Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Lync Click-to-Call in Internet Explorer

In the olden days before Lync, if you wanted to use Communicator to dial a phone number from a webpage, you had to follow a multi-step process: 
  1. Select the phone number
  2. Copy the phone number using Control-C or right mouse click and select Copy
  3. Bring up Communicator
  4. Click on the phone dialing window
  5. Control-V or right mouse click and select Paste.
  6. Click Dial.
Man, I'm tired just from reading that!  A feature that I've been waiting for a long time has finally made its way into Lync 2010: click-to-call from within Internet Explorer.  This has been an oft-asked for feature by several clients.  This feature was available in the past via some 3rd party add-ons, with limited success.  It's nice to see it in the base Lync client product.

When you install Lync, it will also install two IE add-ons:  Lync Browser Helper and Lync add-on, which you can see by clicking on Manage Add-ons from the IE Tools menu.  There are no configurable options.

Also from the Tools menu, you will see an option for Lync add on, which gives you a few simple options (enabled by default).

On every IE webpage you visit, Lync will determine what is a phone number using some internal normalization rules (non-viewable or editable at this time).  When a match occurs, Lync 2010 will place a small icon beside the number like this:

When you hover over the icon in a webpage, you'll see something like the following:
I've found that Lync is fairly good at determining what is a phone number and what isn't. Oddly, it doesn't seem to accept E.164 formatted phone numbers (ie. +15195551111), unless there's a space in it. Other add-ons I've tried would treat pretty much any string of numbers as a dialable number, which was irritating. 

Clicking the icon will bring up a Lync call window and Lync will automatically dial the number.
Instead of six steps, you can dial with just one click of the mouse.  An extremely useful and handy feature!