Monday, February 11, 2008

Microsoft LiveMeeting

Microsoft LiveMeeting

Part of the Microsft Office Online Movement

Take a product tour and sign-up for demo:


See the demo - live demonstration opportunity for Microsoft's LiveMeeting Conferencing and collaboration software.


I had the opportunity to see Microsoft's LiveMeeting in action while working on a service call for one of my clients. The client was having some trouble with their document imaging application for which they had tech support from the vendor. The vendor had a contract for support and whilst they were many states away, they were able to remote into the computer and gain access to the server and the application both server side and client.

Although remote desktop support is not a strange phenomenon to me. I've heard of Microsoft's program desktop remote support (I believe the result of a purchase of another company). I also heard it's main focus was on conferencing and collaboration. I'm a fan, a critical one at times, of Microsoft's products and believe that their product once I saw it would live up to the expectations of expectant Microsoft touch or flavor as they've done with other products they've acquired through purchases.

Microsoft's LiveMeeting was phenomenal. The program for conferencing looked as if it would be a great asset to any company that was looking to host online meetings and collaboration efforts. It was well laid out in appearance and functionality, although I did not look at the conferencing features because the goal at the time was to solve the problem with the application the tech support group was working on. I did have an opportunity to explorer the menu options. I did see the important key elements for conferencing and collaboration. The layout of the application can make a huge difference for users who may not be that experienced in the desktop and online meetings. The result of my quick review was that Microsoft's LiveMeeting was a strong product in the area of online meetings.

Where I did get a little more exposure was in the area of online tech support. Although not touted and support software, the ability to provide desktop remote support was easily apparent. Like many other programs of it kind, there was the choice of allowing the viewing of a applications that were displayed on the desktop or for the entire desktop. As many computer desktop remote support programs do, a full view and control of the computer desktop was the optimum choice in this case. The need to have the technician be able to roam very freely to get to system that were related to the remote support session at hand. As computer remote support software, LiveMeeting had a good quality about it. It was fast it was reliable and provided the ability to apply tech support to customers or clients through the web for web based desktop remote support.

It just so happened that during another support call to this same customer, there was a need to get tech support from the same vendor but this time it was a problem on the desktop client side of their application. The client software would not install and the problem was isolated to this particular desktop which was dell desktop. Although I believed their was a problem on this computer itself, and having tech support remote into it to try and run the install that although a very fat installation that takes a lot of time, usually completed without problems. The computer was having issues but the company's tech support person wanted to call not believing the problem was on the desktop and not the installer application. So we called tech support again. I was looking forward to seeing the desktop support software from Microsoft in action once again. This time the LiveMeeting software was unable to load. Just as the client application software that they were trying to remoter into the desktop to fix was not installing, neither was the application that was intended as desktop remote support was not installing. This is where I believe Microsoft could make a difference with their product to improve it.

The software relies on the windows installer service to get started. If there is a problem with the installer service or with the computer itself that's either corrupting files or not allowing them to start on desktop properly, the program will not start as conferencing, collaboration or as computer remote support software. Microsoft needs to develop a backup method for the software to start a session with the remote client. Java would be the best option. I've seen webex use this and gotoassist. Perhaps because of the settlement with Sun, they no longer look to build applications that require a virtual machine as a component. Activex is another option for them to code as a backup method to connect clients to session but although it may have been in there it wasn't starting for me on this particular computer desktop. We did find a way around this problem to continue the tech support session via remote desktop support. If Microsoft is going to push their product as a computer remote support software package, then they'll need to address this issue and perhaps not rely sole on the windows installer to run initialize and start the program. Computer remote support software needs to not be wroapped around so tightly as to require too many things to be not only presetn o nthe remote desktop for support but needn't be there at all. For computer remote support software, just getting the program to execute and connect and keeping the method as basic is a better choice of direction.
Please see a prior related post regarding support software:

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