This particular article is targeting a Microsoft Administrator or IT technician who is tasked with building a Teams Conference room. I am not naturally a Microsoft Administrator and after successfully accomplishing building a simple to use, appliance like, Microsoft Team conference room for an enterprise environment. I was compelled to publish this process because it was so incredibly frustrating.
I was not interested in purchasing a completely off-the-shelf package that comes bundled with either additional license fees or a bunch of unknowns. So, I took on the challenge of having terrible, if not almost useless documentation to get it done. I am going to explain in a simple, step-by-step process to go from taking your Windows 10 or 11 computer into a functional, appliance-like conference room setup that will provide an easy interface for even the technologically challenged to be successful.
I have been blessed with a new, and frankly, fantastic employment opportunity. Something that is too good to be true. The only real downside to the job is that it is very much a Microsoft shop and I do not care for using Windows but the work is incredibly engaging. I mean this in the nicest possible way, Windows is terrible. Truly, having to use it again, I find it frustrating, limiting and just an all around unhappy experience but I found a way to use Linux Desktop where ever possible for my day-to-day work.
Bottom Line Up Front: Microsoft and Logitech have terrible documentation with Teams and the TAP Controller, respectively. Logitech wants you to use their package deal that includes a pre-configured NUC with a modified version of Windows or Android. I didn’t find that to be a reasonable solution so I chose to bang my head against the wall instead.
I don’t normally cover things that have nothing to do with Linux but I’ll get the Linux tie in here even if it is a bit contrived.
The situation for this was as such. There is an existing room that is already set up for doing Zoom conferencing in a kind of Kiosk mode using a Kindle Fire Tablet as the control surface. The Microphone situation was in need of improvement. An existing webcam was in place that was satisfactory and for the 16 person maximum capacity room, was satisfactory. It doesn’t do the fancy zooming and panning but it does capture the entirety of the conference table.
The first and possibly most important bit of this whole endeavor is the computer. For this project there is already a computer running Windows 10. It has been fully configured with all the corporate policies and such.
The display for this conference room is a more than adequate, large TV that is at the very minimum is Full HD, maybe better. It’s large with more than acceptable picture quality for the purposes of video conferencing. It fits the room and that is the important part here. The exact size, I am not quite sure but it is larger than the TV I have in my own home.
The webcam, which was also already in place is adequate as well. It meets the minimum expectations one would have for a conference room. As previously mentioned, it captures the entirety of the room but lacks any fancy zoom and pan features to focus in on the person speaking. Ultimately, this meets expectations for the minimum requirements of a conference room.
The first major purchase item on my list was the Logitech Tap Console. After reviewing many of the options, this one appeared to meet the requirements and have the best price to feature value. This is actually a really neat device. Using the DisplayLink display drivers, it acts as a secondary display that can be manipulated by the operating system as you would see fit. So, at the very minimum, this could be just a second display that you can touch for input purposes.
This kit includes the touch display and a module to allow for USB over CAT5 so you can run the control surface a significant distance away from the computer. In this case, I was running a cable at about 20 feet in length. The CAT5 cable terminates under the bottom cover of the machine routed in such a way to prevent strain on the connector ends.
For the purpose of easily displaying content from a computer or other HDMI capable device, I routed the included HDMI cable through the back as well before closing up the bottom case.
The other end of this plugs into a USB A 3.0 slot on the Windows 10 PC along with a PoE box to power this device, included with this kit. At the time of writing, this kit cost $1000.
Shure provides a tool where you can draw out the size of your room and place various bits of their to determine proper coverage. I decided that for this room, I wanted a nice clean setup so I went with the Shure STEM Microphone that covered the entirety of the room quite well.
Shure provides a conference room design tool to help you build your room. I took the dimensions of the room and placed various hardware bits to support my hardware decisions.
The nice thing about this particular device is that it can be plugged directly in via USB with a 30ft long USB A to USB B. It does have to be powered via PoE+ injector. Since this room is being set up quite simply, there was no need to utilize the Shure STEM HUB device to coordinate speakers.
I do want to note that I have set up another conference room using the STEM HUB for coordinating multiple STEM Ceiling microphones along with an existing audio system. That works quite nicely as it presents the microphone and speakers as a microphone and speaker USB devices.
This is the irritating part of the whole project. The documentation on Microsoft’s site is incomplete and does not tell you what software to even install for a Teams Room. In fact, there is no software available called “Teams Room” even though all the marketing garbage refers to setting up Teams Rooms. It should also be noted that Logitech was not any help in this matter either as they asked me to “…please ask Microsoft about this issue.”
In short, there is not a Teams Room application to install. It was only after hours of digging through help files and forum posts that I found that the application to install to have a fully functional Teams Room System utilizing the Logitech Tap is called “Skype Room System”
This will take you to a place to download the application onto the Windows system.
I am highly irritated that this is not well documented anywhere. Searching for “Skype Room System” on the store page will also not find this application. It is hidden for some bizarre reason.
Surprisingly, after launching it the application knew to turn the Logitech Tap into the control surface and the screen into the display as you would expect. It work so cleanly that I have not a single complaint… except the fact that it was an aggravating journey to find it.
Autostart Teams Room
The next step was to make this application launch at startup. The way this machine is configured, when it boots, it automatically starts a specific user session and when that user session starts.
First, find Skype Rooms System App in the menu, right-click on it and select “Open file location”. You should see the file manager open with the location of the Skype Rooms Application Shortcut
Press the Windows (Meta) Key + R, type shell:startup in the prompt and select OK.
Copy and paste the shortcut from the file location to the Startup folder.
For my purposes, I needed to set up this computer to automatically log into Windows in addition to auto starting the Skype Room System / Microsoft Teams Room. I used this resource from HelpDeskGeek.com to make the adjustments in the Windows Registry.
Use that reference I have no motivation to repeat the information from that reference here. I much prefer to talk about Linux and openSUSE things than Windows things…
In order to set up Teams Rooms you have to have a proper Teams Room License either Basic or Pro. There is no additional cost for the first 25 Basic licenses for an organization. Further information on buying the free license can be found here.
You will have to assign that license to a ‘user’ that is associated with the teams room. Refer to the Microsoft Documentation on accomplishing this as well.
On the Teams Room Console, you will have to add the user login information for the Teams Room to work correctly.
Running The Teams Room
Once you launch the application Windows will automatically detect that the the Logitech console as the console and the main display as the room display. There was no extra configuration required for this arrangement.
Detailed instruction on inviting a teams room to a meeting is not going to be a part of this article. It has droned on long enough. In short, you can invite your teams room as though it were any other participant and the console and screen display will show it on the agenda for the day.
The whole process is pretty slick and works quite well. Keep in mind that there is a few second to a few minute delay between the email being sent, the room to accept the meeting if the time slot is available and for it to display it on the agenda.
What I Like
There is a solution that actually works well that anyone can do. It starts up and behaves like an appliance, just as one would want. So long as the people in the organization are properly trained on how to use it, it works very well.
The Logitech TAP Console works very well. The interface is clean and responsive. The flexibility of using a CAT5 cable to string the thing to the location of your choosing is incredibly convenient. The optional HDMI cable that is connected to it is great for those that just want to sit in the conference room, plug in and present something locally. The Logitech TAP Console is a brilliant device.
The Shure STEM Ceiling Microphone is a great device, albeit a bit expensive. The choice for putting the microphone in the ceiling makes for a much cleaner room configuration. I already have too many devices strung under the table so this ceiling mounted pickup works great and frankly, looks pretty cool tool.
What I Don’t Like
Windows is frustrating to configure. This doesn’t relate directly to setting up the Teams Room but it is a part of it. Having to dig into the registry to auto login is kind of a pain and you do input the user password in the clear when doing this. I just think this is a silly way to manage a system.
The method to do the Automatically starting an application in Windows is simple enough if you know what to type in but certainly not as clean and elegant as how you would do this on KDE Plasma or LXQt Desktop Environments. Sure, it’s fine I just think it is pretty clunky.
Windows is a funny thing. After a while of having these conference rooms running, I discovered that they need to be rebooted periodically. Currently I have a rule set through the domain controller to reboot these things weekly. If not, the touch interfaces tend to become unresponsive. I don’t know why but they do and this is the quick and easy workaround.
Microsoft and Logitech should have better documentation to get a Teams Room up and operational with some simple to follow documentation. I am absolutely shocked at the neither Logitech nor Microsoft could point me to the right direction. Only after digging through help pages and forum posts was I able to stumble upon a link to the Skype Room System application in the Microsoft Store. The fact it is hiding is bonkers and is quite frustrating. Hopefully, this will be useful to someone else trying to do the same.
Microsoft has done a smashingly fine job of reinforcing my decision to stick with Linux and open software in my personal life. I understand why many companies use Microsoft products but the way they document what should be simple and straight forward projects is sad. I appreciate how well Teams Room works but I don’t appreciate at all that they keep it hidden under a completely different name.
Logitech Tap Controller Cat5e
Learn.Microsoft.com Teams Room Deployment Information
Skype Room System App
Automatically Start App in Windows 10
Microsoft Teams Room License
Shure Conference Room Design Tool