HD video and our top-ranking online meeting solutions

Citrix, Adobe and Cisco: Three of the biggest online meeting solutions vendors have now integrated video functionality into their solutions. We checked them out and here is what we found:

All three tools offer not only video but rather HD video. And yes, the quality is very impressive. Citrix GoToMeeting limits the number of webcam participants to 6 unlike Cisco WebEx which allows up to 500 participants or Adobe Connect 8 where you have no restrictions at all. But as always bigger isn’t necessarily better. One downside of a video conference with let us say 20 participants is that you will need a lot of bandwidth to really get that HD quality. And with every new participant that joins the webcams on display just get smaller and smaller. Now we haven’t tried it with 20 participants ourselves but it probably is hard to see who is actually speaking.
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Microsoft buys Skype – but what about Skype’s partnership with Citrix?

By now the commotion around Microsoft’s purchase of Skype has settled a bit and we can ask our standard question: What does this mean for the web conferencing market?

The overall perception of the acquisition is mixed. Some say that it was a brilliant move by Microsoft and it will give Microsoft a huge share of the online collaboration market. Others simply wonder why you would spend so much money for a service that overlaps to large extents with what you are already offering, e.g. with Windows Live Messenger.

We are wondering about a completely different aspect of this deal, which is very intriguing: A little while back it was announced that Skype would be teaming up with Citrix to integrate Citrix’ web conferencing technology into Skype. Now Citrix GoToMeeting is a direct rival of Microsoft’s own online Meeting solution, Microsoft Office Live Meeting.

Currently it is hard to say whether this is a recipe for disaster or for an outstanding web conferencing solution. Either way, we will keep you posted.

Netviewer removed from our ranking of web conferencing solutions

We mentioned a while back that Citrix was about to acquire Netviewer. Well, the plan was now put into action – and nobody was told. So what exactly happened?

Since today netviewer.com only features the Citrix products GoToMeeting and GoToAssist. That was to be expected eventually, but what is really surprising is the fact that we as test users didn’t receive communication of any kind on the transition. The least you could expect is a one-liner giving you a heads up.

Citrix and Netviewer officials gave us a statement today on how existing customers can continue to use the services. All current Netviewer customers can continue to utilize the online meeting solution without restrictions until their contract ends (2 years max).

The bottom line? The flow of information could have been a bit smoother. And since Netviewer is no longer available to new customers we have removed it from our ranking of online meeting solutions, where it was featured as number 2.

User-friendliness of web conferencing tools

As is clearly visible in our evaluations of online meeting solutions, user-friendliness weighs in heavily. And for good reason too, because if you want to present information online or have a virtual team-meeting you can’t waste time trying to figure out how to get a specific gadget to work. Meeting organizers and participants need easy-to-use software to operate quickly and smoothly.

User-friendliness does not mean – at least for us – hoarding functionalities in one tool. We favor the less-is-more approach to web conferencing. Packing loads of functionalities into one tool may make for a powerful software, but it takes time and effort to learn to operate it properly (e.g. WebEx). Splitting services into multiple tools with only a limited number of features gives the user an easy-to-use solution for his requirements (e.g. Citrix GoToMeeting, GoToWebinar, GoToAssist, GoToMyPC, and GoToTraining)

More details on our criteria for evaluation can be found on our homepage.