Observations from where technology meets business


"Tahiti" web conferencing, this is cool

Interesting move by Microsoft to provide free web conferencing hosted on their Windows Live platform. This is something I thought Google should have been providing all along but, for some reason, don't seem interested in doing so. I haven't played with Tahiti yet but reading through the online documentation reveals many familiar features.

In my opinion, application screen sharing is the heart of interactive digital collaboration. Forget about video conferencing, most situations don't require it and it just gets in the way.

With Tahiti you and a handful of colleagues can work together in real-time by manipulating and viewing the same computer screen. Imagine your small team (maybe it is just two of you) sitting at their desks anywhere in the world working with the same application; even passing control of the mouse and keyboard around.

A really cool feature Tahiti looks to provide is remote copy/paste. So instead of your partner emailing a spreadsheet to you and talking you through transferring that complex formula she developed, you pass control of Excel running on your computer to her. Once her keyboard and mouse is controlling your instance of Excel running on your computer she can copy (as in Edit/Copy) the formula from a version of Excel running on her computer and then paste it into the Excel spreadsheet she is now controlling on your computer. Viola, your spreadsheet is updated.

In many cases I think working together this way is more effective than meeting in person. Everyone gets their own keyboard, their own mouse, and their own screen to comfortably view. Actually, I have been in many situations where a small team, crashing on a hot assignment and cloistered in a conference room, fire up NetMeeting to actively exchange information while working on a document, even though they are in the same room.

Of course, you will need a voice connection along with Tahiti but cell calls are cheap these days and there is always Skype.

In my opinion, this could mainstream web conferencing better than Webex could ever have hoped. The limit of fifteen users per session is very reasonable. Its been my experience that almost all of these type of conferences involve 3 or less participants. This is further proof that WebEx's timing was perfect again.

Microsoft today launched a free screen sharing software for Windows XP and Vista users. The software ("Tahiti") can also be used for providing remote tech support or co-authoring presentations and documents with far-away colleagues. [If you need a Tahiti invite, drop in a comment.] The workflow is simple - download and install the Tahiti software (~2.5 MB), login with your Windows Live ID and you are ready to share your entire desktop, web browser or any program application with the world.

The desktop screen can be simultaneously shared with upto 15 people at a time and the person sharing can give control to anyone else who's also part of the screen sharing session. And each participant has a personalized mouse pointer to point out specific items or highlight an area of shared screen.

Source: Microsoft Screen Sharing Software - Simple, Yet Powerful at Digital Inspiration
Via: Collaborative Thinking

What did Cisco Buy?

Last week BusinessWeek's Rob Hof asked "What Did Cisco's $3.2 Billion for WebEx Buy?"

Rob's choices were:


1) A channel for its cool telepresence system, according to Sean Ness.

2) A pig in a poke, opines Mike Arrington and a number of commenters on his post. They figure WebEx is too heavy compared to a number of up-and-coming Web conferencing services, and doesn't work as well on different platforms.

3) The future of collaboration, according to Om Malik, who points out, "Shared workspaces, email and even office type apps are part of WebEx’s extended offerings." And WebEx has 2 million customers already.

4) Sex appeal, says Valleywag. Huh? Only in the Valley, I guess.

I just posted a blog on Collaboration Loop about the deal. My view is closer to Arrington's, but for different reasons.

Update: My Collaboration Loop posts have been moved over to the Enterprise 2.0 Blog. The link above has been changed to point to the new location.

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