Someone must have made a rule that no one tool is allowed to have EVERYTHING that you need and want. When it comes to web conferencing, the major players, such as Webex and Live Meeting, offer relatively mature products, so it's hard to accept their limitations. Consequently, I've become very fickle, trying new products soon after their introduction. Then disappointment sets in when I learn that the new kid on the block is missing some critical feature.
I have modest web conferencing needs. I typically use these products for training sessions rather than collaboration, so desktop and application sharing are my bread and butter. Not a problem, just about any web conferencing product offers those features. So what are my complaints?
Webex meetings are quick and easy to set up. I have a webconference room, and can pop in whenever I like. The participant and host password are always the same. And it's very easy to pass control of the conference from the host to any other participant. But I can't easily record the audio and video from our training sessions. Darn.
Placeware was bought by Microsoft, and was subsequently renamed Live Meeting. Funny thing...it seems to have become unnecessarily complex during the transition. That sure didn't take very long! :-) Just setting up the meeting is a challenge....what's the difference between an auditorium meeting place and a web meeting place? According to customer support, there really isn't any difference. So why do I have to choose!
On my last web conference I must have forgotten to specify that I wanted to record the session. At least I assume that was the problem since the record menu option was unavailable to me.....but why isn't the record option just there? Why does it have to be specified in advance? Do attendees always require a password? Apparently the answer is no, but it's not clear in the setup that you can leave that field blank. If I want to co-host the conference, then both presenters MUST log in as as presenters. You can't pass control on the fly as you can with WEBEX.
On the other hand, their ability to record straight from the interface, and seamlessly include the telephone conference call for the audio portion is relatively unusual in web conferencing, and the one feature that keeps me coming back.
I tried Macromedia's Breeze, which was flexible almost to a fault. How many different screen layouts do you really need? But because it uses Flash, which most computers already have, only the host needs to install software, which is a definite plus. Still, they don't offer a pay-as-you-go option, which is a deal-killer for me. I'm just not ready to commit.
The people who brought you GoToMypc.com have introduced GoToMeeting. I haven't tried it, but the price is quite reasonable, and it's sounds fairly straightforward. However, it requires the installation of an executable on the host and participant PC, which can be an issue in some organizations, and they don't offer the ability to record.
Is the perfect web conferencing tool always going to be just beyond my grasp? Can a girl be happy with more than one web conferencing product? Tune in next time....