Lync, Strings and Cans

Like a lot of people in the Microsoft partner community, I’ve been catching up with Lync this year and digging in to the finer details with a few of my colleagues. One thing we wanted to understand better was the routing between two users over a LAN, a private WAN, or some other connection where all the necessary network ports would be open. Would these clients communicate peer-to-peer? If so, does it always behave the same way, how is it accomplished and what might go wrong?

First, consider an organisation with offices across multiple floors or buildings. Lync may be a very effective means of connecting these employees despite their relatively close proximity. If this traffic can route locally it can be a big plus – especially if there’s lots of media traffic. Second, consider an organisation with multiple branches. They invested in private WAN links to connect these branches and don’t necessarily want to route Lync traffic over their internet connections if they can avoid it. For some organisations these will be non-issues, since Lync traffic is optimised for the WAN, but for other organisations this may be important – particularly if they’re in a part of the world where internet connections are slow or expensive (or both). So we went about testing this with the Lync 2010 client and Office 365 users (the behaviour is the same with Microsoft Online IDs or federated users).

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No Lossless Audio With Zune

UPDATE 9 May 2012: This article has been out there for nearly 18 months but I’ve only just got a comment today that’s invalidated it. In short, everything here is accurate until you get to the point when you synchronise to your Windows Phone with Zune. At that point, Zune will transcode Lossless WMA files to MP3, even if the conversion settings are set to, “Only convert media files that aren’t supported by the device”. As described here, my device does support these files! Evidently, as James Shiers points out, the problem is not device support, but that the Zune software doesn’t support Lossless WMA (no citation unfortunately). What makes this even more confusing is that the quality settings are greyed out until you select the other option, so there’s no indication that this might be happening. In fact, the only real clue you have in the Zune client is that the file size will be smaller than the original.

All of this is a bit embarrassing since it proves I couldn’t tell the difference from 320 kbps mp3, which was the whole point of the effort to begin with, but there you go… :/I’ll leave the post in place,  in case the transcoding process is useful to anyone, and in case a new means of syncing supports these files in future.

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When I’m not wearing my SharePoint hat, I try to find the time to make electronic music. Over the last few years I’ve invested a great deal of time and effort moving from a PC-based Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) to an entirely outboard setup, with a large mixing console and various synths, drum machines, sequencers, samplers and dynamics processors. All of this suits me greatly, as it means I’m doing one less thing in front of the computer screen.

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