Lync Phones: Optimized or Qualified?

One of the key differences between Lync and competitive vendors is that Microsoft doesn’t manufacture the hardware used with Lync – Lync is dependent on high quality products from third parties.  To be able to ensure compatibility, Microsoft have developed two qualification categories that support partner-developed and designed hardware to ensure they interoperate with Lync based on publicly available Windows Protocols (WSPP) and Microsoft Office Protocols. They can be summarised as:

  • ‘Optimized for’: IP phones, headsets, conference room systems and other devices that offer a rich and integrated experience giving customers the power to get the most out of their Lync experience and return on investment.
  • ‘Qualified’ IP phones: IP phones tested to provide interoperability and quality of experience registering directly to Lync.

The ‘Optimized for’ badge can be applied to a plethora of devices that work with Lync, including USB desk phones and handsets, personal speakerphones, corded and wireless headsets, and HD webcams.  The requirement to obtain the badge is that the device is successfully tested to provide the following:

  • Plug and play: once connected, a device registers on Lync server and is ready to use
  • First run experience: Automatic detection of a device with a direct link to user guide and other useful tools and documentation
  • Mute/unmute across PC and device
  • Audio quality (embedded in the device): no echo or excessive glitches, echo cancellation across devices, wideband / Microsoft media platform with RT audio
  • Anti-flicker support for webcams (global powerline frequency) admin experience

While ‘Optimised for’ can be applied to many devices, the ‘Qualified for’ is only for Lync IP Phones.  The Lync IP Phone must operate over an IP network and are NOT designed to connect to legacy analogue PBXs or connect to the PSTN. They can connect via SIP to a PBX and work under the control of a server running Microsoft Lync Server 2013 or 2010 Enterprise Voice edition.

Why use a Desktop Phone for Lync?

A desktop phone is always on. That’s not true for PCs, laptops, or tablets, which can hibernate when idled too long. From a financial viewpoint, desktop phones provide a much better ROI since they last for up to 10 years compared with 2 to 3 years for cell phones, tablets and PCs, and only up to only one year for headsets. Desktop phones support multiline capability easily and have directly accessible buttons for most important functions. Desktop phones are required in schools, elevators, hotel pools, and common area in businesses. They are required to satisfy fire and safety codes.

Therefore, the question of ‘What is the difference’ only applies to IP Phones. Optimized Lync IP phones are specifically designed for Lync and run the Microsoft Lync Phone Edition software directly on the phone, whereas Compatible and Qualified for Lync are IP phones contain firmware tested with the phone manufacturer’s software.

Optimized for Lync

Optimized Lync IP phones are specifically designed for Lync and run the Microsoft Lync Phone Edition software directly on the phone

Optimized Lync IP Phones  support PBX functions, access to calendar and contacts, conferencing, and extended functions when connected to the PC, and integrated security and manageability. These phones have been firmware tested with the Lync Phone Edition software, only work within a Lync environment and are limited to the functionality provided by Microsoft.

Qualified for Lync

Compatible and Qualified for Lync are IP phones containing firmware tested with the phone manufacturer’s software.

Compatible IP phones do not require gateways for interoperability. Qualified phones support core Lync features and also allow for customized telephony features and third party voice applications.- They are tested and qualified by Microsoft to provide direct connectivity, core call functionality, presence awareness, and server management and provisioning.

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