Microsoft, Zoom and Vonage challenged to fix audio issues in video meetings

The issue was raised during the opening session of the Enterprise Connect conference.

CONNECT THE COMPANY – How often are your customers in video conferences when the mic or speakers fail, even though they were working fine moments earlier? This is actually a common problem that even those with technical skills in device management face. On Monday, a prominent industry consultant challenged major players to fix it.

CEO of CT Link Jim burton, who co-moderated the opening of the general session of Company Login virtual conference, raised the question. Burton lamented that when he has a video meeting using one vendor’s platform, then joins one on another vendor’s platform, the mic, speakers, or camera suddenly doesn’t work. more. It turns out that the previous vendor’s app took control of the device, Burton said.

“This creates a real problem,” said Burton, speaking to the panel of senior officials from Cisco Webex, Microsoft, RingCentral, BlueJeans by Verizon, Vonage and Zoom. Burton said each platform locks down these device settings, causing conflicts when jumping to another vendor’s video conferencing service.

“Are you ready to do something about it?” Burton asked. “Are you ready to make changes to your platform, so that you release these elements so that we don’t have these kinds of issues?” “

Burton asked Scott Van Vliet, the corporate vice president who leads Microsoft’s Intelligent Conversation and Communications Cloud (IC3) team, to answer first, looking at it from a Windows operating system perspective.

Microsoft’s Scott Van Vliet

“In Windows, audio devices are shared resources. And there is a multiplexer on the device that actually collects the audio, ”Van Vliet replied.

While he has more expertise with video, he said Microsoft wanted to allow multiple apps to access a camera feed. The challenge is to do this without compromising security and privacy, Van Vliet explained.

“When you’ve got your video and microphone on, you want to make sure the app that’s using it is the app you’re in,” he said. “Maintaining a lock on assets, especially a camera, is, in my opinion, essential to the experience. But nevertheless, I think we can seek to understand how [we can make it] job.”

A multi-OS problem

This will vary between different operating systems, Van Vliet added.

“For Windows, you’ll have a set of experiences for the APIs that control the resources our apps leverage, and on macOS, you’ll have a different experience,” he said. “And of course, iOS and Android mobile devices will have a different set of sandbox rules that will apply to those operating systems in terms of camera access. So, for example, if you minimize your app on the device, your camera will be muted.

RingCentral Executive Vice President of Products and Engineering Nat Nataragan said that once Microsoft creates a protocol, his company will adopt it.

Nat Natarajan from RingCentral

Nat Natarajan from RingCentral

“Obviously it’s not a great user experience today,” Nataragan said. “We are committed to delivering an exceptional user experience on any platform. So my commitment is that when OS vendors find protocols that are easy to follow, we will. “

Nonetheless, in many cases, like the mic output, “it’s not an operating system issue,” Burton said. “You’ve locked out what you need to do to make the call, but you can release them at the end. I know everyone has to devote time to it.

Burton challenged the panelists to let him know within two weeks how long it will take to resolve the issue. All have said they will.

“I don’t think we are blocking resources; I have to confirm it, ”said Harry mosley, Global CIO of Zoom.

Savinay Bay, Vonage executive vice president of products and engineering, said providing seamless transition and security is not enough to deliver a great user experience. It’s also things like battery life, ”he said. “Imagine if you now have three or four video streams playing simultaneously on a mobile device, what that does to overall battery life. “

Eric Spadafora, vice president and general manager of BlueJeans by Verizon, said the industry should try to improve interoperability.

“As an industry, interoperability remains a central point for us,” said Spadafora. “We are going to look at the discreet hanging-up of calls. But I think that’s where I think we can all work together to make sure we provide that smooth platform. “

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