Skype for Business vs Lync UI Changes


One of the most noticeable changes from Skype for Business (SfB) to Lync Server 2013 is the client user interface.

First, the Lync 2013 client will simply become the SfB client.  The client will ship with two UI’s or skins.  This will allow administrators to choose which one works best for their environment.

Second, the SfB client is going to be distributed via Windows Update as an Office update.  The UI is going to be controlled initially based on the backend server platform you have.  That is the client will detect if you are homed on Lync 2013 and present the 2013 UI.  If you connect to a SfB backend, it will display that UI.  However, that said, you have the ability to control the UI via policy as well.  This would allow you to upgrade the backend of your deployment, leave the Lync 2013 UI for the time being until you are ready to train, etc.

Control the UI

The ability to control the UI is done via a client policy.


You can update your client policy using the following command:

Get-CsClientPolicy | Set-CsClientPolicy -EnableSkypeUI $true

During the testing of the new client it has been rumored that an update to the Lync Server 2013 will introduce the new EnableSkypeUI for those organizations not ready to move to SfB Server 2015.  I don’t know when this patch is going to be available or if one will be coming to Lync Server 2010.

However, you can control the client via registry as well.  The client policy is creating a local registry in the following location: HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\Lync\EnableSkypeUI


The EnableSkypeUI REG_BINARY can be set to either 01 00 00 00 (True) or 00 00 00 00 (False).  What I don’t understand is why a REG_DWORD wasn’t used instead.  Pushing REG_BINARY can be a bit of a pain so hopefully the Lync Server 2013 updates will be released soon.

UI Comparison

Here is a side-by-side comparison of the two clients.  Note that I’m using the EnableSkypeUI flag to flip between the UI’s so the build number of the clients are exactly the same.


There are some things that are immediately noticeable.  First, we have moved to the over used picture in a circle look.  Second, the default view takes up much more space then the old client.  Using the same resolution and window size we can see that we can’t fit as many people into the visible window.  That is unfortunate in my mind. There is plenty of white space between the contacts that could be removed.  Third, the presence icons have changed to small round circles instead of the color bar next to the pictures.  I’ll be honest this takes a bit of time to get used to.  I’ve looked at the client more than once and didn’t even notice the presence of the user.

Another change you can’t see in these pictures is that the default sounds have all changed from the Lync to Skype sounds.  I would highly recommend that you take a backup of the Lync sounds and distribute them to your users.   I understand the desire to make the new UI look and feel like the consumer version but changing the sound files may cause some administrative headaches.  Even running the client in Lync 2013 UI mode the sounds are still the new SfB sounds which might be unnerving for some users and result in unnecessary helpdesk calls.

I think the changes overall are a positive.  I have some issues with the UI much like I did when we moved from Lync 2010 to Lync 2013 but I do believe the client will resonate with end users.

Client Options


The SfB Client comes with a floating call control window that appears whenever the client is in the background.  This feature can be enabled or disabled in the General Settings.  This is also controlled in the registry via a DWORD entry of CallMonitorEnabled.


You can now control where the toaster pop appears in the SfB Client.  This is a significant change and one people have been asking requesting for a while.  While there are third party applications that do the same (and some do even more) it’s a welcome add to the client.


One of the huge complaints of Lync 2013 was the emoticons.  I never quite understood the rage but Microsoft has introduced the animated emoticons from the Skype Consumer client to the SfB Client.  However some people may not want to see a smily face vomit so you have the option to disable the animations.  This is controlled in the registry with EnableEmoticonAnimation.

There is a new Call Handling menu if you enable Call via Work but that will be discussed in-depth later on.


29 comments on “Skype for Business vs Lync UI Changes”

  1. Greg S (@GregSeeber) Reply

    Dang. I don’t’ get it … i’ve been working on this for a while now. I have the installer installed … i have my policy EnableSkypeUI $true .. I have entered the regedit via your screenshot exactly …. replication is wkring. I canNOT get this skypeUI to show up on my lync client. Any ideas?

    • Richard Brynteson Reply

      Only thing I can think of is that the patch didn’t take. What is your build number? (Note: I’m in TAP so mine might be different but it will help us figure it out as a starting point.)

    • Jeff B Reply

      We are seeing the same thing. All is configured but seeing the Lync UI only. I am on 15.0.4701.000

      • Jeff B Reply

        Figured out my problem. We use the 32-bit version of Lync client on 64-bit machines. Downloaded the incorrect version…

    • Matt Reply

      Did you install it over the click-to-run Office 365 ProPlus version? If so, it won’t work. You need to install it over the normal MSI version.


    • marian Reply

      I have the same problem, I installed SfB over “traditional” Office 2013 Pro Plus and I only get Lync 2013 UI 🙁 I have even reinstalled Lync still same issue 🙁

      • Rameshwar Reply

        Just try updating your office 365 pro using Internet and it should resolve your issue.

    • Jim E Reply

      I just installed SfB on my machine at work, and I’m so disappointed with the wasted space of the UI.

      In the contact list, I am configured for the “one line” display (pictures off) and had everything optimized to fit my contacts on the screen with no scrollbar. With the extra white space, I’ll always have a scrollbar unless I remove several contacts. Sad.

      And the entire Office 2013 garbage without being able to set the background colors is still very annoying. I like darker backgrounds, and am stuck with glaring white in Outlook and SfB, as there is apparently no way to develop my own color combinations. It’s a sad step backwards from previous versions.

      And the new SfB sounds. Argh! I had finally gotten used to the Lync sounds (after coming from WebEx Connect) and now I lost the Lync sounds…..

      • Richard Brynteson Reply

        Agreed on the whitespace, it’s annoying and I think many people have made their voice heard on this one. Maybe we will see a bit less whitespace in the future.

        As for Office 2013, I think 2016 fixes many of the color issues. In 2013 there is a dark theme which helps.

        Sounds, you get used to them.

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  3. Nic Reply

    I install the client and first time I ran I got the new UI, but when ever I restart the computer the UI reverts back to the old Lync view. I edit the registry HKEY_CURRENT_USERSoftwareMicrosoftOfficeLyncEnableSkypeUI to 01 00 00 00 and restart Skype for Business client and the new UI loads – but each time it resets. Has anyone else seen this or know how to stick with the new UI?

    • Hackmuss Reply

      I get this too – keeps setting itself back to the Lync UI. Could this be a client policy setting on the Lync Server side?

    • Timothy Reply

      Two possible reasons that I can see. (1) If you don’t have the Lync policy set to allow Skype UI, it will revert back every time you start it. (2) If you have GPO that overwrites it.

    • Ryan Reply

      Did you ever find a result for this Nic? We have the same/opposite problem, we’re forcing the UI back to Lync mode using EnableSkypeUI 00 00 00 00, it works the first time and the client downgrades/restarts with Lync UI, but every reboot it’s back to Skype UI and prompts the FRE dialogue again. When we put the settings in manually by regedit it works as expected, but when it’s implemented via GPP it resets each reboot… it’s bizarre.

  4. Mark Wilson Reply

    Hi Richard – I’m totally with you on the “over used picture in a circle look” and the use of space although I’m sure I’ll get used to it. One thing I’m interested in that you mentioned is “take a backup of the Lync sounds and distribute them to your users”. Is it as easy as tracking down the files and copying them around or is there a way to automagically configure the client with the Lync sounds? Mark

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  6. Timothy Reply

    I tried out the new UI and I really like it. They got rid of a lot (but not all) of the completely silly “hover UI” introduced in 2013. Now I can actually press dialpad numbers without mouse gymnastics. Really the only thing I don’t like is that incredible shrinking presence icons. My own icon in the task tray is so small you need a magnifying glass to see it. And the ones on the user pictures, I agree, are also awkward and easy to glance over unlike the Lync version.

    Well, step in the right direction, at least. Now I get to look forward to all the support calls about the difference between Skype for Business and Skype. **SIGH**

  7. bob Reply

    Hello Richard, what’s the easiest way to backup the lync 2013 sound and how would you restore it back to Skype for business client?

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  9. tab Reply

    Hello Richard,
    we upgraded SFB successfully and now we can’t delete users from contact list of SFB client. anything i need to do after upgrading?

  10. Andrew Reply

    When in a large group discussion I used to be able to hover over a users name for a pop-out from within the discussion to start a side conversation, however, I noted that functionality is missing. I can still go to the header bar in the discussion and hover over the name there for the pop-out, but that is a hassel when there are a lot of people in the discussion, much easier when able to grab the pop-out from within the discussion.

    Any solution for this functionality that seems to have disappeared???

  11. Jerry Persson Reply

    It appears the Meet Now feature in Skype for Business has changed from Lync? I believe in the past with Lync if you started a meeting via Meet Now you could add someone to the conversation if you had their email. It is now gone in Skype for Business and only can be done by sending a Skype invite through Outlook? Or am I missing something in Skype for Business to do an ad hoc “meet now” by sending an email while the Skype call had been started with Meet Now?

    • Richard Brynteson Reply

      You can add additional meeting to an ad-hoc (meet now) meeting. When you are in the meeting, if you click on the people button in the top left (next to where it says one participant) it will open the participant list and you can invite additional people to the ad-hoc meeting.

      • Jerry Persson Reply

        That works for people that are part of my company or using Office 365. What it doesn’t allow is the ability to send to an email address that is not found in the list. Working with new prospects they are not found in the people list so I can’t invite them to an ad hoc meeting if I am on the phone with them and want to share my screen on the fly.

    • Richard Brynteson Reply

      Based on the testing I’ve played with – it really didn’t matter at the time. Of course, MS could have changed course on this.

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