The latest release of the Polycom VVX 5.6 UCS firmware is now available for Lync and Skype for Business (SfB) environments. This release includes some minor enhancements alongside a few major changes in look and behavior.
For additional assistance with updating phones the following articles are provided as references.
Perform a Factory Reset – This is an optional, but recommended step when working with individual test devices for validating new firmware in an established deployment.
Deploy Software – Once testing is complete then this firmware can be added to the Lync or Skype for Business Device Update service for on-premises deployments.
Online Updates – For Skype for Business Online customers this update automatically be published once it has passed qualification. Use this article to control this behavior if automatic updates are not desired.
Upgrading a Phone
This section will cover the basic steps to upgrade a single phone using the Polycom-hosted public server to directly download and apply the firmware to the phone. In order to perform this process the phone’s internal web server must be enabled. Depending on the selected Base Profile the web server may need to be manually enabled.
Set Base Profile
As explained in many earlier VVX articles the phone must be set to the proper Base Profile when registering to various SIP platforms. Depending on the original purchasing SKU and/or current status of the phone it will be set to one of two options by default: Generic or Lync. (Note that “Lync” base profile was renamed to “Skype” in version 5.5.1, but they function the same.) When a VVX phone is set to Generic then the Web Configuration Utility will be enabled by default, but as this phone is or will be used with Lync/SfB environments it is best to set or confirm this parameter before doing anything else.
- From any screen simply depress and hold the the following Multiple Key Combo (MKC) of: 1, 4, 9.
- When prompted after 3 seconds enter the Admin password. (The default is “456”).
- If the current value is set to Generic then select Skype and the phone will immediately reboot. If Skype was already selected then simply hit the Home button to exit the menu.
Enable Web Configuration Utility
Back when UCS 5.3 was released a new default behavior was defined for the Lync base profile which automatically disabled the embedded web server. This can be re-enabled on the VVX phone for testing or administration purposes if so desired. To perform many of the steps in this article it must be enabled now.
- Press the Home key and navigate to the following menu: Settings > Advanced > Administration Settings > Web Server Configuration.
- If not already configured then the Web Server parameter to Enabled and Web Config Mode to HTTP/HTTPS. (If a secure connection is required then set this to HTTPS Only).
- Select the back arrow and choose Save Config to apply the changes and reboot the phone.
- After the phone has rebooted press and hold (for 3 seconds) the following keys: 1, 4, 7. This handy MKC brings up the Phone Details menu which can be used to quickly find useful information like the device’s assigned IP address or current firmware version.
- Using a web browser connect to the IP address of the phone. (e.g. http://192.168.1.188).
- Enter the Admin password (default is “456”) and verify that the Home page successfully loads.
This phone must have access to the Internet in order to connect to the public hosted Polycom update server and perform the update described in this section.
- Using the Web Configuration Utility browse to the Utilities > Software Upgrade menu and make sure that Polycom Hosted Server is selected as the Server Type.
- Click Check for Updates which should be followed by a response of “Successfully fetched available software from the Polycom Hosted server.”
- Select the desired firmware version number (e.g. 220.127.116.1125) and then click Install. The currently installed version will be displayed in blue with older versions in red and newer versions in green.
- Confirm the action to reboot the phone and trigger the update. Once the phone completes the update process it will return to whatever registration state it was in before the update.
The following sections outline any Skype for Business related enhancements from previous firmware versions which may change the phone’s behavior or user experience.
Updated User Interface
While the UCS interface was just updated on some phone models in the previous 5.5.1 release there has been additional user interface customization within the Skype Base Profile to fall even more in-line with overall Skype for Business clients and devices interfaces. Where the previous version added a more Skype-like look to the VVX 5xx/6xx models this newer version goes one step further by adopting a darker theme used on the latest native Skype for Business devices like Skype Room System and the Polycom Trio,
Unlike the previous release this updated interface is now also applicable to the VVX 4xx models.
Dial Plan Normalization
The topic of normalizing dial strings in UCS has historically been a complicated subject. Way back in the original 4.x software release attempts were made to perform client-side normalization by downloading and applying the various normalization patterns and rules provided by the registered Lync Server. This proved to be problematic due to the different ways that Lync and UCS handled Regular Expression (RegEx) strings. On one side UCS did not at that time properly handle all characters allowed in standard RegEx patterns, and on the other hand several Lync deployments were found using non-standard patterns.
The approach several years ago was to change the default behavior of the phone to leverage server-side normalization by simply sending an unnormalized dial string directly to the server as-dialed. This resolved most issues but was a trade-off as it limited some other capabilities. The ability to control the normalization behavior has long been available by modifying the value of the UCS configuration parameter reg.1.applyServerDigitMapLocally which has held different default values over time.
As of UCS 5.6 extended support for RegEx characters and patterns has been introduced and, when in Skype profile, this parameter has once again been enabled by default to reflect the updated recommendation of using client-side normalization with VVX phones. If an existing deployment is already controlling this parameter via any of the different provisioning server models then obviously the phone behavior will not change. But if the parameter has been left at the default setting and has not been modified through any other methods then the act of upgrading a phone running 5.5 or earlier firmware will alter its normalization behavior. The phone will no longer send dial strings to the server and will instead perform client-side normalization. Due to this change it is highly recommended to test 5.6 out on a single phone first to validate that all Lync or Skype for Business dial plans are properly handled by.
In addition to the primary parameter discussed above some additional parameters have also been adjusted with default values. The following table lists all of these which are applicable to dial plan normalization behavior.
|Parameter Name||UCS 5.5.x||UCS 5.6|
New Configuration Parameters
In addition to the changes above there are a few new parameters available for controlling new capabilities. The dialplan.TranslationInAutoComp parameter allows for auto-completion results to be shown as dialing options when entering a string of digits. This functions when client-side normalization is enabled as the phone will be able to perform these normalization checks in real-time.
The dialplan.NUM_REPLACE_1.Additionale911dialstrings parameter listed below adds support to VVX phones for handling multiple Emergency Services numbers as is supported by Skype for Business. The configuration of additional numbers is performed server-side using the New-CsEmergencyNumber PowerShell cmdlet as covered on this TechNet page and then the phones will pull the additional configuration information down in-band during registration and store it in this new parameter.
If client-side normalization is enabled as discussed above then the phone can now provide on-demand dialing options in real-time as digits are being entered into the phone. To customize the timeout before call is automatically placed the dialplan.1.lyncDigitmap.timeOut parameter can be altered.
|Controls whether to display translated string in Auto-Comp list. If enabled the translated number will be shown in the autocomplete list.|
|dialplan.NUM_REPLACE_1.Additionale911dialstrings||Used to configure additional emergency dial strings.|
|Controls timeout value for static and off hook dialing scenarios.
This parameter replaces the obsolete parameter dialplan.userDial.timeOut
|Allows an administrator to disable and hide the Web Sign-in option on the phone.*|
|Allows the additional of a security message banner to be displayed when accessing the phone’s web management user interface.*|
|feature.webSecurityBanner.msg||Used to store the text displayed as a security banner enabled in the parameter listed in the row above. Supports up to 2000 characters.*|
|Controls the ordering of any configured Authorized and Emergency numbers displayed while the phone is locked.*|
|Can be used to hide the phone’s IP address from the various locations that it is displayed.*|
*Additional important parameters added in the previous 5.5.2 release have been included in this list for posterity.
When device locking is enabled the phones are now simpler to unlock than in previous versions. The digits can immediately be typed into the phone and it will be read as the unlock code, not a phone number to dial as before. To place a call while locked (if allowed) the phone icon can be selected, the speakerphone button pressed, or the handset lifted.
Device locking behavior has also been improved when using Better Together over Ethernet (BToE) mode with the latest BToE 3.6 software release. The device will now only lock/unlock when the paired workstation is locked/unlocked, and not if the pairing status changes between active/inactive.
Support for user photos has also been added to the lock screen in UCS alongside displaying the signed-in user’s name. The currently registered user’s photo will be shown on the lock screen of VVX 5xx/6xx models, as shown below, but only if the photo is stored in Exchange or made available via HTTP. Photos stored only in Active Directory are not accessible by UCS.
Another new UCS feature (one which was not available on the older Lync Phone Edition devices) is the ability to unlock the phone directly with the signed-in user’s password. In the event that a user forgets the device unlock PIN the phone can still be unlocked with the account’s password by tapping the “?” padlock icon above to access the screen shown below.
Unlocking the phone with this method will immediately prompt the user to create a new device PIN.
One Touch Meeting Join
Borrowing functionality already brought to the Polycom Trio the VVX can now more easily join Lync or Skype for Business meeting available on the phone’s calendar which were sent by third parties. In the past receiving an Outlook invitation for an online meeting from a user outside of the same Microsoft Exchange environment may not trigger the creation of a Join button, or may create the Join button but selecting it only dials the PSTN Conferencing dial-in number. Typically only meetings sent by users in the same organization would allow this one touch join capability, but if filtering of Transport Neutral Encapsulation Format (TNEF) was manually disabled between email organizations then the Join button would function as desired.
This one-off approach of enabling some level of customized SMTP formatting support between organizations is not scalable so several Skype for Business clients and devices have been shedding this requirement for the past year. At this point most of all the clients and devices available are now able to properly parse the body of the invitation to find the meeting information and no longer rely on header information that may have been stripped from the email during transit.
The example shown below is a Skype for Business meeting sent from an on-premises user in organization A to a Skype for Business Online user in organization B. The Join button also still appears in the meeting reminder alert.
A few call transfer improvements have been made to the workflow for delegate call handling in Boss/Admin scenarios.
- The Resume soft key now is only displayed when a transferred call is returned to the delegate’s phone.
- Putting the handset back into the cradle will no longer end the transferred call as it will be placed on hold.
- If a transferred call is returned to a delegate then the delegate’s phone will play an alert tone.
- If a transferred call is not answered the call is automatically resumed on the delegate’s phone.
In the Skype for Business Server July 2016 Cumulative Update Microsoft added additional calling features for handling inbound calls to clients which are already in a call. These Busy Options are now supported by VVX which includes Busy on Busy and Voicemail on Busy. As the two names indicate the configuration applied to the phone’s registered user account will trigger either a busy signal or an immediate forward to voice mail on incoming calls when the callee is already in a call or conference.
Siren7 Codec Support
As UCS does not support the RTAudio (RTA) codec then one scenario where there has historically been a bit of a gap is when a VVX phone joins a Lync or Skype for Business conference running on the AVMCU. The standard Microsoft soft clients will typically leverage RTA as a means to provide wideband audio in a low-bandwidth capable codec, but the VVX phones will be default negotiate G.722. While the audio quality of G.722 is excellent in these scenarios the average bandwidth utilization can be higher when compared with RTA. (Note that the VVX 201 model does not support Siren7).
By adding support for SIREN7 in UCS the phone’s now have another option available that Lync and Skype AVMCUs also support. The codec is not enabled by default and must be added to the “In Use” codec priority list on the phone. While this can be enabled using the standard provisioning parameters it is also very easy to enable using the phone’s embedded web browser.
- Using the UCS web management interface browse to Settings > Codec Priorities
- Under the Audio Codec Priority section In the Unused field highlight the Siren7 (16 kbps) entry and then add it to the In Use field on the right. Move the new codec to the desired order for the intended results. In this example the codec was moved to the top to perform testing but should not necessarily be placed that high in the order.
- To test the change select Meet Now from the home screen on the VVX to start a new online meeting and establish an audio session with the Skype for Business server.
- Press the Home key and then navigate to Settings > Status > Diagnostics > Media Statistics to display the following window and verify the codec currently in use.
Set Logging Levels
This feature was actually added back in the UCS 5.5.2 release. It allows the phone to read the in-band logging level configuration defined in a Lync Server or Skype for Business Server on-premises deployment controlled by the Set-CsUCPhoneConfiguration cmdlet. The cmdlet LoggingLevel parameter can be set to Off, Low, Medium, or High values.
The following table lists the individual component logging values in the phone that are configured in conjunction with each of the four possible values in the server parameter.