Office Live Meeting

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There’s now a new version of Microsoft’s hosted collaboration tool called Live Meeting. This isn’t software that you buy, rather it’s a service that is hosted by Microsoft that lets you run virtual meetings across the Internet.

There’s now a new version of Microsoft’s hosted collaboration tool called Live Meeting. This isn’t software that you buy, rather it’s a service that is hosted by Microsoft that lets you run virtual meetings across the Internet.

The meetings can be structured presentations or a more informal gathering from across the country or even across the world.

At its core all you need is a net-connected computer with a browser and then you can use Live Meeting. Naturally there’s additional features that only work or work best when you’re connected to Microsoft Office. Most likely Office 2003.

An example of that linkage is the “Live Meeting 4.x/2003 Add-In for Microsoft Outlook and Microsoft Windows Messenger” which will let you schedule and check availability for a live meeting session. Details here.

Live Meeting is a product that was bought by Microsoft, and the web link for much of the product still betrays that heritage. http://main.placeware.com/

The 2005 release is a sensible progression with lots of new features, that make the whole virtual meeting process more accessible with less of a technical hurdle. Most notable is the new ‘Meeting Lobby’, a waiting room of sorts for people to be held in while waiting for access to the meeting.

There’s a Powerpoint viewer, document viewer and application sharing. With the latter, different participants can control a demonstrated application. There’s better interactive tools like a ‘mood indicator’ and real-time polls. I sometimes think that the equivalent of the train driver’s deadman handle would be a good idea – make participants hit a button every minute or so to make sure they are still there and awake!

VOIP support from various companies is supplied with a ‘broadcast’ option to stream audio one-way directly to listeners. At last, meetings can be recorded easily for later replay – very handy for businesses across many time zones.

There’s hooks into Office 2003 programs to make it easier to start a quick meeting as the need arises.

Live Meeting 2005 is a web based service but for very large companies there’s the option to buy the software and host it on their own servers.

Pricing details for the web service are deep down on the MS website.

 


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