Web conferencing booms due to flight restrictions – 58 percent more sessions than usual

The math is easy: With the decrease in air traffic, the traffic on the web conferencing vendors’ servers increases. We checked back with the providers of online collaboration software and got numbers from Adobe, BeamYourScreen, Citrix, Digitalmeeting, and Spreed. These vendors recorded an average increase of 58 percent in sessions held last Friday, in comparison to regular workdays.

Some providers are currently offering special rates due to the chaos. So you might want to check those out when searching for a way to avoid getting stuck at the airport on the way to a meeting…

Information on third-party suppliers

We have now included information on OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturers) service providers in our ranking, so that you have an overview of who offers a specific web conferencing solution next to the original vendor. Our motive behind this is simple: We want to make the web conferencing market as transparent as possible, and one key feature of transparency is to see who is connected to whom in what way.

And yes – you guessed it – our overview is far from being complete. Our powers are limited and we have to find our way through all the offers and vendors out there to come upon connections that are not always visible at first glance. That is why we are glad for every hint you can give us.

Now what exactly do the third-party suppliers offer? In most cases you will find that the offered solution is an older version of a specific web conferencing solution or a version with limited functionality. And the point of using such a partner version of an online conferencing tool is …? Well, lets just say you are a customer of a telecommunications provider listed in our ranking. Then you can simply integrate the offered web conferencing package into your already existing service bundle with the vendor in question.

You can find all the current affiliate information here. Just click on the “Partners” links on the right-hand side.

Video conference or web conferencing?

Due to Eyjafallajökull’s activity, air traffic throughout Europe will continue to face restrictions. And even if planes are allowed to fly again throughout Europe by tomorrow, there will very likely be delays for the rest of the week.

In various media it has been stated that business travelers, companies, and even governments are looking into video conferencing technologies to keep things running. While video conferencing certainly is an option to create a meeting-like situation – in that you can see whom you are talking to – web conferencing gives business travelers additional options to successfully conduct business meetings when on the road.

Web conferencing tools allow participants to quickly set up meetings and then share documents, show presentations, chat and have an audio conference at the same time.

In our evaluation of online meeting solutions we present a number of tools and give you information on functionalities, user friendliness, and cost. So if you are looking for a way to have a meeting while you are waiting at the airport – or to prevent you from having to fly altogether – and feel you need a different set of functionalities than provided by video conferencing, you will very likely find a fitting tool in our evaluation of online collaboration software.

Stranded in Europe and scheduled for a meeting? – Just take the meeting online with web conferencing

Business travellers will have to be very patient this weekend. Flights will be cancelled at least until Saturday morning and even then no one seems to know when the situation will normalize itself. The volcano is still active...

The bright side of this chaos: If you have a meeting scheduled you do not have to miss out on it and perhaps let a good opportunity go. Simply invite your contacts to a web conference and make sure that your business does not suffer due to the situation. Check out our evaluation of  online collaboration tools and find the solution that suits your meeting requirements best.

Good look with your further travel plans - and your online meetings.

Why we kept Microsoft NetMeeting in our ranking

Microsoft NetMeeting is by far the oldest product we feature in our ranking: It was originally distributed together with Windows 95. NetMeeting also is the only web conferencing solution in our ranking that is not being further developed and for which there is no support.

We still tested it and included it in our overview for various good reasons. For many business-users “web conferences” and “NetMeeting” are synonymous, which shows what natural and exclusive usage this simple Microsoft tool continues to get – for internal online meetings that is. And NetMeeting’s time is nowhere near to being over.

A manager of one of the leading Cisco distributors recently gave us an interesting insight into how collaboration tools are actually being used. For “big” online meetings connecting multiple locations, personnel reserve meeting rooms in which they gather for the meeting and make use of the pre-installed video conferencing solution Cisco Telepresence. Since for every instance a large internal cost is accrued this solution is not the most popular. This is also due to the fact that staff must prove that using this solution leads to less travel cost. For the occasional online conference with external attendees, distributors most regularly use Cisco WebEx Meeting Center. For internal virtual gatherings regarding daily business the number-one solution is NetMeeting – for the simple reason that “NetMeetings” are easy to start.

So if even organizations that have the most up-to-date web conferencing tools in place still make use of good old NetMeeting that means for us:

NetMeeting obviously is far outdated, which means that usually we wouldn’t consider it for evaluation. But since millions of business-users are not aware of any solution other than NetMeeting, we want to at least show the difference between this early software and the current, far superior solutions for web conferencing.

We are done – or are we?

Our tool-reviews for InstantPresenter and MegaMeeting are the last in our list of now altogether 31 evaluations. We currently are not planning to include any further tools. Now, does that mean that we have actually given you a comprehensive overview of the online meeting market? Well, yes and no.

The market for online conferencing solutions is a very dynamic one with new vendors popping up constantly and existing solutions being expanded, upgraded, or bought and integrated into other solutions. So an overview of this market can never be all-including. What also makes our life as evaluators difficult is the fact that there really hardly are clear distinctions between the web conferencing market and solutions for remote support, webinars, video conferencing, and e-learning to name just a few.

Yet, if we look at what we define as web conferencing solutions for professional usage with focus on desktop sharing functionality, we can say that our list of tools gives you exhaustive coverage of all tools worthy of notice. More precisely: There are no further tools out there with realistic chances of making it into our top 15. That is why we deliberately will forbear from further detailed testing and rather concentrate our efforts on keeping the information on our site up to date.

We have a backlist of web conferencing tools that we have scanned briefly and decided not to test extensively. Tools on that list are e.g. CrossLoop, GatherPlace, WiredRed, WebMeetLive, Voxwire, Yuuguu, NTRmeeting, and almost Meet. As our brief tests have shown, these tools are in need of further improvement before we can consider them for extensive testing.

And that means we actually are done – for now. If you are looking for a good online conferencing solution you can be assured that our ranking represents the best tools that are available at the moment.

Well ok, we are not perfect. So if we should have missed a solution for web conferencing by some odd chance let us know. We will check it out.