How to block and upgrade unwanted Lync clients

If your company has been using Lync since Lync's previous versions and incarnations, such as Office Communications Server (OCS), then there may be a variety of Lync clients within your organisation.When two different versions of the Lync client interact (eg Lync 2010 client and Office Communicator 2007 R2), the features available to either client may be limited by the capabilities of the oldest client. This situation could cause unwanted support calls and inequality of communication between clients, for example a Lync 2010-Lync 2010 communication will have all the latest features compared to Lync 2010 to Office Communicator client.

To improve the overall user experience and make the best use of the features included with Lync Server 2010, you can use the Client Version Check to limit which client versions are used in your Lync Server environment and take pro-active steps with upgrading older client versions.

The Client Version Check is implemented via the Lync 2010 Client Version Policy which enables you to allow or reject registrations from specific Lync client versions. By default the list of rules automatically blocks earlier versions of Microsoft Office Communicator and Microsoft Office Communicator Phone Edition that try to connect to Lync Server 2010, however you can change this behaviour by clicking on Clients and adding your own rules.When you click on Clients you will be provided with a list of Client versions and the Lync agents that they use.

When you select a User Agent and Version you will see a set of fields used by the Client Version Check together with a set of actions to take when that client version tries to use Lync 2010.

The Client Version Check provides options for configuring the following:

  • User Agent - The name of the agent for the client version.
  • Client Version Number - This number is created from a combination of the major version number, the minor version number, the build number, and the number that corresponds to the updated release of the client. The number is presented in the following format: ....
  • Comparison Operation - The comparison operation allows you to specify the specific version or range of versions of the client which the Client Version Policy will apply to.
  • A set of actions; Allow, Allow and Upgrade, Allow with URL, Block, Block and Upgrade, Block with URL that is taken when the specified client connects to the Lync server.

So what impact do these actions have on end users? My thanks to Jed Elerby for helping test these scenarios. Allow and Block are pretty self explanatory - Allow allows the specific Lync client version to log on to Lync 2010 whereas Block prevents specific Lync client versions from logging on to Lync 2010 but what is Allow and Block together with and upgrade and with URL?

If Allow and upgrade is selected as the option for a specific client version, then when a user with that Lync client version next logs on, the user is presented with the tray notification shown below.

When the user clicks on the notification, they will connect to the Microsoft Update web site, where they can upgrade to the latest version.

But what about Allow with URL? Allow with URL lets you specify a custom URL rather than pointing to Windows Update.

The URL that you provide comes with a message to advise the user of the upgrade to the latest Lync client version. The user can then click on that URL to go to a page where they can either download the latest Lync client or if you prefer simply log a request with the support desk to help the user upgrade their Lync Client.

Block and Upgrade and Block with URL

When using the Block options the user with that version of the Lync Client will always be prevented from Lync communication.

When the user with the blocked Lync client tries to connect into the Lync environment, the user is presented with the following dialog.

When the user clicks on Yes they will be sent to Microsoft Update or as in the case, Allow with URL option be sent to a specific page designated by your Lync administrator.

In OCS/MOC there used to be a way to actually uploaded the msp to the OCS server and push the update down to the client. Unfortunately, in Lync without the integration of other Microsoft components, there is no option to do this anymore, so it simply points to either Windows Update or a Custom URL.

This picture is courtesy of Tom Pacyk at confusedamused.com, who has a great blog that is really worth you following. Without integration with active directory and Windows Server Update Service or the use of Software such as Microsoft System Centre Manager, these options can have limited use in the enterprise since most local users won't have admin to install an update, and there will usually be some other patching mechanism. For hosted/remote/home users it does provide a good way to prompt users to update.

Tip: Where a user is unable to install the update for themselves, the admin can configure Allow with URL to prompt users to contact the helpdesk if they have not received a desktop update.

Other articles that you might like to read in this area include:-

Lync Accessibility Support

Lync 2010 Virtualised Testing

How to make Lync directive and consultative transfer calls

How to federate Office 365 Lync with Lync On-Premise