Most people in business in this century can't get by without web conferencing; from webinars to meetings with vendors, business partners, and co-workers across the globe, a good conferencing solution is a must for modern businesses. Unfortunately, many conferencing solutions require an application to be downloaded and installed on the client machine in order to participate.
In this edition of Five Apps, I take a look at five web-based conferencing apps which can be used without a full client-side installation and some that require no installation at all.
For additional screenshots of these apps, check out the accompanying TechRepublic Photo Gallery.
MegaMeeting is a cross browser and platform system that allows for one-on-one video chat, multi-party video conferencing, and webinars all within a browser-based app for Windows, Mac, and Linux. The app requires only Adobe Flash on these platforms. In addition, MegaMeeting offers iOS and Android apps for connectivity from mobile devices. Attendees are limited by seats purchased. There do not appear to be any free versions; MegaMeeting advertises that their services are as low as $39 per month. Video conferencing is limited to 16 streams but can have hundreds of viewer (no limit was specified).
AnyMeeting is a Java-based meeting space that supports up to 200 attendees. The basic, free version is ad-supported and is limited on the features offered. Paid versions remove the ads and add additional features. AnyMeeting is PC and Mac compatible, but I would imagine Linux gurus can get it to work there as well. Video conferencing is limited to six streams. AnyMeeting has all of the standard features of a web conferencing app plus some additional ones like polling and a status indicator interestingly labeled "My Mood." This app even offers an integrated "ticket sales" module so you can charge admission to your webinars.
3: Adobe Connect
Adobe Connect is, of course, an Adobe Flash-based conferencing solution when used in Windows and Mac OS but is also available as an app for iOS, Android, and Blackberry Playbook. Unlike the other offerings, video streams are limited only by available bandwidth. Adobe Connect even integrates with SIP/H.264 compatible devices to enrich the conference experience. This app is the only one in this list to offer on-site servers, keeping all conference traffic within your corporate environment. Pricing information appears to be tightly controlled by Adobe sales staff. Adobe has a similar free offering, Adobe ConnectNow, a part of Acrobat.com, which is limited to one-on-one communication but is also upgradable to additional attendees.
4: Cisco WebEx
Cisco WebEx, easily the most well-known of the apps on this list, is also a Java-based conferencing solution. Also available are mobile apps for iOS, Android, and Blackberry. Like the others, it offers all of the standard conferencing features within the free version and additional features if you upgrade. The free version is limited to three participants; upgrades to 8 or 25 people per meeting are available. Like Adobe Connect, WebEx also has Enterprise options for up to 500 people but they do not appear to offer on-site services.
Our final selection, ooVoo, is technically a fat-client system, but it does have a "Web Call" feature which allows you to invite up to 12 participants in a video chat for free. For the Web Call, users only need Java and an ooVoo account to get started. Like many others, ooVoo offers iOS and Android apps and the fat-client works on Windows and Mac. ooVoo also offers Widgets for various social networking sites as well as personal web pages and allows you to save your video chats as YouTube videos for later viewing and sharing. Using the fat-client, and getting a Premium subscription, the host can share their screen. The Premium subscription also removes ads.
What web-based conferencing solution have you used? Share your recommendations with fellow TechRepublic members.