invites aren’t working. Crashes, unresponsive windows, contact searches that don’t work, contacts appearing several times over, Lync randomly not being able to detect an audio device that every other application can detect, text messages taking minutes to send (if they even make it at all), and so on. It really never seems to end.

    2. John Appleby Post author

      We now run Lync in the Microsoft cloud and it sucks just as much as it always did. We did open a case with Microsoft and my, that was a miserable experience for me as a user. There were over 200 emails, phone calls, and it took months of duration, days of my time, and achieved nothing.

      Actually to be fair, Lync does suck less, but the world has moved on (Slack, for example) much faster than Lync has, so Lync feels worse than it did.

    3. Steve Steiner

      Or do what I, and most of my colleagues, do and use something else. Slack for chat and Zoom for meetings. Problem solved. People vote with their feet. Lync sucks. Period.

  13. Nick Izk

    I don’t have any experience with hosting Lync on-site but as an administrator whose been using Office 365 since beta, Lync is the buggiest product our users struggle with the most.

    Lync 2013 is atrocious and forced upon all users if they want Office 2013. It’s intrusive if you hover your mouse in the wrong place when you begin to type (annoying popups that interrupt key typing), they have 2 emoticons in the message window, 1 for feedback and 1 for actual smileys but its so poorly laid out I find myself sending accidental feedback nearly every time.

    Lync 2010 is far better, but completely broken when you try to integrate it with conversation sharing or calendar status updating (constant credential popups, never wants to authenticate — spent 6 hours with MS troubleshooting and they came back with “Upgrade to 2013”).

    But the largest issue is its reliability. Right now, I can’t send messages to half our users out there (“This message may not have been sent to User XX because there was no response from the server.”) but I am able to send a message to my coworker 1′ away. There are no issues going on from a Lync service perspective so its not in any faulty state (unless you count the regular service state of Lync being faulty). We’ve also had to keep WebEx and Gotomeeting for the countless time that Lync just cannot handle meeting with vendors reliably (choppy presentations or audio — Webex and Gotomeeting and even Skype work without any of these issues).

    What is just sad and embarassing, is going back in time about 10 years ago, the AIM messenger (heck even MSN messenger) was so far better laid out, reliable, and lighter (1/1000 the size of the Lync client) and here we are with a bloated product that barely works even from Microsoft’s own hosted environment. Even our voicemail client software (Shoretel Communicator) from 5 years ago has been far more stable with IM and voicemail than Lync ever was.

  14. Michael Sharp

    We are actively testing Lync 2013 for IM and I have to say I’m not a fan. To communicate with others, it requires too many clicks. If someone sends me a message, why do I have to accept it, open up the client, then reply? I should be able to reply directly from the notification. We’ve tried a few add-ons (toast, etc) to allow better notifications, but it’s still cumbersome. We want a simple IM to shoot quick messages to each other and Lync falls short for our needs. The plan was to try and use Lync to replace our existing call announcing/IM solution, then add-on additional features (conferencing, phone integration, etc). After our initial tests of the IM portion, I’m very hesitant on moving forward into the more advanced integration.

    Looking for alternatives.

    1. simbo1905

      Micheal are you *sure* its not your “user awareness” which is out of step here as suggested by the comments from Lync implementors on this chat?

      Take for example my lack of awareness of how to use Lync 2013 today:

      * Colleague had prevously shared his desktop then stopped presenting. The “stage” was showing. When his chat came into focus it covered my working windows. It had “hide stage” in the middle. I clicked it.
      * Colleague needed to share with me again. His chat was in narrow form. He was talking to me on a desk phone and saying “can you see my screen yet” (note: everyone always has to say that on all calls because someone always says ‘no, not yet’ but thats a different “user awareness” issue).
      * So his desktop is not showing. So I said “Gee Lync sucks, you know I was just commenting on a blog yesterday. Like I cannot see your screen.” then i start right clicking and clicking on stuff and after a few attempts I change the “view” icon on the bottom right next to the “…” button.
      * “Hey I got it to work. I can see your desktop now”. “oh”, he replied “how did you do that because it keeps on happening to me” Clearly this is a “user awareness” matter as now I am “aware” and he isn’t! Joy!
      * “Well I changed the view on the bottom rig… oh, I can see your desktop, you dont have that icon on the chat window you can see. Gee Lync sucks!”
      * “What icon?” he is now clicking around looking for it and checking menus. So we are yet again in the one-lost-minute-of-lync-sucking which is is traditionally seen per meeting per day.
      * “Let me send you a screenshot of what I see”. So i screenshotted my screen and sent it to him.
      * “Oh, he says, why the hell do I not have that icon. Gee Lync sucks!”
      * “Hum, maybe because I had previously hidden the stage, but you havent done that on the chat to me, and the icon only magically appears to allow you to solve that. Gee Lync Sucks!”

      This clearly demonstrates that whist Lync does suck there is also a lack of awareness of how many permutations of sucking that Lync has and users should spend more time becoming aware of them. Eventually we will be aware of them all and rather than Lync sucking we would just move along and know how to solve simple things like “I cannot see your screen”.

  15. Keith Miller

    Back here again… Can’t even have a text chat with a colleague at the moment without Lync spewing all sorts of error IDs and tips for best practices using Lync. FFS! It’s utter sh!te!

    Microsoft Comic Chat, back in 1999, with dial-up, was more reliable.

    Select some text in a Lync chat, so you can post it into an e-mail in the hope it gets to the recipient quicker? Nope… Lync will make that a huge PITA. It’s half cocked at best. I managed to close all my conversation windows, before being able to copy the piece of chat that I wanted.

    LYNC seriously has to be an April fool’s joke. There is no other explanation!

  16. Donovan

    Bottom line is that Lync is pure rubbish…

    I found it especially Interesting the differing replies; with users of Lync pointing out all the problems and admins/integrators saying any and all problems are just bad implementations. That in itself is a big tell tell sign. We have been using lync for a couple of years now and we regularly interact with many clients that use lync. No end user from my company or any company we have ever met are happy or even satisfied with lync.

    There are so many issues and problems that make the product a pain to use. From the moronic way it does chat history all the way to basic usability and reliability. There are so may flaws with this product that it will be very hard to fix without a complete rewrite.

  17. afafaf

    Wanted to share my experience as well hoping it might save someone else from going through what I went through. The goal for us was to replace different solutions currently in use with one solution. I’ll share some general information and will talk mainly about Lync as conferencing tool to replace WebEx.
    So these are the issues we encounter so far with Lync 2013:
    1. Virtualization – if you’re going to virtualize Lync make sure can provide the required resources according to MS documentation otherwise you won’t get their support. This means that you need to hard-allocate all of the required resources and can’t use dynamic allocation!
    Lync do not allow you to use many benefits of virtualization so combining this fact together with the hard-allocation requirement really makes you think twice about virtualizing the solution. For example if you have 3 FE servers each one with hard allocated 8 cores and 32 GB of RAM, hosted on 8 cores server then you can’t use the host for other VMS. So you spend a few VMware licenses where it really makes no sense as you can’t enjoy basic virtualization benefits like HA, DRS etc..
    2. Lync and telephony – people who have no previous telephony knowledge might think that Lync servers will connect directly to SIP provider for telephony functionality. While technically it might be possible, you’ll never do it and will use voice gateway. Voice gateways are not cheap so please be aware.
    3. If you’re planning using headsets make sure your users have compatible ones, simple headsets will not do the work and you might have tons of noise.
    4. Lync and Cisco integration – I’m not talking about getting Cisco phones to work with Lync but using Cisco gateways for PSTN with Lync. We manage to setup the trunk but has tones of problems and instability so really think twice and especially if you have complex telephony setup.

    Lync vs WebEx:
    1. Recordings – this is a painful one and has a few issues:
    a. With Lync, session recording is done on the client machine. You can purchase 3rd party solution to record at the server level but the available solution are very few and require beast infrastructure together with a very high price tag. So if your organization need to record session and provide access to these recordings this is a real pain as users need to record and upload the files manually.
    b. With Lync, you can’t record a session if you join the meeting with phone. In order to record a meeting the recording computer must have audio device and must join the meeting with this device.
    c. With Lync you can record in 3 resolutions:
    i. 480p – the native size is very small so you can’t see the text on the recorded screen. If you starch the video to bigger size, the quality is so bad that you can’t see anything. So if you need to record a desktop sharing session, this is useless.
    ii. 720p – this one has acceptable quality but the recording size is twice the size of WebEx recording. This require double the storage space and since users need to upload their recordings (as servers side recording is not available), will double the time of uploading the files.
    d. After the recording is completed on the user computer, Lync needs to compress the file. With 1-2 hours recording this can take long times (unless you have very strong machine and do nothing else at the time).
    2. Web client – here we encountered some really annoying issues as well:
    a. Chrome and Lync don’t play together, if you must join meetings with Chrome think 1000 times before choosing Lync. You can find explanations, workarounds and a lot of other BS but in the end of the day you want to provide your customer with working solution and not waste his time with excuses. I was expecting that Microsoft will fix it by updating the Chrome plugin but this is not the case so you need to tell your customers not to use Chrome.
    b. The stability of the Lync web client is other painful issue – imagine conferencing with a few customers and for some of them the browser just crashes in the middle of the conference. This happens a lot and really annoy the hell out of the customers. So unless you don’t really care about your company image, think twice.
    3. Conferences and PSTN – VoIP is very nice idea but in some cases is not an option. When joining a conference from locations with bad internet line you might want to allow the participant to call in via PSTN. Here are some issues:
    a. Say you need to provide toll-free number for customers located in some country. Now if you have more than one Lync pool and meetings with these customers might be hosted from each one of these pools, you’ll need to purchase one number for each pool.
    b. Say you have wide base of customers located in many different countries and you need to provide dial-in access for all of these – you’ll have to find provider which can guarantee good enough voice quality for all of these locations.
    c. Say a user is hosted in pool A and needs to join a conferences hosted by user on pool B. the user is traveling and located in an area with bad internet line and wants to join the meeting with phone. The user choses ‘Call me at’ and ask Lync to call his number. Since in Lync call me at is done based on the user policy, pool A will call the user and will connect to pool B. so the path will be: user > pool A > pool B. this might result in a very bad voice quality depends on the user location.
    4. Desktop sharing and presentation – till now we can’t get this one to work as it seems we will have to do some infrastructure adjustment which are not simple and involve extra expenses. Microsoft will tell you that Lync was designed to work with S2S VPNs and bad internet lines but in real life the experience is so bad that is not usable.
    5. Meeting invite formatting – Lync allow you to add conference dial-in information, company logo, help link and some other details to the meetings invite. However the ability to control the look of the invite is very limited and the out-of-the-box look is not very good.
    6. Join meeting from other organizations with Lync client – say you send a meeting invite to customer who uses Lync in his organization as well. The client will click ‘Join the meeting’ and his Lync client will launch but fail to join the meeting. The customer will have to use Web-Client and in order to do so he has to add a parameter to the meeting URL and paste in his browser. Want to get it to work? NP, just set a federation with the customer organization. But what is if I can’t or don’t wont to? Well ask Microsoft.
    To sum up, Lync might be nice solution in very specific scenarios. If your company is distributed across many locations, need to connect with wide variety of external customers, need to integrate with existing telephony systems and in general looks for some robust tool for conferencing, think many times before going in this direction.

    1. simbo1905

      >To sum up, Lync might be nice solution in very specific scenarios. If your company is distributed > across many locations, need to connect with wide variety of external customers,

      I think the problems came about in that Microsoft uses Lync, and they are distributed across many locations, but they don’t need to connect with a wide variety of external customers, as they don’t listen to them, so they haven’t figured out that it is no good.

    2. Hans Carpenter

      It is 2016 and some software needs a browser plugin????? Lync^H^H^H^HSkype for Business team have apparently never heard of WebRTC … while you are at it, if you could get the Office team to implement SVG support (a 1.5 decade old vector image format that Office is the only software not to support, they want to push their WMF – ROFL), thanks!

      Actually, Lync is a failure because it is not modular, and overly complex. The ui design team at Redmond has been pants since around 2005 (the ribbon generation and later).

      They renamed Lync to Skype for Business because Lync had such a bad reputation, now, they are killing their Skype brand … how ingenious!

  18. Steve

    So I’m REALLY wanting Lync Server 2013 to be a reliable solution for video conferencing, but I’ve had several issues to the point where I can’t see it as a reliable or consistent business tool. Here are some of the things I’ve experienced over the past month or two:

    1. Audio – A user MUST have a microphone plugged in in order to hear the meeting. This is unacceptable and a burden to tell people who I need to participate in a meeting using Lync Web App JUST TO LISTEN they need a microphone…

    2. LWA installation – There have been numerous reports of external users who can’t get the Lync Web App to install successfully and it’s near impossible to troubleshoot this issue or to tell a user they have to modify their systems in order for it to work: Can’t use Chrome, or you have to go into the configuration settings and change [xxx], or that Windows 7 won’t work or your video drivers need updating or whatever it is.

    3. Skype Federation – In order for an external user to join a meeting using Skype they are required to log into Skype with a Microsoft account. If they don’t have a Microsoft account and don’t want one, it won’t happen.

    My company previously used GoToMeeting with none of these issues. I need an external user to be able to successfully install a plug in and join a meeting without incident. Trying to use a tool like Lync that has issues such as these is BAD BUSINESS. Our company looks bad, I look bad, like we don’t have our act together.

    And it’s TOTALLY unfeasible for me to troubleshoot issues with external users/clients: “Oh, hi, Mr. CEO of ABC company. I’m sorry you’re not able to connect to have a meeting with us. If you have a few minutes, let me ask you this list of 13 questions to try and resolve your issue.” … NOT!

    And these issues are for simple conferencing. How can I recommend that we use this product for EV when it won’t even work to hold a simple online meeting??? I can’t.

    I can’t have a tool only work 80% or even 90% of the time. It’s just gotta work. BTW, I found this post by searching on Google for “Lync Sucks” because I’ve just about had it with this P.o.C.

  19. Phil

    Most of these complaints have been addressed in Skype for Business, which I assume nobody has upgraded to since they keep referring to Lync.

    1. John Appleby Post author

      We run the cloud Office 365 version of Lync, which is presumably Skype for Business, and it sucks even more than it did before.

  20. Phil

    Sounds like you have other issues. Persistent messaging, etc are all present in the latest release. On the mobile client side, the Skype for Business client is needed but is not out for all platforms just yet.

    1. John Appleby Post author

      I don’t believe that Skype for Business has been released on any of the platforms I run – Mac, iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch. I logged into the iPhone version recently and cursed myself days later when I reopened it and found a pile of unread messages and no notifications.

      Maybe it will get better, as per the software paradox, “in the next version”

      1. Phil

        Yes, it’s not fixed just yet except on Windows and Windows Phone , but the new mobile client uses server side technology to persist message delivery and avoid the problem you describe. Android and iPhone clients are in beta testing now, so hopefully another month or so before general release.

        Phil

  21. Orhan

    Lync 2013 really sucks….

    We have started using it a week ago (so all the latest releases, versions, etc), so what I can tell from now:

    1. Extremely laggy
    2. Visual impression – sucks, fonts, buttons, responsiveness….
    3. SHitty and laggy voice and video – and I am talking about internal conference, carried out on the internal network (clean 1 gbit/s connection from clients to datacenter core without oversubscription), and only with 2 participants. Today I was also having a demo conference with Zoom.us – man, that was fast, no lags, so surprisingly good…considering it was done over Internet, Nx times better than Lync.

    It seems to me that it is better (or at least less costly) to use really working open source pieces of software.. or at least Sametime..

  22. Dave

    Skype for business is just Lync rebranded. It is still the old UC/Lync/now Skype bits and terrible architecture. Most other services run solely over SSL/TLS which almost everyone has properly NAT’d on their networks. Lync uses an INSANE number of ports that appear to have never been conceived to properly operate across firewalls. Its from the era that Microsoft didn’t get security and they have never resolved that. Look at this diagram:

    https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/gg425891.aspx

    This is a product that was NEVER designed to work between two organizations with properly configured firewalls (i.e. limiting both inbound AND outbound traffic, while MITM inspecting SSL/TLS). People say WebEx is more expensive. We paid for it and had the whole company up running and trained on it in 30 days. I actually am not a fan of Cisco’s pricing models due to a long history with their products but this is one that is rock solid. It enabled productivity with little to no administration other than enabling/disabling users. The money I save on support and consulting more than makes up the difference.

    I’m running Office 2016 and I really like the fact that if an outside vendor sends me a Lync invite it just pops up the Skype for Business App assuming I’m a customer. No option to load the Web App (which never works either) or anything. The final irony was that I was supposed to have a call with our Microsoft Rep today, but he had to reschedule because he couldn’t get his Lync/Skype for Business session to work. Ugh!!!

    1. Phil

      Your problem, Dave, is that Lync is a full fledged PBX replacement, and not a clone of Webex. Thus, you have ports such as SIP and XMPP that Webex would never use. Also, the bits are assuredly not the same in SfB as discussed earlier.

  23. Antonious Colts

    It’s amazing how terrible this product really is, considering the vast amount of resources it requires to get it up and running. Three servers needed to operate it. Front End, Edge, and Reverse Proxy. So stupid…

    The amount of work necessary to get all the pieces to communicate is staggering. Internal certs, external certs, topology, provisioning, replication, DNS, Edge Certs (Internal and External), ARR, PIC, etc… Plus you will inevitably end up installing Snooper, Tracing, Connectivity Analyzer, Fiddler and the like to figure out what the hell it is even doing. Not that it helps, errors are often useless. E_Authentication x,x,x Which makes you flips things on and off to see what security bit might bring it back to life, only to discover that you just publish the topology again and it just decides to work for awhile.

    Install the client on an external machine, try to connect, it spins and fails. Quit the client, then restart the client, it connects without any issue. Why? Dumb.

    The mobile client is unbelievably bad. Why is it that I have 15 conversation windows from the same contact? And only one of those will allow me to reply, if I’m lucky. I’m a software developer, and there is no way we’d release something that behaved this way. It’s fascinating that Microsoft has been working on this product for almost a decade, and it is still this crappy. The Skype for Business / Lync team must be made up of one junior programmer who works on it in his spare time when not emptying out the trash cans of the real developers in the office.

    I absolutely love that the Desktop Client works inside the building, and the Mobile Client works inside and outside the building, but the Desktop Client won’t work outside the building unless you have an Edge Server setup. The mobile client doesn’t need it, but the desktop client does. Brilliant! The line I got from the Support folks was that with the Edge server, I can use the other features it was designed for, like the phone features that i have no interest in using. Great! Glad I have to get a SAN certificate for those little unused extras.

    I will say this, I’ve learned a lot by installing this product. My skills in networking have grown leaps and bounds having had to struggle through every possibility of why it doesn’t work right. And I’m a total master of Googling issues.

    For instance, on one post, on one website, near the bottom of a thread, someone mentions casually that on Windows 2012, the ARR software doesn’t pass NTLM authentication through to the client, and that you have to run a patch on ARR to make it work with Lync. Wasn’t installed automatically with Windows Updates or anything. Just some ancient patch that is sitting out there waiting to be found. I can only imagine how many people who tried to get mobile working, gave up, assuming Lync was just a POS and moved on to something else.

    I’d pay money to watch Satya Nadella try to install this software on his own and get it working.

  24. Rico

    Funny how this is the first thing that comes up when you Google search “Lync Sucks” and i agree totally with you. Why are enterprises so blind to this? I encourage anyone looking into Skype for Business or Lync to consider using Hangouts or even Facebook messenger. It’ll be 1000% more reliable, the features all work without tweaking the hell outta it and it does mobile right….

  25. Ben

    A few comments about Gurdeep Pall’s article that I cannot wrap my head around: “simplify and unify”?? I have polled numerous IT shops and colleagues… all agree there is *nothing* simple about Skype for Business because it is so problematic. Users are not happy, they’re frustrated!!

  26. simbo1905

    The other day I got a reminder about how unsatisfactory the product is as a user. In the middle of a Skype for business presentation I was giving colleagues started to text message me questions on my cell phone as they were unable to get a question across with the tool. Never had that problem with other collaboration and conference tools.

    1. GeorgeK

      Based on your previous response, you are obviously not qualified to install Skype for Business. For example, ARR is not the recommended method for implementing the reverse proxy function. You had to call Support to ask about the Edge server, (which is free, by the way).

      And I’m not quite sure what other on premise collaboration tools you’ve all been implementing. There are none! Anyone do a n on premise Webex server? They don’t even recommend it for anyone but the largest customers.

      1. simbo1905

        Actually I have never been involved in the installation of SoB. I have only been forced to use it. Last time I posted my experiences here I was working at a global investment bank. This time I am posting my experience at a major government department. All the organisations where I have used SoB are extremely well funded and pay through the nose for microsoft support contracts and consultancy. One thing I would say is that the sorts of companies that I work for are never simple places to work as a technologies they have complex environments and several hundred business apps. Then again one would have thought that as microsoft isn’t some little startup they would have experience of making software work in complex client environments.

        1. simbo1905

          Actually come to think if it you are part of the problem. You think its acceptable that there is software that repeatedly gives a poor customer experience and that its acceptable that it “appears to work but doesn’t work well” unless the company implements it “is qualified”. Just paying for the software should “qualify” the customer to use it successfully.

          Given the repetitional damage to Microsoft due to the low quality of the product you would expect that they would make it “fail fast” and refuse to work in a poorly implemented manner complaining loudly to the end user that “sorry I cannot work right now. please speak to your sysadmin about getting qualified to do his job”. That way folks would do the “obvious fix” and get a “qualified installer” to reinstall it. Then there won’t be the endless productivity issues caused by a badly functioning collaboration and communication tool.

          Yet thats not what SoB does. What it does is give a sucky user experience to a large part of the installation base. That slowly erodes Microsoft reputation with the public and provides countless openings for other firms that are more end-user centric.

          Why does Microsoft not just fix it? Because fixing problems to delight the end user has never been in their DNA. They don’t focus on the end user. The focus on developers, developer, developers and they gold partners who have a cottage industry installing and customising products paying fees to Microsoft. In theory that means that Microsoft just writes the software which is extremely profitable; the cottage industry of partners and developer ecosystem does the labour intensive work of boots on the ground implementing the software at customer sites. That ecosystem competes with itself on costs and has low margin and Microsoft keeps all the gravy with the high margin software license sales.

          Only Microsoft will eventually die because they don’t focus on keeping the end user happy. This means that high quality software just isn’t their focus. Skype for Business is shit because Microsoft don’t care that its shit because they don’t care about the end users of their software.

          1. GeorgeK

            My apologies – I somehow mixed up your name with a previous poster.

            But my final point stands. I have implemented both Cisco / Webex and Microsoft solutions, and neither are turnkey. Cisco, for that matter, is incredibly more complex. The difference is that Microsoft’s tools are a bit more familiar for the average administrator, and I think you end up with additional mediocre installations.

            Ultimately, this tool is neck and neck in the Unified Communications market with Cisco. There are reliable installations – I use it every Tuesday for a critical meeting that involves internal, external, and mobile users.

            If you don’t have a senior Microsoft tech on staff or budget to pay a firm for install, then go Office 365 instead.

          2. Trevor Parsons

            Same experience as you simbo1905. Been on the Communicator/Lync/Skype4B pain train for many years. I’m perpetually in a meeting (that has been going for months) according to Skype and no amount of resetting fixes it. Anyone who says this works reliably hasn’t had to rely on it over a period of time, or doesn’t work in the real world. I just had an important business meeting with a client in Singapore and the call quality got so bad there was no point in continuing. Text messages cannot be relied upon to get through. My company is a major software company and MS partner, but Skype still sucks. I thought when we moved to Office 365 that things would improve, but if anything they have become worse. This is not a deployment/installation issue. It’s a core product issue.

  27. Keith Miller

    I just got out of a meeting where I was talking and someone said something that seemed out of context. Well as it turns out they had said it several minutes BEFORE it got to my end. What kind of telecommunication system sends audio through with a several minute delay? I already hate this software with a passion (since it’s so freakin’ useless), but even with the fact I literally expect nothing good from it, it still manages to amaze me at how bad it can still get.

    1. GeorgeK

      The network between the caller and your server experienced a delay. This could be an issue with the callers Internet or network connection, or a network issue in your datacenter. It would affect all telecommunications systems.

  28. Christopher

    in an 8 hour work day, my lync and skype for business on mac and pc drop 160x per day or more… ive tried everything under the sun, even OS reinstalls JUST for this to work, for work… #microsoft #lyncsucks #skypeforbusinesssucks

  29. psjoel2

    We’ve used personal Skype for years at my company and rarely had any issues. Recently, we were forced to switch to Skype for Business, and it’s absolutely horrible. Granted, we don’t use any of the calling functionalities, so I can’t speak about that. But the IM features are laughably bad. I’m a programmer and if I created anything this bad, I would fire myself.

    I truly don’t understand how it could be this bad, nor do I understand why anybody would actually prefer this over the plethora of other options out there. All I can say is, if you’re thinking of switching to Skype for Business, just don’t do it. Trust me!

  30. Chris

    I’m trying to get messages synced across devices. So I can start a conversation on my PC, head to a meeting, and keep the conversation going on my phone. Or vice versa. And then not keep getting messages on my phone when I’m back at my PC.

    I keep hearing people say that it’s possible, it just needs to be enabled by the administrator.

    Can someone send me a link to directions on how to do this, so I can forward it to our administrators? I’ve searched, but can find nothing about how to do this, just people saying that it’s possible. The only thing I found directly from MS was a knowledgebase answer from April 2015 saying that it’s not possible (https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/kb/2806019). So can someone point me to how to enable this?

Comments are closed.