[QQ]WHAT IS IT?[QQ]ings can be a tricky business if your members are geographically dispersed and can only communicate over the phone. Lance Concannon digs up a hidden treasure from the Microsoft Web site which allows you to share text-based and visual ideas over the Internet. Software for communicating with people over the Internet.[QQ] Microsoft Netmeeting is a remarkably useful piece of software which performs several worthwhile communications functions. Broadly speaking, Netmeeting allows you to communicate with people over the Internet using many different methods: it can act as an audio/video netphone, a real-time text-based chat forum, or an online whiteboard. It also allows you to share control of applications with people in remote locations.[QQ] Internet telephony is nothing new, but Netmeeting delivers, in our opinion, the best quality results of any product in this class. That said, don't get too excited because, even with a machine which exceeds the recommended specification, you're likely to encounter problems.[QQ] The quality of the audio and video is certainly not on a par with dedicated hardware systems (that is, an ordinary telephone). The fundamental problem is that the Internet simply isn't up to the job of carrying the vast amounts of data required for this kind of communication quickly enough to be of any real use.[QQ] Netmeeting is compatible with the H.323 standard devised for Internet telephony, which means you can communicate with any other product which is H.323-compliant. However, in order to do so, you must first connect to a directory server, which will allow you to locate the other users with whom you want to participate in a conference.[QQ] Microsoft maintains several such servers on the Internet, and there are a couple run by third parties. As these are open to the general - and not so general - members of the public they are subject to all the usual technical and social variables; so there are bound to be bandwidths which are taken up by anoraks and freaks desperate to talk to you about Star Trek and/or child pornography. An ideal alternative would be to host a private directory server on a corporate intranet.[QQ] Regardless of the inconsequential voice/video capabilities, Netmeeting can be used as a powerful communication tool in a number of other ways.[QQ] For instance, the software allows up to 32 people to participate in real-time text chat, whiteboarding and application sharing in an online conference.[QQ] This means everybody in the conference - regardless of their geographical location - is able to enter text messages for everybody else to read and can draw on an electronic whiteboard which everybody else can see. This has significant business advantages for companies which rely on the fast development of visual ideas, but it can also speed up the painstaking process of 'toing and froing' by fax machine documents which need regular revision, such as contracts and legal paperwork.[QQ] Another really useful feature is application sharing. Users can select windows or applications from their desktop to share with the conference.[QQ] This allows everybody else to see exactly what you do in the selected windows, and by itself is a powerful tool for delivering presentations to groups of people in widespread locations.[QQ] Not only does Netmeeting enable everyone to see the same windows, but it also allows you to pass control of the application between anybody participating in the conference. This, too, is a powerful tool, but is also potentially dangerous: it can be used for all manner of training and collaborative applications, but it can also be used to hand control of your desktop to someone on the other side of the world. It doesn't take much imagination to appreciate that, used inappropriately, this feature could wreak havoc. Fortunately it's quite easy to cut off external control by simply hitting the escape key. Also, a simple drag-and-drop operation allows you to send copies of any given file to all the other conference participants.[QQ] [QQ] NETMEETING FACTS[QQ] Contact: Microsoft on 0345 002000 or at www.microsoft.com/netmeeting[QQ] Price: Free to licensed Windows users.[QQ] Applications: for communicating in online meetings with people around the world - particularly where the fast development of ideas, both text-based and visual, is essential. Also for remote team workers who need to develop work on the same document; and for online presentations.[QQ] Netmeeting provides you with a far better alternative to tele-conferencing, allowing a richer range of information to be shared effectively among a larger group of people. There's a number of potential applications for this package, but the most obvious are online training and sales presentations.[QQ] It's simple, effective, and definitely one of Microsoft's best kept secrets.
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