The ten reasons I hate Microsoft Lync the most

I’m stuck with no Microsoft Lync connectivity again, and in my frustration I thought I’d give my top 10 reasons why I hate Microsoft Lync. Maybe someone from Microsoft gives a crap and will do something about their awful collaboration suite.

It’s worth noting that I’m a huge Lync user. I setup tens of calls a week with 1-100 people on them. I call it from my cellphone, from my Mac, from everywhere. And I hate it, unreservedly.

1) Unpredictability

This comes top. I never know if it’s going to work. Each time I set up a conference call I have a moment of Russian Roulette as I click the “join” button. And 50% of the time, there is some kind of problem (see below).

2) Wasted Time

It’s impossible to get a call started on time so you end up wasting an average of 3 minutes at the beginning of a call. That’s 5% of every call, wasted because of people joining late, technical problems etc.

3) Hello? Can you hear me?

This is the Microsoft Lync mating call. Because you’re never quite sure if the other person can hear you. Or whether groups of people can hear each other.

4) Regression Testing

Each time you get a Lync update, you can never be sure what’s going to break. With the current version, for example, I can’t join calls unless I quit and restart the Lync client. And every other call, I can’t hear the other person until I quit and restart the Lync client. Not minor things!

5) Call Quality

The quality of calls is so incredibly variable. Cellphones can play a part, but even with straight PC to PC calls, you never know what’s going to happen.

6) Dropped Calls & Messages

“No Response From the Server” when you send messages. Calls dropping randomly. All of this is a day in the life of Lync.

7) The need to spend time setting up Lync

If you’re an occasional user, forget it. You won’t be able to setup your microphone right, it won’t work, you have to download software to join calls. To use Lync effectively you need to spend time configuring and tweaking it.

8) Mobile Clients

These are abysmal. There is an iPad app but it’s got 2% of the functionality of the Skype iPad app. No calls. No video. No sharing. Why even bother?

9) Collaboration Features

These are the least reliable of all. I can share my screen if I’m on my company VPN and so is the other caller. Sometimes. For some of the call. Sharing PowerPoint? Why bother even trying. Send a file? Never seen it work. All of this stuff works flawlessly on other software like Adobe Connect.

10) Pace of Change

I sort of assume I’m not the only person that feels this way, but Microsoft don’t do anything about it. The rate of change with Lync is zero and it’s as if they don’t invest anything in it. Or care.

Conclusions

I don’t know what to conclude, to be honest, but Lync makes me miserable on a daily basis. So I’m thinking that the best thing to do is to get rid of it and use some other piece of software. But that means change and investment and we have already paid for Microsoft Lync.

It’s also worth noting that I came up with 10 reasons really easily. And probably forgot a bunch. So let me know your top reasons for hating Lync. Do you think Microsoft would give us our money back? 🙂

Advertisements
This entry was posted in Technology and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

22 Responses to The ten reasons I hate Microsoft Lync the most

  1. Dave Simm says:

    It sounds as though your Lync install requires some serious post-installation best practice guidelines following. Please allow me (as an avid supporter, consultant and v.heavy user of Lync) to retort, as constructively as possible.

    Best practice guidelines recommend you should not run Lync via VPN’s, due to the complexities of double encrypting traffic and various NAT concerns. A split-tunnel VPN solution (directing Lync traffic outside of your VPN tunnel) is recommended. More info here….
    http://blogs.technet.com/b/nexthop/archive/2011/11/15/enabling-lync-media-to-bypass-a-vpn-tunnel.aspx

    To address a host of your other concerns i would be checking exact scenarios with your Lync monitoring server. Messages do not fail delivery randomly. Usually, it is due to the nature of one participants Internet connection (3g stick on a train anyone?), VPN issues (see above), or other. Your monitoring server will be able to reveal more on this.

    Microphone and audio issues the same, i have never experienced any of the issues you speak of above. However, i do always attempt to use a wired connection where possible, or my own personal home wi-fi, ie not contested 3g data networks or public hotspots. Lync is an excellent product, but it can’t work miracles digging your traffic through the crowded Starbucks wi-fi. If you’re forced onto these connections, stick with IM&P only, or use the intelligent feedback the Lync client provides. If it’s reporting “poor network quality”, it’s unreasonable to expect a perfect HD call. In which case, switch modality to a gsm call, or, as above, stick with IM&P.

    With reference to your comparison to the mobility clients vs Skype. Consider this… Skype can do it, we all know this. But Skype is free, and Lync is an enterprise grade product. It has to work well every time. Your company paid good money in licensing, hardware and implementation costs for Lync, so there should be no compromise. In short, if we cant guarantee a top quality call or at least report back on why it was poor quality, it wont be enabled.

    To an end, i agree with you, that maybe this functionality should be allowed, maybe with a disclaimer that it’s quality of experience cant be guaranteed, however, above is your bottom line reason it isn’t enabled.

    My overview. I’m a home worker, Lync is my lifeline, i use it all day, every day, and it never lets me down. It consistently provides significantly better audio quality calls than a GSM or landline call will, and at zero cost to me personally. The mobility clients allow me to keep in touch while traveling by IM&P and one touch meeting entry.

    • rhythmninja says:

      {If it’s reporting “poor network quality”, it’s unreasonable to expect a perfect HD call.} – Agreed – on a Cisco Jabber Client, but not a Microsoft Lync Client… 720x 30 max, right?

  2. Jeff says:

    “Do you think Microsoft would give us our money back?”
    I though Lync was supposed to be “free”:)

  3. Pingback: One additional reason to hate Microsoft Lync | The Telepresence Site

  4. Chris Norman says:

    As a person that works for Microsoft I am disappointed to hear that you are having such a poor experience with what is a market leading solution. Like Dave, my own experience with Lync is nothing but positive (although I am already hearing you say well you work for Microsoft) which leads me to believe that there are issues present in your companies implementation of the product or you may be having network issues while remote. I hope you have vented your frustration to your support staff because venting on a blog may offer you some relief in the end its not going to fix your issues.

    Going by the issues you mention its sounds as though most of the work you do is remote. There are a few things you can do to ensure the best experience at your end:

    – Always use a certified headset. Certified headset will usually have a certified sticker on them some where if not check the link below for your headset . This link has a full list of qualified devices. http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/lync/gg278164.aspx (for MAC see next point). This probably covers 70% of issues people encounter. Just using any old POS headset is not going to yield the best results. My best advice is don’t use the PC speakers and Mic. They are not of the best quality or really designed for optimal experience for conference/voice calls.

    – MAC users generally have the hardest time with headset compatibility. Setting you headset as the default device at an OS may be helpful. Lync relies on the operating system for the device settings. Lync does not provide any controls for setting audio and video devices directly.
    Check this wiki article for help fro compatible devices:
    http://social.technet.microsoft.com/wiki/contents/articles/4710.lync-for-mac-2011-devices.aspx

    – Plug USB devices directly into the PC and not a USB hub (like a docking station) if you are having issues. I have seen this be an issue from time to time due to USB driver issues.

    – Although Lync will work just fine over wifi (to use an extreme example – I have used Lync on 3g as a passenger in a car going up i5 on a conference call and it worked just fine), wired Ethernet is the best choice if possible. I know from experience that household wifi can be spotty at best of times so plugging into your network may dramatically improve your experience if network issues are causing you grief.

    Lastly I just wanted to address your last point. Microsoft has just released a preview of Lync 2013 which is the next version of Lync. Included are some of the updates that you mention in your post around mobile with voice, video etc. While this is not RTM yet its not to far off so be assured Microsoft is investing Lync as one of its mainline products and major updates are coming.

    http://lync.microsoft.com/en-us/Pages/Lync-2013-Preview.aspx

    Hopefully your support staff will work with you to resolve your issues and that my reply has to some extent showed that some really does give a crap:)

    Cheers
    Chris

    • John Appleby says:

      Thanks for the reply. I’m not too cynical about the fact you work for Microsoft and I appreciate the time taken. I’ve been working closely with our IT team indeed.

      Headsets. We do indeed have certified headsets but not everyone uses them, which is part of the problem. That’s very hard to police and even certified headsets sometimes pick up a lot of background noise. I usually use my iPhone mic/headphones which I think is great.

      Mac. The iPhone mic/headset work great and it’s not the problem. The feature/function lack of parity is not even so bad although the lack of being able to configure audio like you can in Skype is a pain. The biggest problem is the stability and bugginess of the Mac client. It crashes at least once a day, I often have to quit and restart it and often enough I can see the speaker thingy in Lync moving, but I can’t hear the call. Or can’t accept incoming calls. What I like most is when the Microsoft Crash component then crashes too! That’s just Bad Software!

      Network. The lack of control over network is part of the problem I’m sure and it can be a particular problem with even with ISP bandwidth if we have a very large number of active calls or a very big meeting. And yes, people do sometimes join over 3G which usually sucks. Plus, some countries have really poor internet especially at home, which doesn’t help.

      Configuration. I’m sure our architecture/configuration is part of the problem. I hear the call monitor is useful – and the IT team has used it to improve things lately which is good. Some things like the way we do call routing could be better but that stuff isn’t top of my agenda.

      Lync 2013. It looks interesting and Microsoft have packed in a pile of new features including what looks like proper mobile clients. Question is, have you focussed on the basics? Here’s the things I’d put top of the agenda:

      – Make all the features work reliably like they do in consumer-grade software like MSN or Skype. Test, test and tune.
      – Stabilise the Mac client. Microsoft software is the only software that EVER crashes on my Mac and this isn’t specific to Lync. Read your crash reports, I send you enough of them!
      – Focus on online/offline messaging so messages always get through – on ALL devices. I get too many returned messages. Apple’s iMessage is awesome for this, learn from them.
      – Focus on usability. All the clients have a different and non-native look and feel. Make the user experience excellent. I assume that Microsoft has design thinking and usability consultants but it doesn’t come through in the software.

      My bet is Microsoft focused on all the new stuff and didn’t go for reliability and usability first. Will see.

      • Mikkel Tramm says:

        I am “happy” to hear that i am not the only one experiencing problems with the Mac Client… It really really sucks. Even with the latest update – that’s not even available unless you contact Microsoft Regional Services, the audio device needs to be selected at every call, and the audio stream is choppy. Oh yea, and you need to plug in the headset and open the client afterwards, otherwise the client wont recognize the headset.

        Please oh please Microsoft… Make it work! How hard can it be.

  5. Shane Martin says:

    Hi John,
    I concur with the sentiments that there must be some flaws in the configuration of your Lync infrastructure.
    We have Lync at our University and I would say the strongest part of it is the collaboration tools.
    Video calls, voice only calls etc. have all been good and I have seen/heard it run quite well on some pretty bad lines (ie. on my home ADSL connection which is down more times than it is up).
    That being said, we have not committed to using the enterprise voice portion of it yet, as we still have a sizable deployment if Cisco VoIP equipment. I am also told that enterprise voice is not as strong as the Cisco solution…yet.
    I agree with your comments about configuring a headset (or webcam) – this can be frustrating but I’m more likely to point the finger at the OS rather than Lync itself. There are still a lot of things to do with multimedia that Windows 7 doesn’t seem to be able to handle properly (much like XP’s original inability to handle multiple monitors without 3rd party software).
    I personally would not recommend a ‘USB headset plugged into a computer’ as a replacement for a handset device – it is too much of a jump to ask end-users to take.
    I have heard that the next release of Lync will add some strength to it’s enterprise voice capability and (fingers crossed) a lot of the Skype functionality you mentioned to the smart-device apps.
    I am surprised to hear such a negative attitude to Lync – most of the negatives things I hear are the usual waffle from people who are still sitting in ‘camp Cisco’ who haven’t even tried it.
    I hope my comments bring you some renewed hope that your experience will improve.
    Cheers,
    The boy from Oz

  6. mickrussom says:

    LYNC is used at dell. Its a sad pathetic piece of garbage. Call back doesnt work right (half the time), authentication issues and even on a 20 mbit line, meetings take forever to start. LYNC is the world piece of crap collaboration tool i have EVER used.

  7. Nicolai says:

    I am told that microsoft no longer develop silverlight…on which Lync depends. maybe not Lync 2013?

  8. I’m happy to announce that our new cloud-based solution for Lync video conferencing solves 7 of your 10 problems:

    1) It works great.
    2) It takes 6 seconds to join a multipoint video conference.
    3) Sounds great.
    5) Our solutions supports mulitpoint calls between Lync clients, iPads, iPhones and H.323/Sip endpoints in HD.
    6) If your Lync client doesn’t work, you can just join the same meeting using our free browser client…which also only takes seconds to initiate.
    8) Our mobile client is the most robust in the industry for video.
    10) Microsoft’s pace in the matter has made opportunity for us to develop a robust solution to fill up that which is lacking.

    So perhaps we can help downgrade your hatred to a mild disinterest?

    : )

    Michael

  9. E.W. says:

    as the guy that supports lync at my company i would say most of your problems are probably due to running the lync client on a mac. I have a macbook air and use bootcamp because of all the audio issues with lync (just recently been able to even USE a headset, cmon microsoft!)

    The mac client needs a lot of work, the bluetooth audio is choppy, and the headset ends up with connection issues in lync if anything other than lync sends audio through it.

    Using my same macbook but booting windows 7 via bootcamp is like night and day, the audio is FLAWLESS, no connection problems, no problems with any aspects of lync at all.

    Overall, Lync is one of the best products i think Microsoft has ever made, and it is probably one of the most popular applications in our company (we have about 2500 users on it right now). Microsoft just needs to spend some major time with the MAC client (and for gods sake make a linux client!)

  10. Lync Fan says:

    To be honest I don’t agree with any of the stuff you said about why you hate it. If you are having those problems then whoever set up Lync needs to make it right. Or you need to find someone else that can make it right. All of the problems you mentioned are to do with your set up. I know lots of people that are happy with it. If it is installed and set up correctly and the users are trained on how to use it properly it can be brilliant.

    Name another product that will do all of the things Lync can do TOGETHER on a single platform. Everyone has something that doers one thing, but none of them have anything that does more than one thing well.

    It is still early days with Lync Enterprise voice. If you are having problems then sort out your network, your PC and your phone.

  11. cerita says:

    your problem is not LYNC but MAC

  12. Abdullah says:

    Lync is a great product as long as you are on Windows !

  13. Damain says:

    If you deploy and configure Lync correctly it works fine.

    • John Appleby says:

      A number of comments on this blog say otherwise. I’ve learnt it’s not just me that’s frustrated by Lync. And yet there are a number of IT people who respond by saying “you’re doing it all wrong”. I’m not, I’m just a consumer of the software and everyone I speak to that uses Lync substantially, hates it – from many companies, large and small. And every time I talk to someone from an IT department, they say we’re doing it wrong.

      One of the major findings is that Lync is much worse on the Mac than on the PC, but why should I care? To my mind it is up to Microsoft to make software which works well on all platforms, for a product like Lync. I don’t care that the Mac version has fewer features – I just want it to do the basics half-well. Calls, conferences, sharing of screens.

      • Rich says:

        This is an interesting topic!
        I am partway through a global rollout of Lync 2010 and so far I have around 7,000 out of 25,000 users enabled. The business users love Lync! We are primarily using it as a conferencing and collaboration suite, so not as an enterprise voice solution yet, but that will come in time! The projected savings for the business for conferencing alone are in excess of €1m per year and we have a robust and stable deployment that has increased functionality over our previous conferencing solution.

        Most of the issues you talk about in your blog will be due to the way your IT Department deployed your Lync environment. The other issues, granted, are due to Microsoft’s inability to program decent software for the Mac and the poor excuse for a Mobility solution!

        So with the above in mind you shouldn’t be too put off by Lync as it is a fantastic product, IF it’s implemented right. Also, you should try switching to a Windows machine and a decent Lync optimised headset (like a wired Jabra headset) just to see what your user experience is like then to see how many of the issues are really due to the problematic Mac client.

      • John Appleby says:

        I’d suggest that Lync is pretty good for messaging and collab which may be part of your experience.

        It’s Voice that sucks the most, and Mac worse, and Mobile worse again – that seems clear from everyone I’ve spoken to.

        I’m not going to carry a PC around just to use Lync! That’s not a solution and Microsoft should just employ a couple of decent Mac programmers to stabilize it. They should learn from the Skype team, which is an awesome voice product both on Mac, iPad and iPhone.

  14. Catapult says:

    I use Lync exclusively at work for messaging, calling, conferencing and desktop/app sharing. It works consistently and with high QoS because the service is consumed from a cloud service provider that partners with Microsoft. That means the Lync setup is done correctly and managed correctly by experts – not by a few guys in the IT department. Lync will work wonderfully even in demanding enterprise organizations if the Lync environment is configured and managed by experts. If you purchased your Lync licenses with Software Assurance, you could port them across to a recognized cloud Lync provider…

    …or get your IT support team trained-up and Microsoft certified in Lync so that they can get your local deployment configured and managed properly.

    It’s your connectivity that causes issues with voice quality, not Lync. Lync 2013 will bring many improvements / enhancements for the user clients, especially mobile devices.

  15. John Rodgers says:

    Was having problems with Lync and stumbled upon this page trying to find solutions. Concur with the more critical posts and am currently losing productivity trying to find an answer. Not impressed.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s