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- Subject: NetMeetings
- From: Kristian Köhntopp <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- Date: Sun, 4 Aug 96 13:32:49 +0200
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Interessante Konsequenzen, wenn das populaer wird...
PS: Und nein, ich meine nicht die "Ueberflutung des Internet, Film
REVIEWS & OPINION
By Portia Isaacson
It's Not Just A Telephone Call:
NetMeeting Unites Internet Strangers
NetMeeting is the best news I've heard this year. It's fun. It's
useful. And it is going to save me a bundle of money. Amazing for a
program that is only in Beta 2 of Release 1.0.
Microsoft Corp. has been working on NetMeeting for two years with
the goal to transform the telephone call into a richer experience.
According to Charles Fitzgerald, Microsoft's program manager in the
Platform and Tools Division responsible for NetMeeting, the product
is likely to be released in August. It will be available to download
from the Web and for retail distribution as a part of the Internet
Explorer suite of applications.
Microsoft leveraged its low-level operating system capability to
build application sharing with amazing performance. NetMeeting will
operate on about any network environment, including a point-to-point
telephone call, but its focal point will be the Internet. The NT
version will be available by the end of the year. The Mac version
will be available in 1997.
You can expect to see NetMeeting on new Windows 95 PCs shipped this
fall. You can also expect substantial compatibility with hundreds
of other personal conferencing and personal conferencing related
products (e.g., Intel's ProShare). Scores of conferencing products
(120 were announced by Microsoft a few months ago), share a common
set of standards in T.120 for multipoint data conferencing and
H.323, the just-ratified family of standards for multiplexing voice,
data, and video on non-deterministic packet networks (the
Internet). Microsoft NetMeeting also will be shipped in the products
from other conferencing vendors later this year so there will be a
lot of folks to netmeet with.
Perhaps I can capture your imagination with a few examples.
Consider a professional running a small business. Call her Mo.
Now, Mo might be a consultant or a graphics artist or a lawyer. She
has clients all over a large metropolitan area, some out of town
and a few in other countries. Mo is very familiar with the old "call
me when you get my fax and we'll go over the draft" process. If
color is important, then reviews with local clients must wait for a
local messenger service or an assistant to deliver the draft.
Out-of-town clients must wait for an overnight courier. When time is
money, even the best courier services can be a nuisance.
Even in-house faxing services at large companies can take what
seems like eons of waiting until the call with fax in hand finally
comes. And when Mo travels, she is often desperate to get a fax from
her office to review, revise and upload so she can take the
presentation to her client. Equip both parties with NetMeeting and
the scenario dramatically improves.
NetMeeting enables application sharing. The voice connection can be
through NetMeeting or via a separate phone call for really good
simultaneous audio. In the Net scenarios, there is no need for a fax
or delivery service. Both you and your client can look at and
operate the same application. Edit a Word contract. Review a
PowerPoint presentation. Edit a FreeHand drawing. Futz with a Visio
flow diagram. Play 'what if?' with an Excel budget spreadsheet. Look
up data in a corporate or CD-ROM database. Look for info on the
Web. Look at the same screens. See the same colors. End the meeting
with a revised document or with penciled annotations on images of
documents that were clipped to the whiteboard for markup. You could
even sign a contract.
Consider software product support. The person needing help connects
to support via NetMeeting. The support engineer can see exactly
what is happening and even operate the problem application. Much
better than blind telephone help with no hands. Simple and
inexpensive in concept; however, some brilliant developer needs to
develop NetMeeting call-queuing and billing software before robust
help services can be offered this way.
As a closet software developer, I look forward to asking my
compadres elsewhere to listen and look at walkthroughs of my
And, how about catalog sales? A person makes a netmeeting call to
order a PC widget. I'm sure there are a lot of people who can't find
their catalog or don't want to spend the time looking it up. On a
netmeeting, the salesperson could listen, turn to the on-screen
catalog and display the suggested item. The customer could key in
his or her vitals and approve the purchase.
Big companies may have to wait to take advantage. Firewall and
standards problems I understand. Oh well, you can use netmeeting
with co-workers on intranets. And just as you have your own
clandestine fax machine with its dedicated telephone line so you
don't have to wait for internal fax distribution, you can get your
own direct Internet account via a dedicated telephone line. You,
too, can have a big sleek pipe to the Net without being put through
the backroads, dams and firewalls of complex, internal, proprietary
networks burdened with armor locked in by enterprise applications
from the pre-Net ages. Even Microsoft is still locked inside its
firewall, which doesn't support T.120 and H.323 yet. If none of
these applications turn you on, how about multiplayer games?
Microsoft counts on the fact that most new PCs have sound and many
have inexpensive Internet connections. Nothing else is needed,
although a pen is useful for writing and drawing on the whiteboard,
as are annotation screens of applications pasted to the whiteboard.
Microsoft's Fitzgerald says to expect rapid-fire releases of
NetMeeting. Features for NetMeeting 2, due next year, include
application-sharing with acetate layer pen annotation,
software-based video and RSVP support.
I installed NetMeeting on three desktop Windows 95 PCs on my
in-house Microsoft LAN connected through an Ascend Pipeline 50
gateway via a dedicated 2-channel ISDN line to my Internet access
provider, USA.NET. Two desktops had sound (e.g., SoundBlaster with
speakers and microphone). Two had pen tablets (CIC's Handwriter). My
Fujitsu Stylistic 1000 pen computer and my NEC Versa notebook with
sound were occasionally connected via a TDK V.34 Global Class PC
Card modem dial-up to the Internet.
I netmet with myself; with my helper, Mary; and with several
clients. I made notes and sketches on the whiteboard using the pen
tablets and the Fujitsu Stylistic 1000. I did text chats. I did
PowerPoint with voice presentations.
We then scribbled on the shared whiteboard. After that, we edited a
Word document. We transferred files.
But the most fun was talking with random folks on Microsoft's "User
Listing Service." My experiences with random netmeetings were all
over the map in more ways than one. The topper was Guy in Australia.
Guy's comments field in his ULS entry indicated he was conducting a
Windows 95 class, and his country field and E-mail address
indicated he was located in Australia. I placed a netmeet request
expecting full well to be told that he was not taking calls, but lo,
he responded, and when our voice connection was established, I
agreed to help demonstrate NetMeeting to his class.
First, we demonstrated the audio connection by describing our
connections to the Internet. He was connected with a 28.8 kbps
modem. I was connected with ISDN. We were both half-duplex audio, so
we could not speak and listen at the same time. I had more trouble
understanding his accent than his audio.
We were both amazed at the quality with just a 28.8 on his side. We
demonstrated the textchat capability by typing a few things back
and forth. He opened WordPad, put it in Share and Collaborate modes,
typed in a line, and asked me to edit it. I edited it and typed
some stuff of my own. Then much to Guy's surprise, I selected "save"
from the File menu and proceeded to explore Guy's hard drive. I
told him and his class that this demonstrated that if you do
application sharing, it had better be with someone you know and
trust because it is easy to let them get access to your computer.
In fact, before we got out of application sharing, I somehow was
poking around in his control panel when I thought I was looking at
mine. I may not fully remember this part of the demo, but Guy will.
I told Guy I was testing NetMeeting for my CRN column. He asked if
my columns were available on the Web. I explained that they were
available on CRN 's Web site as well as on my own. He then started
his Internet Explorer and pointed it at my Web site.
This netmeeting, which I initiated, cost me nothing over and above
the dedicated ISDN Internet pipe required by my Web server. And no
cost of software over and above the cost of Microsoft Internet
Explorer. And no cost of hardware over and above my PC's sound
capabilities and my LAN through which I borrow bandwidth from my Web
I wrote this article while application sharing with another
computer and sometimes two others. The watching computers could have
been anywhere in the world. This brings up some interesting ideas.
I hope my clients don't think of watching me as I work on drafts of
their documents. But if they do, I'll cooperate if they will and put
a dispenser in my office that spits out dollar bills as each key
stroke, mouse click or pen scribble appears on their screen.
PORTIA ISAACSON is president of Dream IT, Inc., a Boulder, Colorado
based consultancy that consults on emerging technologies and
markets. Dream IT assists its clients in opportunity analysis,
competitive analysis, product planning and product marketing. She
can be reached by telephone at (303) 417-9313 or electronically via
the Internet at firstname.lastname@example.org. Dream IT's Web site URL is
Return to list of columnists
Computer Resellers News
August 5, 1996