Learning Lync Online: 4 Important Tips

August 8, 2011  |  No Comments  |  by matkordell@cyberstreams.com   |  Blog, News

I’ve hit a few snags with Lync Online issues and thought I’d share some important lessons for people who want to Learn Lync Online. This is in no way meant to be comprehensive.

Tip 1: Bookmark the error message explanations page from Microsoft

The error messages Lync currently creates don’t really give an admin much of a hint as to what is really going on (hoping they fix this soon).

Luckily, someone at Microsoft seems to know this and created a page which translates the error messages back to english. I’d recommend you bookmark this page now: How to troubleshoot authentication and connectivity issues in Lync Online.

You don’t need to memorize this now, just have it on hand for those helpdesk calls you will eventually field from employees.

Tip 2: Properly prep your office environment

Microsoft releases best practice notes for preparing your office environment (firewalls, servers, etc) for Lync integration. It may be tempting to skip this step when you turn stuff on and everything appears to be working. Don’t!! The last thing you want is to start using your great new Lync service and discover an issue right when it matters (like when you try to hold a phone conference with a big client). Take the time to go through their checklist.

Here is a short hand version:

Open the following ports and reverse proxy servers:

Port Protocol Direction Usage




Audio, video, and application sharing sessions




Data sharing sessions




Audio and video sessions




Audio and video sessions

Enable the following rules to allow all necessary through traffic:

  • Allow outgoing connections to *.microsoftonline.com
  • Allow outgoing connections to *.outlook.com
  • Allow outgoing connections to *.lync.com

  • Set the HTTP/SSL time out value to 8 (eight) hours.

Add the following global DNS CNAME record:

  • CNAME sip. to sipdir.online.lync.com

For business owners reading this, you might want to call your IT guy instead of trying to self tackle these issues. Ultimately what we just did was enable that all traffic and information requests that need to get through to Lync, do indeed get through. If you plan on holding meetings or using Lync to replace your phone system, this is especially important.

Tip 3: Always use Internet Explorer while acting as online Admin

Password request issues have now been replaced with calls from people who have online portal functionality fail to work on other browsers. For example, on Firefox 5 if you try to turn on Lync domain federation the command won’t work (you literally click the button and nothing happens). Sticking with IE is a good rule of thumb for all online portal administration. Office 365 services were designed, tested, and built for IE. You are asking for trouble if you insist on other browsers (this is especially true with SharePoint Online design functionality).

And yes, Microsoft is aware of the issue and plans to have full functionality for all browsers. But they don’t have control over the development aspects of Firefox, Chrome, etc. Often release features in a new browser version will have unintended effects and may take time to integrate properly with Office 365. Just get in the habit of administrating from IE as a best practice.

Tip 4: Spend a moment to learn the differences in Lync clients

Lync Online users can hold remote sessions with non-paying partners and customers. This is done by deploying a meeting request link in an email (File –> Meet now –> click “Join meeting info…” at the top of console –> copy the lync that appears and put it in an email).

When that non-paying user receives the URL-link, they will be prompted to choose between a web-app version of Lync Online or to install a desktop client. The web app has very limited functionality. I’d suggest you play around with it and learn what you can and can’t do (for instance video). Then take a moment and also test the installable non-paying user version, you’ll find this has more functionality, but still can’t do certain things that your in-office full “paid version” of Lync can do.

When you hold that meeting with an important business partner or customer, you want to make sure the version you tell them to install will meet the needs of the meeting. You also want to have a fairly decent grasp on the process so you can talk them through it. It doesn’t take more than 5-10 minutes to play around with these features, I’d say it is time very well spent if you can avoid botching an important conference call with a customer. You should encourage all your users to familiarize themselves as well.

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