Lync Room System Gets a Skype Makeover

Microsoft's teleconferencing software for meeting rooms inherits the new Skype for Business desktop client's look and feel.

Microsoft Skype

Microsoft is getting to work removing some of the last vestiges of Lync, the enterprise communications software platform now known as Skype for Business.

Earlier this year, Microsoft replaced the Lync client app with Skype for Business after a two-year rebranding effort. The software giant not only integrated the formerly separate platforms, it borrowed Skype's distinctive, consumer-friendly look and feel and brought it to business users.

Now, the company is taking that new user experience and applying it to Lync Room System, a conference room solution for conducting and managing remote meetings that piggybacked on an organization's existing Lync deployments, obviating the need to operate a separate teleconferencing setup.

"On Nov. 10, we are rolling out a Cumulative Update to all existing Crestron, Polycom and SMART Lync Room Systems, updating the user interface (UI) and branding to Skype for Business," David Groom, senior program manager, Microsoft Skype for Business, said in a Nov. 6 announcement. "The Cumulative Update will either be applied automatically, or manually, depending on the policy set by the IT admin."

Updated branding aside, the software will remain functionally similar, added Groom. One notable change is a "sleeker, darker design theme, attuned to large-screen viewing."

Introduced in early 2013, Lync Room System is an integrated hardware and software system tailored for meeting rooms. It features high-definition (1080p) video, wideband audio and a desktop conferencing management console. Microsoft teamed up with hardware partners Crestron, Logitech's LifeSize, Polycom and SMART to offer the product to businesses.

Once the update is applied, users will notice a more consistent experience between the desktop and conferencing system software. "The in-meeting UI of the console now also closely resembles the Skype for Business look and feel and includes buttons like Pause Video, Mute Room and New Whiteboard, specific for meetings," Groom stated.

Apart from the new Skype for Business branding, the admin UI remains largely the same. Similarly, customers will be spared the trouble of retraining their users.

"The end-user education, basic meeting room use scenarios go unchanged," Groom stated. "Meeting room organizers will continue to be able to start meetings, share content and change display modalities the same way they did before the Cumulative Update."

One new feature affects privacy settings, enabling users to conduct confidential or sensitive meetings without tipping off IT personnel tasked with maintaining the system.

"Meeting organizers have always had the option of marking a meeting as Private in an Outlook invite, but this prevents executive administrators from being able to see the subject line," explained Groom. "To improve this experience, we've added a feature in this Cumulative Update that allows the room admin to turn the room calendar subject line visibility on or off."

More updates are on the way, including one that will feature expanded hardware support, Groom said. "In the next update, we will continue our mission to span a wider range of meeting room sizes and enable additional cameras and sound systems."

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the network of...