An Unusual Zoom Problem: When The Hyperlink Won't Link!

Two groups that I'm active in, our church (Calvary Church, Roseville, MN) and the Twin Cities PC Users' Group, have moved many of their meetings "into the cloud" using Zoom.  I can categorize new Zoom users into three categories:

  1. People who are able to get Zoom installed and running on their device(s) by simply following a meeting invitation hyperlink and letting the automated process work.  The overwhelming majority of new Zoom users fall into this class.
  2. People who need a little help understanding the process and need prompting to follow the normal path.  I'm guessing that maybe 10% of new Zoom users fall into this category.
  3. People who get Zoom installed correctly but find that normal Zoom meeting hyperlinks don't work.  This doesn't happen often, but it does happen enough to require a circumvention.

That third category is what this blog post is all about.

To understand this problem, we first must understand the mechanics, at least from a 10,000' level, of how a Zoom meeting hyperlink works/is supposed to work.

  1. The potential attendee clicks on the hyperlink while viewing an invitation email message.
  2. This causes the computer to pass the link to the default browser, e.g., Edge, Safari, Chrome or Firefox.
  3. Magic happens (OK, I don't know the exact details here, so maybe it's not magic.) and the browser, or Zoom code invoked by the browser, determines if the Zoom program is installed on the computer.  This is our first potential point of failure.
  4. If Zoom isn't installed, magic happens again and an attempt to download and install Zoom is made.  This is likely to invoke User Access Control (UAC) on more modern computers and cause the user to be required to allow the download and installation.  This is the second potential point of failure, i.e., Zoom doesn't get downloaded or doesn't get installed.
  5. The Zoom program is loaded and passed the meeting information.  This is the third potential point of failure.

It's pretty easy to correct the problems installing the Zoom client program.  We can explicitly download the program from the Zoom website, we choose the Zoom Client for Meetings.  This is the most likely problem we see; a few minutes time, maybe using a remote control solution (TeamViewer has been extremely helpful here) and we're happy ever after.

But that leaves two other points of failure with the common result of not being able to get from the browser to the program.  I've identified two causes, but there may be more:

  1. A "modern" computer, e.g., current operating system and browsers, may be misconfigured for our purposes.  There may be valid reasons for this, e.g., a computer used in some corporate environments, e.g., work from home.  If this is the case we can't/shouldn't correct this problem lest we cause problems elsewhere.
  2. Older computers with obsolete operating systems and browsers, e.g., Windows 7 and Internet Explorer, may not be able to run the code necessary to go from browser to Zoom client.  Yes, there's no good excuse for still running Windows 7, but there's no quick solution to this problem.

That leaves us without a way to correct the problem, so we must circumvent the problem.  We're going to have to provide a process to manually start the Zoom client program and provide credentials (Meeting ID and Password) to join a meeting.

The following video describes the problem and demonstrates a solution:

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