WebEx Meetings: Seasonable scope of functionalities with similar look & feel

WebEx Meetings is Cisco’s new online collaboration tool and will eventually come to replace the current WebEx Meeting Center. The introduction to the market happened without great ado which is a bit strange since the software has a lot to offer. So what is new about WebEx Meetings?

The new WebEx Meetings enables hosts to upload documents to “Meeting Spaces”. These documents are placed in a meeting room and kept there persistently. So the tool offers a simple form of document management akin to SharePoint which includes file versioning, locking and granting detailed permissions.

With WebEx Meetings Cisco also introduces a central user database which will offer business customers a more granular permission system. With the former Webex Meeting Center companies were only able to set user permissions for meetings hosted by one of the users in the company domain. The same user potentially could have shared more than allowed by their privacy policy when invited to a meeting by another party. The new central database for WebEx Meetings will recognize policy settings across user accounts of different organizations to prevent this from happening. This also enables regulars to upload an avatar to be linked to their user profile. And since WebEx acknowledges the “Safe Harbor” data security agreement, European WebEx customers do not need to worry about their user information.

So while WebEx Meetings offers a significant plus functionality-wise the new software pretty much has the same look and feel as it's forerunner Meeting Center. This actually is good and bad: Good, because Webex Meeting Center customers will easily be able to make the transition to the new software. Bad, because the user interface never really was the most intuitive to use and has always cost Cisco points in our evaluation.

Cisco will not be pulling the plug on Webex Meeting Center too soon, as there appear to be at least two more release cycles planned. So Meeting Center and the new WebEx Meetings will co-exist for a while. Nevertheless, since Meeting Center is no longer actively promoted on the web and can't be tested through a self-service trial account, we removed it from our ranking of online meeting tools and now feature the new WebEx Meetings Premium instead, which instantly made it to number four in our ranking. The cost-free alternative WebEx Meetings Basic even makes it to second place in our Top 10 Free Web Conferencing Tools.

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