Last Updated on March 26, 2021 by GrahamWalsh
Back at Microsoft Ignite 2019, Microsoft showcased to the world a new feature called Guest Join Access for Webex and Zoom on the Microsoft Teams Rooms (MTR) systems. Full overview here. Fast forward six months and we now have the Webex version that was in testing and now released. I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to test this and provide feedback to Microsoft on this feature. So let’s have a look at the various workflows.
First of all, you need the Microsoft Teams Room App version 220.127.116.11 or later. The updated app will be delivered via the Microsoft Store. Once installed, you will need to enable the Third Party Join either via the Center of Room Console or via the XML. It is not yet available via the the Teams Admin Center. See the options below.
Center of Room Console Config
You have the option of using the room information that may be sent to the third party service. As you will see below, I have chosen to use custom info and placed that in the Name and Email box below.
If you want to push the config out to your MTR devices via the XML config, you can use the below settings to add/modify your system. These are top level configurations in the XML config. Full details here on the Microsoft docs site.
<SkypeSettings> <WebExMeetingsEnabled>true</WebExMeetingsEnabled> </SkypeSettings>
Exchange Mailbox Config
Depending on where the invites will originate from, you may have to check the policies on the meeting room resource account and enable/set them as per the below. Full details from Microsoft here or see my previous blog here.
-ProcessExternalMeetingMessages$true -DeleteComments$false -DeleteSubject$false
Optional Config depending on security rules
Depending on your security settings for your Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) in Microsoft 365, you may have to set up a custom do-not-rewrite URLs list using ATP Safe Links. This is only possible if you have Microsoft 365 E5 license as it is included. If you do not have this, you may require an ATP Plan 1 or 2. What you will need to do is disable the re-write of links for *.webex.com. Full details here on the Microsoft docs site.
Sending the MTR an invite
I’ve logged into my free Webex account and I can see my scheduled meetings and also schedule a new one.
Now all I’ve done is clicked on the big Schedule button in the top right and entered a Meeting Topic and invite people including the MTR. I am able to do this as I have allowed
Now that I’ve scheduled my meeting, I can just from my desktop/laptop by clicking on Start Meeting. I can either use a WebRTC compatible browser or the Webex client (if I have it installed). The invite has then been sent to the Microsoft Teams Room system (based on permissions).
Below is what the MTR receives from the Webex service firstly in the calendar view of the MTR resource account, I’ve logged in via Outlook on the Web to view this.
This is what the meeting looks like on the MTR console. When it is time for the meeting, the colour changes 😊
During the Meeting
On the Webex side of things, I can use the installable Webex client or I can use a browser with WebRTC. Below is where I have joined with my Windows Webex client.
So we simply press the Join button the MTR centre of room console and we will be connected to the meeting. This is what it looks like when joining a meeting. Note that the limitation of the Third Party Join is that it is for single displays only. If you have a dual screen setup, the second screen will be blank. I have put the text in the images below for reference.
Once the media has been established, we then see and hear both ends.
Now lets take a closer look at the Centre of Room (CoR) console. As you can see below, we have the title of the meeting and who was invited. In the bottom left, we have Show meeting on this device. This means it will bring the Front of Room (FoR) display over the to console, basically replicating it. This is used for when you may extra things you need to do to verify your identity say on joining the Webex meeting. This would not be required if you had a FoR touch screen as you could do that from there, but sometimes you may not want to leave your seat. You then have all the normal call controls that you would expect, camera on/off, microphone on/off, volume control and then finally Room Control (if you have Pan, Tilt, Zoom or other room control features say from Crestron. We then have the Leave icon to disconnect from the meeting.
When you move the toggle for Show meeting on this device, this is the experience.
From the Webex client, I am able to share my screen or application. In this case, I have selected PowerPoint as the app to share and I’ve made it full screen on my Windows Desktop. If it is not full screen, then there will be a blank area as per the 2nd image below. In the third image below, I have shared a Whiteboard from the Webex client. Users on the MTR can receive what is being drawn, but you cannot interact with it, even if you have an FoR touchscreen monitor. This feature must not be in Web Client that MTR uses. You also have the option of using Webex Screen Sharing here too.
Sharing from the MTR HDMI ingest (or other solution such as Crestron AirMedia with Miracast) is not supported. Users are notified on the Front of Room Screen about this.
When the user on the Webex side of the call records the meeting, an indicator is show on the FoR screen in the top left. There is no audio prompt to tell users this is being recorded.
If the Webex user shares some text chat, URLs etc during the meeting, the MTR has no idea of any of this, so don’t expect people in the room to get any of the chat.
You have the usual controls in the Webex client and the MTR will adhere to them. For example, if you want to remove a system from the call, it will terminate, if you want to move an MTR to the lobby, you can do that too. Mute and Unmute works as well
Here is a video demo I’ve recorded on using the MTR and Webex. In the video I show scheduling the call from the Webex Outlook Add-in.
As mentioned earlier, the Webex Meeting must be started. This is also now shown in the latest build (18.104.22.168) as a banner if you try to join a Webex that hasn’t been started. Also over on the Microsoft Tech Community, Tim provided some good insight to Webex meeting types. I’ve detailed this below from Tim.
@Graham Walsh found today that meetings created in Webex as a personal room meeting work fine sent as guest join to an MTR. The join button is formatted as “company.webex.com/meet/my.name”. Meetings created in a Webex Space that format the join button as “company.webex.com/m/gibberish” do not work when an MTR is invited. I tried re-formatting the hyperlink, changing the “m” to “meet” but that didn’t work either. I also note that some Webex Spaces create meetings with a “company.webex.com” link and some create meetings with a “web.ciscospark.com” link. I can’t seem to find the logic/common denominator on the difference in the Spaces but neither of them work as guest join on an MTR anyway.
Also published on Medium.