December 01, 2003

NetMeeting to be Phased Out

PCWorld reports that MS is retiring NetMeeting. For online meetings, MS will be offering Office Live Meeting, formerly known as PlaceWare.

I had the opportunity to speak with one of PlaceWare's tech people before MS acquired them -- and there is a very good reason that MS acquired them instead of Webex. Having used NetMeeting, PlaceWare, and Webex, I can safely say that PlaceWare was the most firewall-friendly of the three in my experience. Even if all other ports were blocked, it had the ability to run through port 80, the common HTTP or web access port that nearly every firewall has open. This makes it business-friendly.

I've attended many webinars, and never had a problem with PlaceWare-hosted sessions, which is saying something. Webex, on the other hand, was pretty much Russian Roulette. NetMeeting was doable as long as you had tech-savvy people on both ends, and it was free, but still clunky at times depending on the network obstacles.

So while I hate to see good, innovative companies acquired by Microsoft, with any luck this could be a good thing, as MS has the resources to make it more successful and integrate it into the rest of their offerings. Naturally, if one uses a browser other than Internet Explorer, it's prudent to be concerned that MS controls the development of both IE and Office Live Meeting. Particularly since MS has a proclivity to invent their own web standards at times.

However, if the integration makes Office Live Meeting even easier to use by non-techie business people, then I'd say that's progress, regardless of how it got there.

Topic(s):   Web Wizardry
Posted by Jeff Beard