BToE actually works with Teams, but for how long?

Occasional Contributor
We are a Skype for Business online customer trying to wrestle with migrating to Teams. We currently use Polycom VVX devices with the BToE tool which really works well. It is pretty clear that MS is not going to implement this in Teams, which is unfortunate and typical of MS these days - high pressure to move to the latest system even though significant features are missing or immature.
Right now we are piloting some of our IT users in Teams only mode, and BToE actually still is working, presumably because Skype is still active underneath Teams for some functions.
Our firm is not ready to give up physical phones. I realize that trying to continue using BToE with Teams is unlikely to be a supported scenario, however we are in this transition period where we're starting to migrate and interoperability between Teams and Skype isn't great, so we need to move fairly quickly; sooner than when we will be able to get Teams-native phones and/or headsets (I'm not sure if Teams-native devices will even help), so we need a stopgap solution, if for nothing else than making the migration pain less just getting over to Teams even if that means having to take away BToE functionality later.
Two questions:
- What is the mechanism that makes BToE still function in Teams Only mode, and how long will this continue to keep working? In other words, when will MS kill this function - when the last Skype user in our tenant gets upgraded, a certain calendar date, etc.?
- Is MS planning some kind of BToe replacement functionality, such as answering the call on your Teams phone hardware but being able to see the call in progress on a PC or mobile device and being able to join a call in progress to facilitate switching devices or changing modes from voice only to screen sharing or video?
5 Replies

An update after living with Teams for the last several months: the story with Teams and 3PIP phones (e.g. Polycom VVX) sucks, with or without BToe.


BToe sort of works in Teams as long as the Skype client is still installed on the machine - you can use the Polycom phone as an audio device for Teams. By sort of I mean that it works about 85% the time, but the Polycom gets confused because the call rings on the Polycom as a call on that device, but also gets a second copy of the call via BToe (or at least that's what I believe is happening). This was a significant enough problem that we opted to uninstall BToe when we upgraded to Teams.


Since upgrading, we have had a number of issues with Teams and Polycom coexistence. The biggest ones relate to speed dial keys and call forwarding.


- If you migrate a user from Skype to Teams and that user has delegates enabled, these settings aren't cleared in Skype - they are just sort of "not active" when the Skype client isn't running on the PC. That doesn't help the Polycom though - it still signs in as a Skype device, and in at least some ways, that delegate relationship is still visible in the Polycom world, but often broken. Even if you recreate the settings in the Teams client, that doesn't clear out or replace the Skype delegate settings.  It seems the only way to fix this is to move the user temporarily back to Islands mode, have them delete the delegation relationship in Skype and then move them back to Teams Only mode.


- Most of our users like to have Skype presence/speed dial buttons on their Polycom screens. These are based on the Favorites grouping of the Skype client.  Once again, this functionality is not replaced by the Teams client - after migrating, it is still the Skype favorites list that controls the Polycom. You can turn Line Key Customization on on the Polycom and manually rebuild the list, but if you're also using any Polycom speed dials (non-Skype speed dials), these don't appear when LKC is on.  Once again, the only way to update the Polycom speed dials is to move the user back to Islands mode, fix up the list, and then migrate back to Teams.


One other issue we've discovered - if we migrate the Delegatee - the person who is the delegate of other users to Teams, the Polycom phone gets the delegated calls, but they no longer see the referring information. In our case, we have a front desk that monitors calls for a half dozen people, and they have no idea who the call is coming in for. The solution to this was migrating this particular user back to Skype mode.


We investigated putting in Polycom Teams phones, but apparently the state of the software is pretty poor as it relates to receptionist-style workflows and line appearances - MS' fault, not Polycoms, as MS writes the Teams client software and Polycom is just a black box. We have been told "Just put a PC up there with the Teams client", but in our case, this person has many other duties than just covering the phone, and a second PC signed in as the general front desk user would not be used enough to be practical.


MS - we're pretty tired of all of the sunshine saying that Teams is at feature parity with Skype when it clearly isn't. It would sure be great if you actually built features your users want. The top 5 feature requests in UserVoice are more than 3 years old.

@TJ Cornish 


The current state of Teams for any business that needs to use voice communication is sad. MS claims feature parity but it is far away. Little to no integration with physical phones is a joke. MS needs to puu their collective heads out of the cloud and realize that businesses need to interact with customers and customers don't want to put up with background noise or inability to talk because I am having a PC issue. We need the ability to use desk phones and it has to be reliable. 


The old "unsupported" VVX phones work better with teams than the new CCX phones do. Not being able to use the app to start a call with the phone is a joke.


The other issue issue is the pain involved in trying to do a staged migration. Meetings don't work between S4B and Teams. Why?


We don't want to be beta testers, but we are being forced to.

Have either of you progressed with your move to Teams? Looking to reference some real world usage for Teams voice in the SMB space. We are a small shop with 31 humans and not in need of a huge feature set of phone features. Would like to get some Teams voice feedback.


We have been full Teams since last fall. PM me if you want to have a phone conversation about what life has been like in more detail, but here are the highlights:


- We pulled BToE and just used our Polycom VVX phones standalone via web sign-in. BToE just wasn't worth the hassle.


- Teams is still not at feature parity with SfB for call flows - one of the major issues we had to deal with was the lack of a second forwarding hop. In SfB, you can have a user's phone ring immediately, have delegates ring after a delay, and then still forward somewhere. In Teams you can't - all delegates ring at the same time as the original phone.


- We have been working from home since about 3/15 due to COVID, so only a few people are using a Polycom phone daily. Those that are are actually harder to deal with from a support standpoint, as invariably they need something, but I have to ask them to hang up the call we are on and call me back from their Teams client so we can screen share.


- If COVID ever ends and we are back in some semblance of an office, we will have to figure out how to handle things. Some people will gratefully go back to their box with a handle on it; others have become accustomed to the headset workflow, but since our office world is desktop computers, that means three pieces of extra hardware - webcam/microphone, speakers, and the headset, and swapping devices around in software is clunkier than a box with buttons.


- I have not checked in lately to see if the replacement for BToE has been released for Teams-native devices like the Polycom CCX, but I can't see us buying them since it's very clear that MS doesn't care and wants to force everyone to using the software client. It remains to be seen if that decision is an Apple-esque "trust me, I know best" thing that actually works out or not. Microsoft doesn't have a great track record here.


- Teams reliability was unusably bad for various periods in the last 9 months - we had lots of calls where they didn't connect, audio was one-way, or other issues. It was especially bad in late March/April as MS apparently wasn't prepared for the sudden usage increase due to COVID. It has been quite a bit better for the last 2-3 months, but I just got a report yesterday from a user saying a large percentage of his calls don't compete on the first try lately.


- Until about March, the Teams phone app was unusable. There was so much ring latency that about 75% of the time the call was already headed to voicemail before the app rang. They did something and it's much better now.


- The one place we aren't full Teams is our "front desk" phone. It's a Polycom VVX with sidecar. That configuration works better as a SfB only client, but it's a pain in the butt to change call forwarding settings if you don't have access to the Polycom (all employees are at home). The solution is to log into the SfB client as the front desk phone user, but MS makes it hard to get the SfB app (SfB Basic is what you probably have, but that can't do call forwarding even if the user is licensed), you need to get the SfB 2015 version which is a separate download. You are then stuck in a bunch of misery related to activation and licensing garbage trying to use a second user login on a PC with standard E5 licensing.


The short version - Teams has gone from an unfinished bucket of junk 6 months ago requiring constant apologizing for to my users (e.g. huge number of incomplete/failed calls) to something reasonably useful, but only if you stay in the center lane. Any complicated call coverage situations, device requirements, etc. are perilous. The good news for me personally is COVID has hidden a lot of the limitations as people are forced to work more in the style of what MS envisioned Teams to be - remote knowledge workers. 

@Team_FMI I agree with @TJ Cornish For the most part Teams now works as long as you use the vanilla voice features. Having everyone remote without hardware phones has made it work. If we would go back to everyone in the office using vvx phones I think the level of frustration would remain low as it is mostly working for answering calls. The lack of integration with the app does cause some lack of productivity since the app has no way of knowing you are in a call. Other Teams functions like sharing can't be used unless the call is restarted with all users on the app.


I have two ccx phones that I acquired for testing. the last software update makes them a little more user friendly but without the bluetooth connection to the app being available they are nothing more than expensive dumb phones. I am looking forward to the next release and hope they might become usable for our executives.  At this point I don't see us purchasing hardware phones for lower level employees  but just headsets.