By Michael Caton  |  Posted 2005-04-25 Print this article Print

Most of the refinements to WebExs service are focused primarily on simplifying the UI and providing a more consistent experience across the four other WebEx offerings: Sales Center, Training Center, Event Center and Support Center.

The big additions in this version are numerous shortcuts integrated throughout the meeting console. For example, when we launched a meeting, we were presented with the QuickStart page, a task-oriented list of three activities that a presenter will likely want to perform. These include presenting a document, sharing an application or sharing the desktop. In addition, we could start any activity using hot keys.

WebEx has also added a floating icon tray that allows presenters to have one-click access to common components, such as application sharing, while presenting in full-screen mode.

The features that make WebEx interactive—the audience, chat, video, Q&A and Notes panes—have been decoupled from the basic interface in a feature called PowerPanel. Any one of these components can now be disabled or used independently of the main content view in a way similar to Macromedia Inc.s Breeze Web conferencing application.

The PowerPanel provides a better view of content and offers more control over attendees experience. For example, when viewing a meeting at a higher resolution than that of the presenter, we could float these elements into the unused screen space on the attendee system. We could easily disable elements such as the chat interface or float the Q&A interface while presenting slides in full-screen mode.

We liked some of the new visual cues associated with the elements as well. When a participant started chatting or an attendee dropped off a conference, as presenter we were alerted via a flashing button in the PowerPanel and floating icon tray.

On the management side, WebEx has fine-tuned some of the management tools to tie in with the new features, including the ability to disable the QuickStart panel.

Click here to read a review of Microsoft Live Meeting 2005. Next page: Evaluation Shortlist: Related Products.


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