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Instant Messaging Services

CIT offers Instant Messaging (IM) services, both enterprise and external, as a way to connect co-workers through direct, live interaction online. IM is a near-instantaneous way to chat informally, via text, audio, video, or voice with one person or a group across geographical distances. With IM, it’s easy to stay in touch with the most important part of your work environment – the other people on your team.

Enterprise Instant Messaging with Microsoft Lync (formerly Office Communicator Service)
CIT offers NIH staff an easy and safe enterprise IM solution using Microsoft Lync (formerly OCS). Lync can be installed on the desktop and has a web version that provides similar features using a browser ( Lync integrates with other Microsoft applications such as SharePoint, Outlook, and Outlook Web Access (OWA). There are Lync clients for multiple platforms, including BlackBerry, iPhone, and the iPad.
Instant Messaging Outside of the NIH
You can use Lync to chat with contacts on the outside of the NIH who use the following public IM providers:
  • MSN Messenger 6.2 and later
  • Windows Live Messenger 8.0 and later
  • AOL Instant Messenger (AIM)
  • Yahoo Messenger 6.0.01750 and later
  • Google Talk
You can chat with non-Lync users outside NIH by first adding them to your Lync contacts. The non-NIH user then has to accept the IM invitation before you can begin communicating. Step by step instructions for adding non-Lync contacts from outside NIH can be found in the NIH IT Service Desk Knowledge Base under the topic Using Microsoft Office Communicator (OCS) and Lync to IM with non-OCS users.
For more assistance, please contact the NIH IT Service Desk.

Customer Benefits

  • It’s fast, secure, and convenient – no need to be in the office, just have a quick chat.
  • It’s compatible with your system – Lync easily integrates with SharePoint 2007+ and Outlook 2007+, and has versions that can be used by Windows, Mac, iPhone, and BlackBerry.
  • It can provide a real-time availability status (“presence”) of other staff members – it automatically adjusts and presents user status and availability within Outlook, SharePoint, and in many other programs, and also has options for setting levels of privacy.
  • It offers one-on-one video and audio communications, and group chat − have team meetings online!
  • It allows sharing of the desktop − IT staff can remotely support teleworkers with software problems.

Customer Market

This service is available to all NIH customers.

Frequently Asked Questions


Q: How do I get Lync?
A: To request a license (CAL) and installation, please submit a service request to the NIH IT Service Desk (
Q: How do I send an IM with Lync?
A: Just double-click one of your contacts. Lync will open a dialog box in which you type your message. The text is sent every time you hit enter. To add more people to your chat, use the Invite button at the top.
Q: How do I start an audio/video chat?
A: In your contact list, right-click on the contact you want to call, and then click “Start a Video Call.”
Multi-party audio/video conferencing and web conferencing (with shared whiteboard and applications) is available with a higher level license. Please contact ISDP for more information.
Q: What are those colorful dots next to people's names?
A: Those icons represent availability status or "presence" information. Green means "available," orange and red mean "busy," "in a meeting," or "does not want to be disturbed," and yellow means "away from the computer," and pale pink and white mean the person is offline or does not have Lync. Colors change according to your calendar information and usage of the keyboard, and presence can also be set manually by you.
Q: What else can Lync do?
A: One of the most helpful features that can be a real benefit to team members or desktop support staff who are geographically disparate (on-, off-campus, or teleworking) is called "sharing the desktop". For example, you can collaborate with team members on documents by sharing your desktop to show them what you are working on, and "take control" to allow them to edit your documents directly. Sharing and taking control also allows desktop support to assist you with computer problems from a distance.
To share your desktop, right-click a contact name, and then click Share, click Share Desktop.
To allow others to share and take control of your desktop, click the arrow next to the Sharing button and choose “Share Control" or "Share Control with All Participants.” The other participant will see a Take Control button, which they can click to control the applications on your desktop. A green frame will appear around the edges of your monitor for the time that another person has control - you can end sharing or control at any time.

Note: Unlike in OSC, the option to initiate the “Share Desktop” feature in Lync is available only with a higher-level license. Please contact ISDP for more information about the available licenses.

However, a user with a higher-level license can enable others to share their desktop. The user with the higher-level license starts a conference in Lync (Meet Now) and invites the user(s) who want to share their desktop. Once those users have joined the conference, depending on the initiator’s conference settings, the conference attendees will either automatically be designated as presenters, or can be designated as such individually by the conference initiator. Once you have been made a presenter, the Share Desktop option will appear in your Lync chat window, and you can share your desktop with those in the conference.

Q: We’ve been using Share Desktop in OSC. Now that we have upgraded to Lync, does this feature still work?
A: Yes, but in Lync, initiating the Share Desktop feature is tied to a higher-level license. That means you need someone with a higher-level license to start the sharing. If you are the one who wants to share your desktop but you only have a standard license, you will have to ask a user with a higher-level license to make you a presenter. See the previous question for more details.

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This page last reviewed: March 09, 2011