Skype Meetings App and Mac Client Improvements Coming Soon
Microsoft indicated this week that improvements to the Skype Meetings App, plus Mac client improvements, will be arriving fairly soon or "over the next two months."
The Skype Meetings App can be used as an alternative to the Windows or Mac Skype for Business Desktop App for end users joining Skype for Business meetings. It might be used by end users located outside an organization. These users could get offered the Skype Meetings App if they don't have the desktop app installed. Microsoft also has a Skype for Business Web App that can serve the same purpose, and it's actually the default option, according to this Microsoft TechNet document description.
The Skype Meetings App and Skype for Business Web App don't get installed by organizations. Instead, they get offered to end users when they are "trying to log into a meeting without having Skype for Business," Microsoft's document explained. In such cases, the download is served from Microsoft's Office 365 Content Delivery Network, rather than from a local server.
Microsoft also has Skype for Business mobile applications for smartphones and tablets. However, those apps are electively installed by end users. They're not offered as a means to quickly join a Skype for Business meeting on the fly.
The Skype Meetings App is a possible replacement for the Skype for Business Web App and is available to organizations using Skype for Business Online or Skype for Business Server 2015. Organizations using Skype for Business Server 2015 need to have Cumulative Update 5 installed and they need to turn on the Skype Meetings App option to get it. However, the Skype Meetings App is the only quick-access option for end users when an organization is using Skype for Business Server 2019, Microsoft's document clarified.
Skype Meetings App Improvements
Microsoft now makes it easier for end users to troubleshoot issues after downloading and installing the Skype Meetings App. If the app isn't working after installation, end users will see troubleshooting links on the screen. The options on display include "Try to reinstall Skype Meetings App (web)," "Try to join the meeting again" and "Join with my Sky for Business desktop client."
Microsoft also removed a misleading message that popped up in some browsers after end users had installed the Skype Meetings App and then uninstalled it.
This week, Microsoft is planning to release an update to the Skype Meetings App that will address meeting audio connection problem associated with Windows machines. Here's the problem that'll get fixed, per the announcement:
In some cases, SMA [Skype Meetings App] chose the default audio device instead of the default communication device on a Windows computer. This results in the meeting audio playing through a device where you won't notice it, and you might think that audio hasn't connected at all.
In early November, Microsoft plans to fix a cookie issue that affects user app choice. Right now, if a user had elected to use the Skype Meetings App, that choice gets recalled via a cookie planted on the user's machine. It'll persist even after a user switches back to the desktop app. It's a problem Microsoft plans to address.
Mac Desktop App Improvements
Microsoft also announced some improvements to the Skype for Business Desktop App used on Apple Mac machines.
It's now possible for Mac desktop app users to join a Skype for Business meeting "as a guest without signing in." The latest Mac version of the desktop app enables this capability, which gets carried out via a "Join as Guest" button. Users need administrator privileges to install the Mac client. Microsoft recommends people clear the cookies used with their browsers if they've used the Skype Meetings App before.
On the Mac side (unlike Windows), Microsoft is actually trying to discourage end users from using the Skype Meetings App. Action to that effect will commence in "early December." Here's how the announcement described it:
In order to provide the best and most stable meeting experience on Mac, we will provide the Skype for Business desktop app for all users. Starting in early December, the joining web pages will only offer SfB [Skype for Business] desktop app for download.
Microsoft considers its Mac desktop app to be "significantly more reliable" than the Skype Meetings App for Mac. However, the desktop app currently lacks support for "whiteboard, polls, Q&A and attachments."
Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.