Hello Readers,

I hope you are well.  Just a quick one today.

Screen Sharing through Federation

This has been rolling out for a little while and I finally had a chance to use it in practice.  It worked well, so I thought you might find it useful.

What is it?

Screen Sharing to Federated Contacts follows on from the addition of calendar based Meet Now and uses the same underlying technology to make it work.  But with a clever twist.

What can it do?

You can now share your screen from a chat message to someone using Skype for Business, both internally (hybrid) and externally through federation.  It also works for federated contacts using Teams.

Anyone that isn’t using Teams in your Office 365 instance is treated as an external contact.  This includes users that are on Skype for Business Online or Server set up as a hybrid topology.  Curiously, it also applies to external/federated contacts using Teams. Teams still uses federation version 1 for external communication.  This form of federation only gives you plain text chat, calling and video.  And now, screen sharing.

How can you tell if a contact is external?

There are two big clues.  One is the box with External in it.  The other is displayed below that and states;

“name@domain.com is outside your organization. Some Teams features won’t be available.”

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You can also tell because the chat bar is different for internal Teams users and everyone else.

This is what you get if you want to chat with a Teams user

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And here it is for an external user

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Notice the difference?  As you can see, you don’t get any extras like rich text or emoji etc.

How do you do it?

In a chat message with an external contact, you will see the buttons for starting an audio and video call.  Next to that you have the sharing button.

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You’ll see a pop up to say that you need to start a meeting to share with a Skype for Business user.

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When you click start a meeting, it inserts a link to an ad-hoc Teams meeting into the chat.  This is what the other user will click to enter the meeting.  Since they don’t use Teams, the link will open in the browser.  Of course, Edge and Chrome work best.

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You will just see the Meet Now screen.  As you can see, you can adjust your A/V settings.  You can also “join and add a room”.  This might be useful if you want to share into the MTR.  Or maybe use a whiteboard and the content camera.  Or just press Join now

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You will be connected to the meeting

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Once you’re in, you’ll see this message at the top of the screen.  This is just stating that the other user is joining from a browser and there might be a delay.  All this depends on how quick they join, if they are using the right browser and if they notice the allow audio and video button

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Once you’re connected, simply open up to share tray to get at all your options.

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What else?

The other thing this type of scenario unlocks is the ability for the external user to start sharing with you.  Since they will be joining a Teams meeting, they get access to the same sharing capability as you.  This is browser dependent of course.

Browser Content Types
Edge PowerPoint, Whiteboard
Edge (Chromium) Screen, PowerPoint, Whiteboard
Google Chrome Screen (with extension), PowerPoint, Whiteboard

And that’s all folks!

Wrap up

Another great new feature for Teams.  This unlocks some additional collaboration opportunities for organizations that need to communicate outside of Teams.  It is also great for companies that are on a journey to Teams, especially in companies that don’t move all users at once.  And even deliberately mixed estates.  Those that have to stay on Skype for Business Server while they wait for the APIs and for vendors to support native application (e.g. Contact Centre, Attendant Console & Recording) integration to Teams.

I’d love to know what you think.  Leave a comment on the blog or in social media.