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RANT: Skype for Business Mac

Jens Kohl
I'm used to be a mobile developer and web API architect. Nowadays I'm doing container stuff and fight legacy apps to be good citizens in a microservice-oriented world.
・1 min read

Some years ago the company I'm with decided we need an instant messaging solution. Since most of our colleagues have become one with their Windows PCs and Exchange servers the evaluation of the messenger market was rather short: Hello Lync – the Microsoft solution for messaging. Later renamed to Skype for Business.

Most of my Windows colleagues are quite happy with it, but only a few are really fond to work with it. At least they don't have any bigger issues in their day to day usage.

But there're a handful of developers and creatives in the company which are Mac users and there's even a Mac version of Skype for Business available (let alone that the rebranding of Lync to Skype for Business came years after they rebranded the Windows version). Hooray, I guess. Not so much. The status quo of the Mac version is awful. Imagine you're in an office building which is not the main building where the most of your colleagues are located you've to work with. One can think that sending and receiving files is a basic, yet mandatory feature a messenger should support. Not Skype for Business on a Mac. The Windows version has this feature.

Okay… I can deal with that, I mentioned the exchange server. I can send emails, crappy backup included on the mail server :) Now and then a colleague and I pair program on an issue and I'll share my desktop via Skype for Business. At least that works… but when I want to delegate the mouse and keyboard to my colleague… ERR not supported in the Mac version. The Windows version has this feature.

Mmmm… I guess, at least my colleagues can improve on their vocal explanation skills. Thank god, I don't need to work on all the issues I'm assigned to myself. More than two developers work on the same project, so it would be awesome if we can all join the same chat room and organize ourselves there. You guessed it: Not Skype for Business on a Mac. The Windows version has this feature.

The reader can respond to this rant: Open a bug report. That's what I thought, too. So I googled their bug tracker and searched for file sending/receiving feature and I found it. I did that years ago and when I found it, it was a bug report already 3 years old… I don't have high hopes that this gets sorted out.

I presume (and haven't checked yet) that Microsoft thinks the solution to all this is Microsoft Teams, their Slack clone for enterprises. Yeah, probably, but the thing with enterprises is, once a decision was made it takes decades to take them back and replace them with something better.

After all, they fixed a rather embarrassing Mac bug. A particularly beautiful specimen: As in any larger company, we have to change our passwords periodically. Since we use a single sign-on system, this naturally also applies to signing in to Skype for Business. In an earlier version of Skype for Business, if you changed your password, it didn't replace the old password from your Mac keychain with the new one, it just added the new password. And the same version tried to use the old password instead of the new one every time it was started.

Discussion (1)

mediumrowdy profile image
Comment marked as low quality/non-constructive by the community. View Code of Conduct

One of our clients has standardised on Skype for Business for their communication, and being good vendors, we have tried to use it to contact them for weekly conferences during a large project.

It has never connected first try. Sometimes it will connect second try. Sometimes third try. Several times we could not connect at all. Dropouts occur regularly. On a couple of occasions they have given up on it altogether and just placed an overseas phone call to us instead.

I tried to use it to contact one of their devs to share his desktop to help with configuration. It simply would not connect properly. Nearly half an hour of trying and retrying and reconnecting and it Just. Did. Not. Work. We eventually restored to standard Skype, but the screen sharing on that did not work either. In the end I talked him through what to click on as I could see his screen but not control it.