Jan 28

Microsoft Teams and the protocols it uses, OPUS and MNP24

I was wondering which protocols it was using. I heard some rumors the architecture was build around Skype consumer. I found a very good blog around this describing it. In February 2005 I wrote a blog if the new OPUS codec (based on SILK) was to be used in Skype for Business. It wasn’t, but it is now Microsoft Teams!

You can find it here:

Microsoft Teams – SIP IS NOT DEAD! It’s Just Somewhere Else!

Some great excerpts from the blog:

“This new core as I said before is built on Skype consumer code. This does not mean that it uses the Skype consumer datacenters, network or PSTN services. That is separate! It is just the code framework they have copied over to develop an enterprise grade audio, video and meeting service, that is exposed to the end user through Microsoft Teams. This is the reason why you will still see the Skype logo in your audio, video and meeting experience. This can be best explained in this simplified diagram.”

“So when we talk about Microsoft Teams does not use SIP, then at a technical level you are right on two points. The first point is that Microsoft Teams itself doesn’t require SIP, it is an end user UX App window that exposes different Apps such as Chat, Calling, Meetings etc. The second point is that the new Skype core service is based on Skype consumer code and therefore does not use SIP as it’s signaling protocol. Instead it uses Microsoft’s own signaling protocol called Microsoft Network Protocol version 24 or MNP24 for short. This protocol is wrapped inside a TLS encrypted TCP packet, which means, unless you have the private key for the Skype servers in Office 365, you ain’t gonna see it. However, what you need to understand is that this protocol is used between the Skype core and the App exposed with the Microsoft Teams client on your desktop. It does not replace SIP within the Microsoft Phone System. Another point to make is that the media codecs between the Skype app in the Teams client and the Skype core will be H.264 for video, SILK for P2P and Voice calls, and OPUS for meetings. But this will be only between the Skype core and the client the end user is using. At a higher level, the Skype core needs to interop with SIP, specifically the Microsoft Phone System and Audio Conferencing. “

“The following compacted diagram shows what was have explained at high level”

“In summary, SIP is not dead and you should not be concerned with this drift away from SIP as far as the desktop / web client is concerned. MNP24 has been in Skype consumer since 2014 and is a robust protocol. It allows Microsoft to develop their own components without the limitation of standards based protocols, which is good for development, but also carries risk around compatibility.”

People some times get confused on what Microsoft application to use for what. Described here by Microsoft is what to use when:


Microsoft Teams
Leveraged by means of customers and groups who are trying to collaborate in actual-time with the same institution of people.
Facilitates teams seeking to iterate quickly on a undertaking even as sharing documents and taking part on shared deliverables.
Permits users seeking to connect a huge range of gear into their workspace (such as planner, strength bi, github, and so on.)
Leveraged through customers who prefer to collaborate in the acquainted surroundings of e mail and/or a more formal, dependent manner.
Offers particular business methods that require e mail usage to transmit documents and records inside and outside company obstacles.
Communicates and connects with users who are outdoor of instantaneous workgroups or corporations.
Leveraged to assist join customers across the business enterprise to arrange around communities of practice and percentage great practices.
Improves move-practical workflows via an open and obvious feed-based totally platform
Fosters government-employee engagement with two-manner conversations between leadership and the broader worker base
Ignites your frontline personnel to share and obtain expertise and information
Skype for Business (Teams replacing it)
Leveraged for actual-time verbal exchange and collaboration both internally and externally with customers/companions.
Provides conferences with audio, video and content material with small or huge teams (along with city halls with up to 10,000 contributors).
Gives enterprise telephony functionality.
Leveraged for sites and portals (e.G. Agency information & bulletins, search, and file collaboration).
Implements business system automation on file libraries and lists of records by using integrating microsoft glide and powerapps.
Complete-powered sharepoint team site mechanically provisioned for each microsoft crew for record storage, crew news, pages, lists and more.”


Jan 25

Microsoft Teams – the Basics

You may have heard of Microsoft Teams. But a lot of people might think what is? And how do I use it?

If you want to acces the client (note you must be on Office 365).

Type: “portal.office.com” and you will go to the Office 365 portal where you can see what kind clients you can use. It looks a little bit like this (note: this is the admin view but a normal user has a similar view)

Main landing page for Office 365












When you click on Teams it opens in de webclient and you will be asked to install the pc client. There is a lot of commotion about teams replacing Skype Online. More details about this can be found in my two previous blogs:

This blog is however not focussed on the voice part, but more in general what can you doe Microsoft Teams.

Gartner and Microsoft position Teams as an activity hub, where you start from and initiate all kinds of tasks. See also: Microsoft’s New Vision for Communications and Collaboration in Office 365 Impacts Microsoft Teams and Skype for Business Customers. Read the whole gartner article for their thought, but these are two important pictures from the report

Activity Hub









Gartner recommendations
















So you may think, I am interested, but what is it exaclty:.

Here below I’ve collected some resources for you to get acquainted:


The main functionality of Microsoft Teams can be summarized in the following functions:

  • Activity with Feed – here you can quickly search through all you conversations and persistent chats
  • Persistent Chat  (can be compared to WhatsApp, iMessage functionality, but then a business tool, not a consumer tool)
    • Persistent Chat can be done 1-on-1 and with multiple people at the same time
  • Teams – create teams, compare it to Slack, Cisco Spark. Persistent chat in group, creates a separate Security Group, adds a Teams SharePoint, give you the ability to really work together hop to other 3rd party tools like a Jira board, Trello, Planner etc.
  • Meetings – Overlap with Outlook and Skype. Conduct Team meeting with optional audio conferencing dial-in numbers. Different than a Skype meeting. Audio conferencing requires the Audio conferencing add-on.
  • Calls (optional requires Phone System and Domestic/International bundle. Planned in Q3 2018 with Direct Connect, bring your own SIP trunk For more details see the previous blog.
  • File – a quick view to all you Office 365 files you have access to.

This is what an empty Teams client looks like:

Empty Teams client












When you have downloaded the client, you may want to look at some colleagues if they are already using Teams. You don’t want to fall behind 🙂

Jan 24

Microsoft Teams Voice dialing – a closer look

On the 13th of december I wrote a blog with the first screenshots of voice dialing in Microsoft Teams (see also the blog: Microsoft Teams, first view on voice dialing 

Since then Microsoft released 27 new features into the Teams client (several related to voice from the larger list). A good overview of the Chrismas updates can be found here: Microsoft just launched 27 new features for Teams!

These 27 new features are updates to the bigger 1 year roadmap presented by Microsoft in October 2017 on Microsoft Ignite. Here it was that the Skype Online client will be replaced by Microsoft Teams.

The Microsoft blog with the roadmap can be found here: Roadmap for Skype for Business capabilities coming to Microsoft Teams now available

The most actual and continuous updated roadmap items can be found here, where Microsoft keeps track of all what is released and planned for Office 365: Roadmap Office 365

With my latest blog I intend to show what is already there in Microsoft Teams. I will compare this to the Skype Online client. I will focus and look if all main necessary items are clearly on the roadmap of the Teams client and what is missing or not clearly addressed in the roadmap. It’s key that Teams client will show all necessary functionality, since the goal of Microsoft and clearly of all customers is to work with just one client, not multiple.

A good overview on feature level in an excel matrix is regularly being updated by Lucas Vitali in Italy, a Microsoft MVP. His table can be found here: Skype for Business and Teams features comparison table.

Ofcourse the Teams client also brings new functionality and during that time it’s necessary to use both clients at once, this is however very confusing to end-users who were just familiar with the Skype client. Now they have to go through a learning and adoption phase again.

Also for Skype On-premise users, a new Skype for Business Server 2019 is planned. They will have to use 2 clients in any case or start migrating into the Cloud.

It’s important to note everything written here is very much subject to change, especially since Office 365 is a cloud service and new features are released on more than a monthly basis. Check the roadmap above for the latest status. Screenshots will thus also change over time since new functionalities will be added and a lot is planned. For people interested in the screenshots please send me an email.

Dec 13

Microsoft Teams, first view on voice dialing

I was working my with my Office 365 tenant last week to do a trial on Skype Enterprise voice within Office 365, Skype Online. I did a trail with the E5 package and the Domestic Call plan to get Skype Online Enterprise Voice. In the Admin portal I had to assign Enterprise Voice to my Skype account. Since I live in the Netherlands I could not get a new number from the portal directly (like in the US), but had to fill in a PSTN number request form. Everything got in today. My Skype Online Admin portal looked like this with a local number from my area:






When enabling users for Skype Enterprise Voice you get the following 3 extra tabs on the left side:

  1. voice to enable enterprise voice
  2. call routing (for auto attendant and call queues)
  3. audio conferencing

What you see in this view is the assigned number to my Skype Online client and two numbers which i will intend to use on the auto attendant and the call queue.

Currently (december 2018) Microsoft has launched Skype Online Enterprise Voice in the following countries (several more are in preview)











By enabling your Skype Online account for Enterprise Voice the following will show up on your account when you go to a person:






For the people familiar with Skype Enterprise Voice you see the following dial-pad















And when you want to configure you simultanous ring of call-forwarding you can use these settings:












Now when I ring my mobile I see the following:













So for the people used to Enterprise Voice this is not so special. It is nice then the Netherlands is now supported with calling from Office 365. Now what happened yesterday that I saw the blog post from Microsoft that in a few hours all tenants would support voice on the Microsoft Teams client as well.


A lot of people know, Microsoft has announced on recent Microsoft Ignite 2017 in Orlando that the Microsoft Skype Online client will over time be replaced with the Microsoft Teams client. The roadmap can be found here:


So yesterday Microsft came with the following announcement and what is the case, I could use the Enterprise Voice with the Teams Client as well with the same phone number. This looked like the following:


On the left side you can see ä tab “calls”. I could dial in and out directly like I could with my Skype Online account. On the bottom left you see the dial pad.

On the top left you see contacts:

Then History

Then Voicemail



When you call someone you see the following view:














Ok when I call my number it also made my Skype Mobile client ring, not my Teams mobile client (which also does not show the calling tab yet).

First view and impression is nice and it required zero extra configuration. Of the next months I will further test the client and also look into designs to consider hybrid voice with bring your own sip trunk.

I am very curious on how the coming year Microsoft will live up their roadmap and more importantly ensure that the Skype on-premise 2015 and coming 2019 will continue to be able work with Teams in the Cloud and that all modalities will work, not only unified presence, but also also peer-2-peer meeting, mixed conference with all modalities like video and desktopsharing. Keep you posted.

Feb 05

Skype4Business, upcoming voice (OPUS) codec. Will it be in there? No, not in initial release

All Unified Communications vendors talk SIP nowadays, but the SIP standards leaves so much room for vendor additions that different SIP implementations do not automatically talk to each other. That’s why often a Session Border Controller is need for voice or video to make sure things are made compatible. Let’s talk a about codecs currently used in Lync 2013:

Voice Codecs

G.711 (standard) and RTAudio Narrow Band and Wide Band are supported codecs by Lync 2013 and G.729 (comparable to a GSM call) can be used if an SBC transcodes G.711 to G.729 to for example towards a SIP trunking provider. Main reason is to the compression so less MPLS bandwidth is needed. The G.729 codec is not a supported codec in Lync itself. The quality of voice codes can be measured by the MOS values, Mean Opinion Score.  Explanation of MOS can be found here on Wikipedia, together with scoring of a few codecs.  

For conferencing modalities currently Siren (patented by Polycom) and G.722 are used. This gives a much better conferencing experience than the traditional audio conferencing calls where everybody dials into to a bridge from their car. Which forces the bridge to mix G.729 calls and can be a horrible experience with 20+ people in the same call.

On the Skype side the SILK codec has been used and is now also introduced into Microsoft Lync. SILK is a foundation (with CELT) of the hybrid codec Opus (at the time called “Harmony”) that was submitted to the IETF in September 2010,[13] and was chosen as the final candidate for the new standard. Opus was published as an IETF proposed standard in September 2012.  The OPUS codec based partially on SILK, the voice codec that Skype has developed Now OPUS has been ratified as an official standard. But which known vendors already support this standard:

A very brief reference was made to the OPUS codec, by Jeff Schertz, Microsoft Lync MVP working at Polycom. He always makes excellent blogs, this is one of those beauties.

When I have more or someone else have more information on support, please let me know I will update the blog. Advantages of using the OPUS.

Impact on the Microsoft and Unified Communications eco-system when it gets introduced:

  • Most likely the old codecs will still be supported, so no direct impact, just as SILK is now supported
  • Vendors supporting OPUS will have an advantage, better quality, less bandwidth needed

Why are codecs and standardization important. That’s for four reasons:

  1. Interoperability
  2. Bandwidth usage
  3. voice and video quality
  4. Control, a proprietary codec can create a deliberate lock-in into a certain architecture and thus creating more revenue for a vendor.

Lync 2010 and Lync 2013 Bandwidth calculator A good way today to estimate impact of a Lync implementation on you network can be done by using the Lync 2013 Bandwidth calculator. Whatever Microsoft will change on the codec side, they will surely come up with a new version of this tool for Skype4Business.


Note. Update on February 2015. The Skype4Business release is planned somewhere H12015. We just has the Office 365 Summit in Amsterdam with two days of presentations on Skype for Business. The slides can be found here. The OPUS codec will not be in the initial release, a lot of the communications will be based on SILK. Even though OPUS is partially based and has input of SILK the two codecs won’t be able to interoperate with each other.

From a standardization perspective and with the all the trends on WebRTC it would be good if the Microsoft will adopt the Opus codec quickly as with other vendors, so this can be the new G.729 and G.711 and commonly supported throughout different platforms.

Feb 05

Lync 2013 and Skype4Business End-user Devices Selection for Enterprise Voice

Choosing the right end-user devices (EUD) for your Lync solution is crucial for the adoption of your unified communications solution and thus for realizing your business case of lowering telecom cost and greater agility in doing business internally and with your partners and customers.

When you have setup your on premise or partner hosted Lync 2013 standard or enterprise pool(s), session border controllers (SBC’s), survivable branch appliances (SBA’s) and/or voice gateways. (Office 365 does not support Enterprise Voice and is not likely too on the short term for multinational companies). It will be time to focus on the end-user and what device he or she will be using. The same will be applicable with the upcoming Skype4Business release expected soon.

Your end-user has an important voice and can potentially block unified communications deployments if not treated properly.

Nine important factors that will effect decision making for EUD:

  1. Personal Taste (if end-users don’t like the device, this will slow-down adoption)
  2. Functionality (requested features)
  3. Supported platforms (Windows OS / Mac OSX and mobiles (Windows Phone, iPhone and Android, functionalities differ per supported platform)
  4. Qualified firmware by the selling vendor and also Microsoft (vendor page and UCOIP page)
  5. Compatibility with hosting partner (will your hosting partner support your selected devices)
  6. Available resources for deployment (devices requires installation and/or configuration and explanation)
  7. Available end-user adoption material (how can a user switch from his old phone to a new solution when he doesn’t know how to use it)
  8. Procurement method / device selection portals (global roll-outs and portals to let an end-user choose their own selected device and aggregate demand)
  9. Last but certainly not least cost (EUD form a big chunk of the UC business case)

Microsoft has put a tremendous amount of work together with their certified partner to help end-users choose the appropriate devices. These can be found on the UCOIP page (Infrastructure qualified for Microsoft Lync) or the following direct link:


Carefully look at the tested firmware by each vendor. This is the firmware release that has passed Microsoft Qualification process, but is in most cases not the latest release. It is expensive for vendors and time consuming to go through the qualification process. Official answer is to take only the qualified tested firmware. If you want to use a newer release with newer features, test you self or your partner can test it you in their lab.

Important categories of end-user devices and software:

  1. Headset’s
  2. Phones
  3. Attendant Consoles (maybe part of a Call Center solution)
  4. Video devices (i.e. Roundtable device etc)


A good way to start is to segment your existing user basis into profile’s. This can be for example (but differs per company):

  • Executive
  • Executive-Admin (or secretary)
  • Road Warrior
  • Office Centric User
  • Receptionist
  • Call Center User
  • Factory Worker
  • etc

Your Human Resource (HR) department can help supplying you the information about your user basis, since they have an overview of all employees and their job descriptions. Those job descriptions can be mapped against the profile’s you make.

Once the profiles are made and it’s clear how many of each user you have you can use these to selected you end-user devices per group (phone/headset/attendant console if necessary etc.)

Don’t forget, there are some non user specific devices as well, which have to be counted or estimated:

  • Meetingroom devices (i.e. spiderphones or usb/Bluetooth speakers)
  • Common Area phone (not restricted to a certain users)

A few tips:

  • Keep the amount of chosen vendors to an absolute minimum. Every solution has to be:
    • Tested
    • Supported
    • Procured
    • End-user material and training material needs to created for each type of devices
    • The greater the volume per type, volume discounts will be more likely
  • It’s wise to choose together with the vendor and the supporting partner
  • With a small amount of different types, stock can potentially be held for fast delivery.
  • Outside of Europe, any hardware requires a local2local procurement and billing for tax reasons like any UC hardware or other transactions. You don’t want things to get stuck into customs for months or at an airport terminal, arguing who will pay the important licenses, taxes etc.

Some vendors to keep an eye on:


  • Polycom
  • Audiocodes (supports the new OPUS codec, derived from the Skype Silk codec, used in WebRTC scenario’s)
  • Snom


For phones there is always a discussion if you want to use a Qualified (or 3rd party IP phone / 3PIP) or an Optimized phones (i.e. Polycom CX series).

Lync Phones: Optimized or Qualified?

Here are some blog’s that explain the differences. Remember that the optimized phones are running the Lync Phone Edition (developed by Microsoft), but no new features will be coming out. It will be support for the same coming 10 years as Lync 2013 will be supported. If you already have a large installed base in optimized than it’s safe to continue deploying those.

For greenfield Lync Enterprise Voice deployments, it’s advised to go to the Qualified phones aka 3PIP phones, since the vendors mentioned above can bring features that complement Microsoft Lync voice solutions, but make sure they are tested. The firmware are developed and tested against Microsoft but made by  the vendors themselves.

Enjoy the selection of your EUD. It’s a fun activity to do, but very difficult and a sums up to a portion of your unified communications budget.

Apr 14

Lync 2013 and the Lync Room System (LRS), the new collaboration experience

With the introduction of Lync 2013, Microsoft launched the concept of the Lync Room System (LRS). The LRS is a concept of porting the Lync experience into a pc connected to a single or dual screens. Microsoft has found several hardware vendors to partner with:

  • Crestron (known from executive controls of AV equipment in the boardrooms of multinations)
  • Polycom (OEM of Crestron)
  • SMART Technologies (known from touch screens in the education sector)
  • Lifesize originally joined the program but stepped out.

The advantage of the LRS is that the Lync experience can be extended to a group of people in a room. They can share their screen with touchscreen technology and collaborate with people remotely in another office, at home or people on the road or on their mobiles.

A great session (note in Dutch) is at the SES Lync day in the Netherlands. Link to session of SES Lync end-users session last September 2013. You will see here how Dennis Berkes, Solution Sales UC of Microsoft demos the LRS system. He uses the system of SMART technologies to show this.

Here is a collection of resources of the LRS vendors

On the 18 February 2014 at the Lync Conference in Las Vegas all the vendors were finally able to show their systems together. Some very interested upcoming features coming up in the next release are described by (i.e. the new VIS role):

The Lync Room System can be excellently combined with global inbound contact numbers (see blog Global Microsoft Lync 2013 roll-out and audioconferencing)

Combining that all together will give you the following:

  • a Group of people with the LRS
  • other companies with a LRS (via federation)
  • users on their mobile with the Lync 2013 mobile clients
  • users on the road via Wifi (i.e. in a hotel) with Lync on their laptop
  • users at home with Lync 2013 on their home pc
  • mobile or fixed phones dialing in via PSTN

All together joining in a single session and share voice, video and desktop sharing and collaborate with a single experience.

Video interoperability between Lync and Room based Videoconferencing.

So you will ask, what about my videoconferencing systems? I don’t want to throw away my investment I made earlier. You don’t have to, but expect them to be used next to each other in stead of combining them. In current release of LRS, it is not possible to dial-out, so it’s not possible to dial into a video Multi Conferencing unit or single system.

There are rumors that this will be solved in a next release, but expect and I would advise to keep it to a single Lync only experience.

Happy Collaborating.



Jan 23

Lync 2013 and Skype Connectivity – Business and Consumer UC combined

Despite the protest of Cisco at the European Court, Microsoft has integrated Skype with Lync 2013 through a gateway. It is now possible to use the following functionalities between the two environments (Skype for consumers and Lync 2013 for business):

  • instant messaging and presence
  • audio
  • video (on the roadmap)

A whole new paradigma is emerging where now the Unified Communications stack of the business world is merging with the consumer world. So all kinds of B2B and B2C models will arise.

Use Cases

Some use cases I see for the Skype/Lync gateway or had some great input for from others:

  • Family: talking to family when traveling or roaming (reducing mobile roaming cost)
  • Contractors: connecting to 3rd party contractors, not using Lync (improve communications)
  • Business Partners: talking to business partners that use Skype as business communication platform (improve communications)
  • Staffing: Human Resources to talk to potential hires (improve communications, release of video modality would really help here) (credits to Glen Darling)
  • business talking to consumers
    • Banking: this might be for a example a premium channel of helpdesk or a Private Banker to be reached on instant messaging next to the phone.  (improved customer service)
    • an infinite number of examples can be thought and I am interested in receiving use case that might be good example

This new functionality creates al kinds of new possibilities of business models and how business can communicate with consumers and offer better and quicker answers then just a voice helpdesk, email entry etc.

Marketsize Skype

Skype is a phenomenon and is in the category of Google, Facebook, Twitter, Apple iMessage and FaceTime.

Skype is big in the consumer market and is limited seen in the business market. Skype can be used for:

  • Peer2Peer VOIP
  • multiparty audio en/or video calls
  • Skype Out for outbound access to the PSTN network
  • Skype In where a Direct Inward Dial number can be assigned to your Skype account. So you can be reached on Skype throught the PSTN

Skype is available on multiple devices:

A great blog with some video’s on what’s possible with Skype on the XBOX can be found here: “A new Skype experience in the living room, with Xbox One”.  Since I don’t have a XBOX, i couldn’t test it myself, but understood I it works very well (audio for now, video when supported between Skype and Lync). (thanx Mitchell Weiss for the tip on the XBOX)

Details on a global VOiP report from VisionGain and global landscape can found in this report, where Skype marketshares are discussed.

Since Skype is so big, connecting the business UC product Microsoft Lync 2013 to Skype via a gateway connectivity is a major thing. However since most companies are still on OCS 2007 R2 and Lync 2010 and it takes time to plan and upgrade to the latest release Lync 2013. It is not widely known yet in the market on how and where this functionality is being used. I expect big things for it however.

As mentioned in a previous blog: Lync 2013 – compelling reasons to upgrade, Microsoft has since it has taken over Skype, put Lync in the same business unit. Microsoft has been working on connecting the consumer unified communications world (Skype) together with the business unified communications world (Lync) and made this possible in their Lync 2013 release. Skype will not replace Lync since it’s feature sets are not the same, however to a certain extend overlapping, but Skype is much more limited (but sufficient for consumers)

This page describes the functionality from a Microsoft point of view. Important and that is something users will have to do in advance is to merge their Skype account with their Microsoft account (@hotmaill, @live, @outlook.com). This is needed because your Skype account needs a SIP URI, so externals can find out how to locate each other. It is a shame that such a technical procedure has to occur before Skype users can communicate with Lync users, since it will limit the adoption rate (this is just to difficult for the average user)

Prerequisites are that a Skype receives an URI (Uniform Resource Identifyer). This can be done by creating or use an existing Windows account and merge this with the Skype account. The URI will then be similar to email address of the mail account and the Skype username is connected to it. This will look:

  • personsx@outlook
  • personsx@live.com
  • personsx@hotmail.com

This URI can then be used just like a normal federated Lync user and a user can be added to Lync. When doing this from the Lync point of view, on the Skype side an “approval request” is shown. Once this a approved, two users can start communicating.

So once an account is merged, it is just as easy as Lync to start communicating.

The description on the merge procedure can be found here and is actually very simple, you just need to know in advance.


So what does it look like from both sides. Here you see some screenshot on my MacBook with Lync for the Mac (connected to office environment) and Skype in one picture communicating with each other.

So I hope everyone likes this functionality and hope to hear back how people are using it, please leave your reply in the comments on what you think and potential use cases.

For the upcoming video interoperability. Skype talks in their blog: “Skype’s Pursuit of the Perfect Video Call” about adapting the H.264 codec for optimal use. I wonder if this is the same H.264.SVC (microsoft implementation) as introduced in Lync 2013. From Microsoft perspective it would make sense. Time will tell in the ever dynamic world of unified communications.