The newest release of Polycom VVX firmware is now available as the 5.3 UCS release. There are a lot of new Lync specific features, some of which are highlighted in this article. Not all of the features are covered, so make sure to also look for the upcoming administrators guide for release 5.3 for full details.
Prior to using any of the new features a VVX handset will need to be upgraded to the 5.3 software release.
As covered in past articles there are various ways to upgrade the firmware using a centralized distribution point like the Lync Device Update service. The easiest way to update a single phone to get started testing out the new features is to use the web server interface on phone to download and install the latest version from a Polycom hosted server over the Internet.
Enable Web UI
As of the previous version’s 3PIP qualification the phone’s web management user interface is now disabled by default whenever Lync Base Profile is enabled. In order to access the web interface then it must first be re-enabled from the phone (or remotely via a provisioning server configuration file if desired).
If the web management interface is not currently enabled then it must be turned on temporarily in order to install an update directly from the public Polycom update server.
- Press the Home key on the phone and then navigate to the following menu: Settings > Advanced (Enter Password)> Administration Settings > Web Server Configuration.
When prompted to enter a password on the Advanced menu enter the administrator password configured on the phone (the default value is ‘456’). Also the Web Server Configuration item is located at the bottom of the Administration Settings menu.
Note that the phone’s embedded Web Server is disabled now that Lync Base Profile was activated.
- Change the Web Server parameter to Enabled and the Web Config Mode parameter to whichever combination of HTTP and HTTPS is desired (e.g. HTTP/HTTPS).
- Back out and select Save Config which should trigger a reboot of the phone to apply the change.
Once the phone has completed rebooting the device’s IP address can be retrieved directly from the phone to use for connecting to the web management UI.
- Press the Home key on the phone and then navigate to the following menu: Settings > Status > Network > TCP/IP Parameters
- Note the IP address and then connect to that address in a web browser.
- Leave the Login As value at the default setting of Admin and then enter the default administrator password of ‘456’. (If Internet Explorer 11 is used then it may be required to add the IP address to the Compatibility View list if getting stuck at this menu.)
- Browse to the Utilities > Software Upgrade menu and verify that the Server Type is set to Polycom Hosted Server.
- Select the Check for Updates button to check the hosted server for the available versions.
- Select the latest version and then confirm the process.
The phone will reboot a couple of times as the upgrade process completes and then will return to the default home screen. If desired the web management interface can be disabled again to prevent any remote access to the phone.
If the VVX phone was already registered to a Lync Server prior to upgrading (or even downgrading) the firmware then it will retain the cached credentials and automatically sign back in after the final reboot completes the process.
If Better Together over Ethernet (BToE) is used with this phone then make sure to download and install the newest BToE client software release on the workstation. For the UCS 5.3 release the accompanying 3.0.0 client version must be installed.
As mentioned before the following is not a complete list of all of the new features but does cover a majority of them, focusing on the most important additions.
Gone is the old, manual configuration and in its place is Exchange Autodiscover support. When signing in with Active Directory user credentials in any of the supported methods the phone will perform the same automatic discovery procedures that most Lync clients and devices support. (Note that using PIN Authentication does not provide any Exchange connectivity; this is no different than Lync Phone Edition devices.)
Once connected to Exchange this provides not only the same calendar access as before but a host of new features like call logs, visual voice mail, contact integration
- Visual Voice Mail has enhanced the messages screen on the phone to now provide entries for each message in addition to options like playing the message on the phone, deleting it, or calling the Exchange Subscriber Access number.
Personal contacts stored in the user’s Exchange mailbox are now accessible by the phone. These contacts can appear in a contacts list or be returned as part of address book search queries. If the contact contains a SIP address for a Lync federated user then the presence will also be displayed for that user on the phone.
- Another new feature is the ability to start a conference call to all contacts in a specific contact group by using the Dial All action.
- Lync Address Book searches are now real-time and will automatically perform a search and return results as characters are entered into the search field.
One of the biggest improvements in the VVX software is support for Microsoft’s Centralized Conferencing Control Protocol (CCCP) which is the heart of Lync conference control. Interoperability with this protocol allows for proper click-to-join capabilities with scheduled meetings as well as meeting and roster control functions included directly on the phone.
- Lync Meetings stored in the user’s calendar can now be joined using the single ‘Join’ button.
- Meetings can also be joined directly from the configurable reminder alerts which pop up on the home screen.
While the new Roster is the default view when in a Lync conference a host of additional features are now available through two screens of soft keys.
- For example the ability to put the conference call on hold or end the call, invite new participants, or issue moderator mute/unmute of all attendees.
- Additional options include enabling or disabling arrival and departure announcements, locking the conference to prevent new attendees, granting participants access from the lobby and viewing the Meeting details like the Dial-In Conferencing Number and Conference ID.
These conference calls also work in tandem with the Lync Group Conversation windows when BToE is utilized.
- Additionally the calendar Reminder Settings can be customized in greater detail to provide for more a meaning experience without simply having to disable them.
Better Together over Ethernet (BToE)
Along with the latest BToE 3.0.0 client software the device can stream HD audio from the paired PC directly to the phone’s speaker or handset.
- The paired phone can now be selected as the default audio device in Windows, for playback of all system sounds, music, or any audio source.
- When audio is actively being played to the phone will reflect this on the display, indicated by the ‘PC Audio’ label and the speaker icon on the left side.
A host of features have been added for Boss/Admin relationships including the ability to set custom ring tones, safe transfer support, and distinct icons.
- A delegate’s phone will also now display their boss icon differently than the other favorites tagged to the home screen to make it easier to tell the two types of contacts apart.
Music On Hold
One of the longest CX parity hold-outs, Music On Hold is finally available on the VVX handsets. Yet while the Lync Phone Edition feature was not customizable, the VVX handsets can support custom WAV files, up to 1MB in size.
- Another welcome addition is the ability to select between either Blind or Consultative as the Default Transfer Type on the phone. When selecting the Transfer key in a call with a normal press the selected default action will be used, but when long pressed a similar menu will appear to prompt for which action to be used for that specific call transfer.
A feature exclusive to Polycom and borrowed directly from the video conferencing room solutions this allows the VVX phone to utilize the built-in microphone in tandem with the handset or a headset to completely eliminate any background noises. This is not traditional noise cancellation but is an adaptive approach to identifying sounds further away than the primary user and removing those sounds completely from the encoded audio stream.
This feature is not enabled by default, but can be turned on by defining the following example provisioning parameters:
Lync Status Screen
Available on the web management UI from the Diagnostics menu the Lync Status screen now includes even more details, divided across the following groups.
DHCP Option 43 Override
Another feature exclusive to the VVX phones is the ability to provide the Lync Certificate Provisioning Server URL via a standard XML configuration file or environments where other Lync phones are not used and either the DHCP parameters are not, or cannot be configured. This can be beneficial when testing Lync phone deployments in production networks, prior to making any changes to production DHCP services, for example.
New Multi-Key Combinations
- By pressing and holding the 1, 4, 7 keys all together a new status screen will appear on the phone that quickly displays network information like the phone’s IP and MAC addresses.
To perform a simple factory reset, almost identical to the Lync Phone Edition devices, the * and # keys can now be used.
- When the phone is initially powered on or rebooted a message will be appear on the display that states “Starting Application, press Cancel to interrupt.”
- Press the Cancel button and then a countdown of 5 seconds will begin.
- Immediately press and hold both the * and # keys and after a few seconds, before the timer reaches zero, a new message should appear that reads “The operation you have requested will erase all user-created data. Do you want to continue?”
- Select Yes to begin the factory reset procedure. Just as with Lync Phone Edition devices this will only erase all non-factory configuration data stored in the phone, it will not reset the currently installed version of firmware.