Do Microsoft Care About Video Conferencing?

27 Feb 2019 | Audio Visual Collaboration, Blog, Cloud Services

Microsoft Video Conferencing UK

In December Kev Talbot posted an article on LinkedIn, do Microsoft care about video conferencing? It went viral in the AV world, with hundreds of comments, likes and shares, and thousands of views. It even attracted some of the senior figures from Microsoft, discussing the points made in the comments.

The podcast, involving Kev Talbot, Noel Kennedy and Jason Ward that Involve proudly sponsors, AV JAM, managed to get Ilya Bukshteyn, Head of Product (Partner Director), Microsoft Teams Devices and Graham Walsh, Director, Solutions Architecture – UK&I, MEA at Pexip to appear in a podcast to clear up Kev’s grievances aired in his article. See the article below, plus the AV JAM episode which gives all the answers!


quoteMicrosoft… do you really care about Video Conferencing? It feels like you don’t. This was going to be a rant, but it has become a genuine request for help/info.

Endpoints: some systems that worked with Skype for Business (SfB) will now fail to work with Teams. I understand Teams is a new platform but for users it’s the natural (or forced) progression from SfB. The user base went out and purchased “certified” SfB systems, for example the Polycom Group Series, some only very recently to now be told to rip that out soon as it won’t work with Teams and buy this new stuff that so far, seems to have limitations.

Polycom representatives say the plan was always for their solutions to work with Teams but Microsoft have now decided all Video endpoints must be based on Windows 10, so that’s never going to happen. Polycom have only recently had the Trio/Group series pairing “certified” for SfB and again they tell me this was planned for Teams too, however, now that won’t happen. They are now pairing the Trio with an HP Slice to make it work and get this… you may then still be able to pair them back with a Group Series and use its processing power for big space audio, but what kind of crazy Frankenstein’s monster of a system is that? This problem is all due to the fact Microsoft decided Windows 10 only.

Maybe you decided not to go down this route and use the SRS systems, they will have a natural upgrade to Teams, perfect! However, how many people are experiencing issues with a Surface Pro being “always on” and falling over? It’s a consumer device that was never made to be always on. Move over to newer Teams devices: Crestron look like they have a perfect option with Flex, however without having any control over the Teams interface, is that going to bring other issues? Currently, there is no PTZ on that interface for cameras in large spaces (I’m told it is coming, though), but what happens if you have multiple inputs for content? You can’t select it on that interface, you have to switch interface to choose the source and then flick back to share… am I the only one who thinks that’s crazy?

We then look at interop, Video Conferencing for years has been based on standards with the drive to make video as simple as making a phone call, it doesn’t matter the network, carrier or device you just dial and go. However the Microsoft version… we’ll make SfB a pain, we’ll use SIP but call it MSSIP and close the doors, federation helped this as we could communicate and communicate in all ways, Ad-Hoc, Scheduled, Inbound or Outbound, yes it’s potentially messy but it’s doable. Now in Teams, we’ll kill SIP, use some REST Protocol and only let certain platforms talk to us (VTC Interop Partners). Polycom, BlueJeans, and Pexip must have been happy to be chosen but what about users that don’t use them? What if this user had another vendors platform? I’m now told Cisco have been given the API’s to communicate so maybe that list is growing.

Furthermore, I’m now told the only way to communicate as a 3rd party with Teams is via a scheduled Teams meeting invite where the 3rd party has to dial into the Teams meeting (via Pexip, Polycom of BlueJeans), so there goes the option of Ad-Hoc calls… what if the meeting is scheduled on another platform? Well, Teams can’t dial out to that. So then you think, as the 3rd party who used to have a platform with open federation for SfB, we’ll just do the same thing and build our own, for example, a Pexip add on which allow me to join any teams invite I ever receive from any of my Teams based contacts/customer from my, for example, Cisco Endpoints… surely I can do that? I’m told no, the 20 customers on Teams I want to communicate with all have to individually subscribe to the VTC interop partners platform and pay whatever that will be.

Everything I’m being told and reading genuinely looks/feels like a massive step back for Video Conferencing, I know Teams is more than just VC but as a Communications tools, it’s pretty important, no? Also, if you have bought voice handsets for SfB and they are not android based, you better throw them away and start saving for new ones when you get pushed over to Teams.


Now re-reading this it has become a rant, but if you haven’t given up on me and are still reading this then here’s my question…
You can see I say a lot “I’m told”. Is what I’m being told correct? I try asking Microsoft but never get an answer, I try asking the other vendors and get the same old “it’s Microsoft, they dictate”. Can anyone give me an honest answer?


We’ve got the answer! Have a watch of AV JAM, and don’t forget to subscribe and give the guys a follow on Twitter @AVJAMUK