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Interessante Konsequenzen, wenn das populaer wird...


PS: Und nein, ich meine nicht die "Ueberflutung des Internet, Film  
um 11".


 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  
in-process masterpieces.

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 portia@dreamit.com. Dream IT's Web site URL is  
http://www. dreamit.com/.

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Computer Resellers News
August 5, 1996
Issue 695