Category Archives: 13740

Frustration with the Lync 2013 client for Windows Phone 8

Microsoft have released the Lync 2013 client for Windows Phone 8, and it looks great – many more features than the 2010 version, including voice and video calling. However, when I try to login to my account on Office 365 it tells me that “You can’t sign in with this version of Lync. Please install Lync 2010.”


That’s unfortunate and somewhat unexpected, partly because I’m happily using the Lync 2013 desktop client on my Windows 8 desktop, but more so because the app description in the Windows Phone Store gives no real indication that it wouldn’t work. What it does say, in all caps, is this:


IMPORTANT: THIS SOFTWARE REQUIRES CONNECTIVITY TO VALIDLY LICENSED COPIES OF MICROSOFT LYNC SERVER OR OFFICE 365 / LYNC ONLINE AND WILL NOT WORK WITHOUT IT. UPDATES TO MICROSOFT LYNC SERVER MAY BE REQUIRED FOR PROPER PERFORMANCE. SOME FUNCTIONALITY MAY NOT BE AVAILABLE IN ALL COUNTRIES. IF YOU ARE UNSURE ABOUT YOUR COMPANY’S LICENSE TO AND/OR DEPLOYMENT OF LYNC, PLEASE CONTACT YOUR IT DEPARTMENT.


That’s the only information about requirements for using the app, and you’ll notice that it explicitly says that you can use it with Office 365. It’s not a case of “some functionality may not be available in all countries” – this client uses something called UCX which isn’t supported by Lync 2010 servers, so evidentially we’ll have to wait for Microsoft to upgrade our O365 tennancy. I’d be fine with that if the above important information didn’t say “UPDATES TO MICROSOFT LYNC SERVER MAY BE REQUIRED FOR PROPER PERFORMANCE.” I’d say that “proper performance” implies that some features may not work optimally, not that you won’t be able to get so far as signing in!


I’m sure that the people who have Lync 2013 and Windows Phone 8 devices are going to be very happy with this app, and I expect that I may be happy with it in the future* but this is just another example of Microsoft giving mixed/misleading messages around Windows Phone 8 and it isn’t good enough! (For the other prime example that annoys me even more, I refer you to the podcast user experience outside the USA. Going into the Podcasts section of the Music + Videos hub tells you that “It’s lonely in here. Go to the Store to add some podcasts”, but there aren’t any unless you’re in the USA. This is something that’s built in to the core OS and only works in one country of all the teritories where Windows Phones are sold. Shocking.)


On a positive note, as one of my colleagues pointed out, at least the error message in this case is vaguely helpful and doesn’t just give you some obscure error code.


* If I don’t switch back to Android first.

HTC Windows Phone 8X – Early Impressions

Last week I upgraded from a Nokia Lumia 800 running Windows Phone 7.5 to the HTC Windows Phone 8X running Windows Phone 8. I’m not going to write a full review of the hardware or the OS, but I am going to brain-dump some initial thoughts on them both. 


The Pros:


  • Great screen – increased resolution really helps.
  • Very responsive. Much better performance than Windows Phone 7. Could be the hardware or the OS, probably both.
  • Changes to the home screen are good – I’m very happy with the increased data density.
  • Camera is very decent (I don’t need it to be a DSLR replacement).
  • Audio is great. The speaker is loud and clear; Beats Audio makes my (Bose) headphones sound better than ever!
  • The phone looks and feels much slimmer than it actually is. It’s also light enough that it practically disappears in a jean pocket.
  • Screenshots! This is a big deal for those of us who want to document and write about Windows Phone.
  • You can move content between WP8 and a Windows RT tablet. That might not help many people, but you can’t transfer content directly to an iPhone from an iPad.
  • Kid’s Corner works very well (although I did experience a bug which made it still ask for my PIN to unlock the phone the first time I set it up).

The Cons are mostly to do with Windows Phone 8, rather than the 8X hardware, so I’ll get my one gripe with that out of the way first:


  • The case isn’t tight enough around the screen – there’s a thin gap at the top of the screen big enough to get dust and lint trapped. That’s going to constantly annoy me (although not a lot – it’s very much a 1st world problem).
  • Podcast support is a disaster. It might be fine in the USA, but given that there aren’t regional licensing issues with podcasts, it’s totally unacceptable to leave it so completely broken for everyone else!
  • Not all Windows Phone 7 apps are compatible (TuneIn Radio, for example). I don’t think that has been made clear.
  • Auto-updating of the lockscreen with Bing images doesn’t seem to be working for me (it does work with the HTC option of displaying the weather).
  • I’d like even more live tile sizes (2×1, for example).
  • Data Sense was much-touted, but isn’t there yet, and maybe it never will be on your carrier.

So basically the one thing that annoys me the most about Windows Phone 8 is the totally abysmal podcast support.  It wasn’t wonderful in Windows Phone 7 outside the USA, where you had to sync via Zune before you could subscribe to over-the-air updates on the device, and you could only browse the podcast directory in Zune if you used a registry hack. That said, even if the only thing we could do was enter the address of an RSS feed, that would be better than what we have today in WP8.


I’m sure there are lots of people who will buy one of these phones and never care about podcasts, but for me they’re really important – they’re how I stay current with tech and where I get new music. I usually listen to upwards for four a week while I’m commuting.


On Windows Phone 8, if you open up “music + videos” and then “podcasts”, you get a helpful message suggesting that you add some from the Store, except that there aren’t any podcasts in my Store!


Now, I fully understand why there are regional differences in marketplaces for music, video, books, even some apps. There are content distribution agreements that need to be signed with different regional organisations. That’s fine. It absolutely doesn’t apply to podcasts!


The podcast directory that Microsoft maintains for its US customers is just as valid for customers in the UK, India, Guatemala and everywhere else. I’m sure they’d say that they want to localise the experience so that it highlights podcasts in the right language or of greater local interest (football vs football, etc). Nobody wants to wait for that, especially since they could’ve done it in the last two years if they were going to. If the option is the US podcast store or nothing, then guess what – the most popular podcasts in the world are from the US and are consumed worldwide, so we’d rather have the ability to subscribe to them.


Maybe it’s just that on-demand digital media isn’t the future. Oh… hang on a minute…!

OneNote is now everywhere*

If you use Microsoft Office and you aren’t a OneNote user, you need to go right now and see how excellent it is, then come back.


Are you back? Good.


Right, now that you’ve seen how good it can be on the desktop, just think how good it would be if you could have your OneNote notebooks with you anywhere, synced via the cloud to your smartphone or tablet, and even accessible and editable in a web browser…


Well if you make sure that you actually store your OneNote notebooks on a free SkyDrive account then you could already sync them between OneNote on multiple desktops, your Windows Phone, iPhone or iPad, and even share them with friends/family/colleages as appropriate.


Now the last big missing piece of the jigsaw has been released by Microsoft with OneNote Mobile for Android.


The feature list looks like it features pretty much everything that you’d need for note-taking on the move. If you’re rocking an Android device, go get it now (yes, even if you’re an Evernote user – Evernote is great, but you should definitely compare and contrast OneNote – to my mind it’s a nicer way to work).


* Blackberry users, I’m sorry but there’s no good news for you. I’m not just referring to OneNote there. There’s just no good news for you generally.

Visual Search for Bing homepage images

I’ve posted here before about my love of the images that are used on the Bing homepage, and how I use them as my desktop wallpaper. I don’t know how long this has been up there, but I’ve just discovered Bing’s Visual Search for their archive of homepage images (340 of them as I write this). It’s a great way to view these fabulous images, so check it out at http://www.bing.com/visualsearch?g=binghp


bing


I should also add that I’m using the Bing Pictures Downloader app on Windows Phone 7 to save the images to my phone. Why would I want to do that? Well, WP7’s Pictures hub selects an image from the collection stored on the device to use as its background image and it also uses that for the Pictures live tile on the phone’s home screen – much of the time it selects one of the fantastic Bing Photos, like this:


PicturesHub

Kin

I was in the process of writing a post about Windows Phone 7 and I was going to add a quick side note to say that it hasn’t gone beyond my notice that Microsoft has also announced another line of phones. After it got longer than a quick side note, I thought I’d make a separate post…


Although I don’t like the names (Kin One and Kin Two), and I really want a phone that I can make my own by installing 3rd party apps and the like, I’m still quite intrigued by the Kin devices. I could totally see my step-daughter using one, and if I’m being honest, I’d probably get one as a 2nd phone for myself if I had that kind of spare cash lying around by the time they reach the UK on Vodafone. The Kin Two has the better spec, but I can’t help finding myself curiously attracted to the Kin One.


I particularly like the Kin Studio which is online storage that all of your photos and videos are automatically uploaded to from the Kin device. If you then what to share one of them, say via Facebook, the Kin will intelligently send it to Facebook from the Studio rather than uploading it again from the phone and taking up more bandwidth. It’s a neat system and means that your content is always backed up off-device. If you’re at all interested, I’d recommend checking out some of the videos from Kin.com, like this one: