Lync-to-Phone for Office 365, First Look

We were recently asked to pilot Lync-to-Phone in Office 365, which is going through a soft launch in the US. It’s not a secret or anything – you can find it at as a public offering. But, it’s being kept off the radar somewhat as the service ramps up. Because we are a major Office 365 partner, we were asked by Microsoft to go ahead and try it, so we are. This blog post is about our ramp-up experience.

I started with the single provider available, JAJAH, which is from a Spanish telephone company. That got me to here:



I accidentally picked the wrong plan, but I was able to close, sign in, and was prompted to reselect my plan and move forward.



Or at least I tried to move forward:
Something went wrong

Did a customer support call – took six tries (I am not exaggerating) for them to get my e-mail address right, even with phonetic spelling, which was a rough start, but after about three minutes they had it. Their answer? “Try a different browser with cleared cookies and browser history and try again.” Well, I had been using Firefox because IE 10 RP wasn’t making it past the first screen, but I went over to an IE10 Porn Mode In Private session and tried again. Yet again, I could not take any button presses to register, and they had set their site to not allow compatibility mode. So, I used F12 to force the browser to IE10 Compatibility Mode:

Compatibility Mode

And then tried again to log in. This time, the sign-in button worked, but the login failed. Great. So I tried to register again from the beginning. That time it said I was already registered. More great… So I did a “forgot password” on the sign-in page (even though I know I had it right because I had signed in with Firefox using the same password pasted from the same entry in my password management application). This caused a generated password to be sent by e-mail, in theory at least.

I never got the e-mail, and the original login still worked in Firefox. So then it’s a question of what browser I’m supposed to use. Firefox doesn’t work, IE 10 doesn’t work… so now I needed to install another browser. I guess it’s time to install Chrome… so 20 minutes lost…

Nope… no luck there either. Of course doing anything in Chrome that’s not on a Google site or using WebKit custom proprietary stuff is a coin toss but still, WTF? Then I remembered that I could look up the password that continued to work in Firefox by looking at its stored password list… and it wasn’t the password I set; it was truncated. No idea what was up there – a bug in the registration process I guess… only the first ten characters were taken. Now that I knew that, I could try to sign in using IE again (again using F12 to set compatibility mode)… and that failed again.

So I went back to Chrome again… logged in successfully. And that failed to add the location again. So now I’m back to calling customer service again.

This time, they got my e-mail on only the second try, without use of a phonetic alphabet.. Oops, no, third try… that failed again, so we went to phone number. That seemed to work – I was put on hold again while they looked at the account. It might be part of this goes back to bailing out partway through as described above, but decent QA should have caught this. This offering has been in development for months – some basic testing would have been useful I think… anyway, that led to a 24-48 hour delay while the case was escalated to an engineer… so now we’re in a holding pattern…

… insert multiple days of hold music …

OK, so it was some kind of error on the JAJAH side, but it’s been resolved. How do I know? Because “Yahoo! Voice by JAJAH Customer Service” wrote me and told me it was.  (Aside: I am forced to assume that this is key insider trading information about Microsoft buying Yahoo! now that Jerry Yang turned down a jillion dollars to get the company worth the $3.12 it’s worth today [a steal at half the price!].) So let’s go back in, remembering that Internet Explorer 10 doesn’t work. I went to the site again, sign in again, and again re-select my calling plan and initial account information. This time, adding a location works:

Adding a Location

I just did one location for now – it will make sense to add others later but this is good enough to get started. Clicking Continuegets me to phone line selection:


So more “good” news here – there’s only two area codes available for all of Ohio (luckily the one we probably want – 216 – is here), and there’s at least one grammar error (“request addition phone numbers“) on the page. Okay, so let’s take 216 and see what we get:

Line quantity

We get forty-nine lines available. I don’t know if that’s meant to be for 216 or for our account alone. For testing I’m going to take two but I definitely don’t like such a small number showing. You can actually add numbers to multiple locations as part of the order all at once, which is nice – each time you “ADD TO ORDER” it shows up on the right-hand order summary:

Order summary

Moving on, it’s payment time!

Payment Info

The complaints about blank fields weren’t there when I started, it’s an artifact of my forgetting to screenshot before entering something. So no bug there. I put in my work-issued credit card that I’ve already had cleared to use for this, and get a confirmation:

Almost there!

Still not sure about the $13.99 to $18.99 range here, but after all this, if I didn’t Submit then that would be silly, right? So time to click. And …. It failed again:

Another error? Inconceivable!

Great, another call to customer service so I can spend twenty minutes spelling out my e-mail address… this time I told them to use cell number to look it up, and they fail, so we spend more time with going through my e-mail address, reading it multiple times, and convincing them it’s not a browser issue (everything with them seems to start with assuming you don’t know how to use a web browser), and then finally opening another escalation, which means another 24-48 hours. I wish I was kidding.

Okay, so about 36 hours later, it was “fixed,” so time to try again. I again had to walk through the whole process. This time the final screen showed different results, which suggested it was going to work:

Final screen again

And yay, it did:

It's alive!

I also received a line confirmation e-mail:
Confirmation e-mail

So time to activate! This one at least didn’t reference Yahoo! in the Fromaddress, so there’s that. Moving on, it’s activation time:


So time to activate my line and assign it to me, starting with the first of the two Activate links (nice use of a little DHTML here):

Activation details

I put in my e-mail address, left the location alone for now, and entered my name, then hit Save. This changed the icon in the front to indicate the line was active:


I also received a confirmation e-mail on my location change with some slightly off sentence structure:

Location confirmation

Now I had to assign it to myself. There are instructions on the JAJAH site so they must work, right? I started signing in to the Office 365 Portal (I have administrative access). I located my User information, went to Details, and uh oh, we’re syncing our user information, so my office number wasn’t able to be changed. So the instructions are wrong in our case and lots of other cases. That’s fine, I can go to our on-premises Active Directory and set the number, then wait, which is what I did.

The office phone number replicated, so now it was time to set the provider in Lync Online. I went to the Admin Portal and selected Lync, Manageto get to the Lync Online Control Panel. I located my user account on the Users tab, and clicked my name. And then I… did nothing, because our Office 365 plan is E1 and you must have Lync Plan 3 to do Lync to Phone. So I enabled the 30-day trial of Lync Online (Plan 3) and tried again. Provisioning the plan required a very short wait (under one minute), then I was able to go into Licenses and assign myself one of the trial licenses. Then, I went back into the Lync Online Control Panel, and went into my user properties. This happened:

Unknown application error

Yay! Yet again a step breaking. This is getting fun.

So I waited about 21 hours and tried again, and this looks better:

Selecting a provider for the user

OK, so what difference did this make? Well, the Lync 2013 Preview Release client has all kinds of weird bugs, some of which I think impact this work, so I’m going to do it in Lync 2010. First noticeable change is that I have PBX functions showing in the client now:

PBX Functions

The location I was forced to add and had so much trouble with before didn’t show up anywhere, but whatever. It would be wrong as I’m typing this anyway as I’m in the United Club in Seattle, which is very far away from the location they have on file.

So I attempted to place a call, and it was successful! But could I receive a call?


Yes, yes I could. This is exciting, we have phone calls! So of course I could leave an Exchange voice mail, right? Well, no, actually, I just get a busy signal when I decline. So that is awful. Time for more delay as I wait on an SR with Microsoft. But that’s going to take some time, and I think it’s too much time at this point, so I’m posting, and I’ll do another post when it’s resolved.

Michael C. Bazarewsky
Principal Consultant, Server and Security

2 thoughts on “Lync-to-Phone for Office 365, First Look

  1. this is nearly exactly my experience as well as another Office 365 partner, though the JaJah part went smoothly, just the provisioning of Lync Online Trial was less than stellar and then the same issue on the lack of voicemail. So long as the Lync client is online calls complete, but if a call is not answered or if the client is offline, no SIP redirect to Exchange UM. After working for TWO WEEKS with MS with an SR we ended up getting calls to route to Exchange UM, but only for Exchange to give an error message that the user’s voicemail box didn’t exist on the target system. As a very long term and loyal Microsoft partner, one that has been working with Lync/OCS/LCS/Exchange/Speech Server and SIP trunking since 2003, my issue was at this point that I was hoping MS would correct the issue and we could really test the service.

    Instead they chose to use us as a ‘guinea pig’, requiring us to jump through hoops and provide client side log files as their lab rat – when the issue is clearly server side and NOT client side at all at this point, even by their own admission.

    I’m all for improving service and understand that all can benefit from this service, but had been assured this was an isolated incident and wouldn’t happen again if another domain was provisioned – so I did just that to test. Another set of machines, a new domain, etc. and guess what happened – exactly the same thing. I now have two domains with non-functioning voicemail that the user cannot configure from the Outlook client nor Lync client nor via dialing into the voice access number we assigned (which does pick-up but then fails to recognize the user’s number as a valid extension to allow the user to setup greetings.

    Essentially it is a great service, with great call quality but the part that I know would 100% work if it were in our datacenter, the Lync/Exchange UM handoff, sadly does not work and more importantly – MS REFUSES TO SIMPLY RESOLVE THE ISSUE and instead require senseless client side logs and sniffer runs. As a result our test domains have gone without dial-tone for three+ weeks now, each. If these were real customers with real business needs there is no telco or telephony service provider in the world that would be able to stay in business with SLAs as horrible as this.


    1. Of course this is not a good story to hear about any service offering. However, as was announced at the Lync Conference this year, there are more voice offerings coming in the next 18 months which should help this situation substantially. And Lync Hybrid exists in “Wave 15” and Lync 2013 (on-premises) which is a powerful, if slightly limited, solution. Finally some service providers including Verizon and AT&T (sorry to be US-centric – it’s what I know) are now doing Lync hosting that support interop with to Office 365 so you can have a fully hosted solution across two providers. That’s not an ideal case for several reasons (two providers to pay for, two providers to work with) but it does remove the on-premises requirement.

      When we first looked at this, and did the post, these options didn’t exist. I would suggest looking into them if hosted voice is critical for your customers today.


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