Choosing Lync 2013 Clients

Everything you need for understanding and working with Lync 2013 in a fast-paced manner

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What clients are available?

At the moment, we are writing a list that includes the following clients:

  • Full client, as a part of Office 2013 Plus
  • The Lync 2013 app for Windows 8
  • Lync 2013 for mobile devices
  • The Lync Basic 2013 version

A plugin is needed to enable Lync features on a virtual desktop. We need the full Lync 2013 client installation to allow Lync access to the user.

Although they are not clients in the traditional sense of the word, our list must also include the following ones:

  • The Microsoft Lync VDI 2013 plugin
  • Lync Online (Office 365)
  • Lync Web App
  • Lync Phone Edition
  • Legacy clients that are still supported (Lync 2010, Lync 2010 Attendant, and Lync 2010 Mobile)

Full client (Office 2013)

This is the most complete client available at the moment. It includes full support for voice, video, IM (similarly to the previous versions), and integration for the new features (for example, high-definition video, the gallery feature to see multiple video feeds at the same time, and chat room integration). In the following screenshot, we can see a tabbed conversation in Lync 2013:

Its integration with Office implies that the group policies for Lync are now part of the Office group policy's administrative templates. We have to download the Office 2013 templates from the Microsoft site and install the package in order to use them (some of the settings are shown in the following screenshot):

Lync is available with the Professional Plus version of Office 2013 (and with some Office 365 subscriptions).

Lync 2013 app for Windows 8

The Lync 2013 app for Windows 8 (also called Lync Windows Store app) has been designed and optimized for devices with a touchscreen (with Windows 8 and Windows RT as operating systems). The app (as we can see in the following screenshot) is focused on images and pictures, so we have a tile for each contact we want in our favorites.

The Lync Windows Store app supports contact management, conversations, and calls, but some features such as Persistent Chat and the advanced management of Enterprise Voice, are still an exclusive of the full client.

Also, talking about conferencing, we will not be able to act as the presenter or manage other participants. The app is integrated with Windows 8, so we are able to use Search to look for Lync contacts (as shown in the following screenshot):

Lync 2013 for mobile devices

The Lync 2013 client for mobile devices is the solution Microsoft offers for the most common tablet and smartphone systems (excluding those tablets using Windows 8 and Windows RT with their dedicated app). It is available for Windows phones, iPad/iPhone, and for Android. The older version of this client was basically an IM application, and that is something that somehow limited the interest in the mobile versions of Lync. The 2013 version that we are talking about includes support for VOIP and video (using Wi-Fi networks and cellular data networks), meetings, and for voice mail. From an infrastructural point of view, enabling the new mobile client means to apply the Lync 2013 Cumulative Update 1 (CU1) on our Front End and Edge servers and publish a DNS record (lyncdiscover) on our public name servers. If we have had previous experience with Lync 2010 mobility, the difference is really noticeable. The lyncdiscover record must be pointed to the reverse proxy. Reverse proxy deployment requires for a product to be enabled to support Lync mobility, and a certificate with the lyncdiscover's public domain name needs to be included.

Lync Basic 2013 version

Lync Basic 2013 is a downloadable client that provides basic functionalities. It does not provide support for advanced call features, multiparty videos or galleries, and skill-based searches. Lync Basic 2013 is dedicated to companies with Lync 2013 on-premises, and it is for Office 365 customers that do not have the full client included with their subscription. A client will look really similar to the full one, but the display name on top is Lync Basic as we can see in the following screenshot:

Microsoft Lync VDI 2013 plugin

As we said before, the VDI plugin is not a client; it is software we need to install to enable Lync on virtual desktops based on the most used technologies, such as Microsoft RDS, VMware View, and XenDesktop. The main challenge of a VDI scenario is granting the same features and quality we expect from a deployment on a physical machine. The plugin uses "Media Redirection", so that audio and video originate and terminate on the plugin running on the thin client. The user is enabled to connect conferencing/telephony hardware (for example microphones, cams, and so on) to the local terminal and use the Lync 2013 client installed on the virtual desktop as it was running locally. The plugin is the only Lync software installed at the end-user workplace. The details of the deployment (Deploying the Lync VDI Plug-in ) are available at

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