People can do a lot of things with the Internet these days, and it’s really amazing. Not only can you send messages, shop online, and connect with friends, but with the Internet you can do your work and conduct businesses in the comfort of your own homes – or anywhere in fact. Now you can hold business meetings and conferences even with people who live miles away, as long you’ve got an Internet connection and the right software, services and apps.
What is a web conference?
So for those who don’t know yet or haven’t been in a web conference, it is a form of real-time communication where all users, either on their computers, laptops or mobile devices – are all connected to the Internet. They see each other through their own screens at the same time through their own Web browsers.
Almost all web conferencing software has standard features such as instant messaging, screenshot/desktop sharing, voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) as well as other typical features such as slideshow presentations, whiteboards, live video streaming – it’s almost like the real-life conference meeting, only you and your business partners aren’t in the same room.
Of course, web conferencing also requires you to have the right accessories such as a headset or a separate mic and headphones, as well as a functioning webcam. Many laptops have built-in webcams as well.
Different web-hosting services
So in choosing what’s the right web conferencing services for you, we’ve listed some of the best services to help you compare and narrow down your options:
Developed by Citrix Systems’ Online Services division, it is one of the most recommended web-hosting services out there. It supports desktop sharing, video conferencing, and instant/voice messaging, drawing tools, and other features, with the other users in real time. It hosts up to 15 users, and one organizer (presenter). It also has GoToMeeting Corporate which hosts up to 25 persons and allows several persons to act as organizers.
Clients can be secure with GoToMeeting, as meetings will be protected with encryption (protecting the data in real time) and optional passwords for each member. GoToMeeting is not a free service, but it does have a 30-day trial. It also allows clients to switch presenters, and has extra features such as polls. Users praise GoToMeeting for its user-friendly, smooth operation while having customers’ webinars from start to finish without ever encountering any bugs. If they want to have full features a monthly fee must be required. GoToMeeting (mobile) is now available for any iOS and Android devices as well.
Founded in 1996, it was eventually purchased by Cisco in 2007. As it’s developed by a reputable company that specializes in networking equipment, you can expect top quality in WebEx. It has full features that give you the optimum and unlimited online meetings. Ever reliable and almost always flawless, Webex gives clients high quality video/phone conferencing. It’s also available for mobile devices which is ideal for hosting and attending meetings while people are on the go. It’s user-friendly, and installation is also a breeze. This is recommended for all forms of enterprises, from small-to-medium businesses to the largest corporations. Webex has a 14-day trial, and after the trial expires clients are expected to fish out a monthly fee if they’re going to use its full features.
Developed in Mannheim, Germany, Mikogo is a desktop sharing software program for web conferencing. Just like any other web conferencing services, Mikogo offers almost every great feature a top-quality web conferencing tool should – desktop sharing, instant messaging, presenter switching, voice and video conferencing, whiteboard annotation, and the like. Mikogo is unique in that it has an HTML viewer, which allows every registered user to attend meetings on any device that supports a web browser. It’s downloadable for both Windows and Mac, and has also released apps for iOS and Android devices. Mikogo offers packages from the most basic to the most full-featured that will cater to the clients’ specific budget.
For those who want a relatively straightforward web conferencing experience, then Join.me is the service you should use. It combines instant desktop sharing as well as capable meeting tools that are completely user-friendly, thus anyone can use Join.me. Join.me’s free 14-day trial version has most basic features such as screen sharing, voice and instant messaging, calling, file-sharing and many others. It also hosts up to 10 participants, including the presenter. If you signed up for its pro version, you can avail yourself of all the basic features plus other tools such as recording, annotation, meeting lock, window sharing, meeting scheduler, etc. The Join.me Pro version allows you to choose two modes of payment: monthly, where you’re going to shell out $19; and yearly, where you can get 30% discount. It’s also available for iOS and Android.
Fuze is another great virtual meeting tool; it’s one of the newcomers in this field, developed by FuzeBox. Fuze has been piling up praises for its stellar features that are even incomparable. It can be downloaded on Windows, Mac and Linux, and its interface has one of the most professional-looking displays ever seen yet.
One of Fuze’s biggest strengths is that it allows you to host meetings, letting you upload and send your PowerPoint presentations, share videos and pictures, and any other content that can be also saved on the Fuze archives. This is one aspect that is lacking in many web conferencing services. Its sharing tools, and pretty much every part of Fuze, actually – is extremely user-friendly. It also provides security for every meeting, as they are protected by high-security encryption and data transmissions can be passed through most types of firewalls. Meetings (and even meeting replays) are password-protected.
However, one of the most notorious faults of Fuze is that the quality of the service is dependent on your bandwidth. If you attend a meeting using this service and have a limited bandwidth, you may experience problems such as delays in communication and blurry videos. Another drawback is its price is a bit too steep, compared to other services. Overall, though, Fuze is a fantastic service.
6. Zoho Meeting
Developed by Zoho (which is known for its online office tools), Zoho Meeting is a free Web-based virtual meeting service. One great thing about Zoho (as with its other applications) is that you don’t need to download and install software, but you do have to sign up for an account. It has free and pro versions – for the free version, meetings are limited to an hour, and it supports basic features such as desktop sharing, multi-platform support (for Windows, Mac and Linux), chat, audio conferencing, and desktop plugin.
Their pro version’s rates vary, depending on the package, so that you can make better decisions on purchasing their plans especially if you’re on a budget. The pro version has extra helpful features such as unlimited meeting time, switch presenter, session reports, embed meeting, and many others. Despite its accessibility to various platforms, only Microsoft Windows is allowed to be used by the creator of the meeting; the attendees, on the other hand, can use any operating system in their computers or laptops. It also has voice conferencing capabilities using your phone or VoIP.
Business persons who are on the lookout for a free, great web conferencing service need look no further. Vyew has many plus points: like Zoho, it’s a web-based web conferencing tool but unlike Zoho, Vyew is absolutely free, for good – all you have to do is to sign up.
Despite the fact that it’s free and web-based, that doesn’t mean that it scrimps on the features. In fact, Vyew has one of the most feature-rich services, as far as free web-based meeting tools are concerned. It not only supports web conferencing but also video conferencing, and also supports real-time screen sharing, whiteboard annotation and drawing tools, voice conferencing (through VoIP), chat, voice “sticky” notes, plug-ins, and many more. Your meetings are also secured as all your personal information is encrypted, and data transmission is passed through firewalls, keeping your meetings as confidential as they should be.
One major drawback though, is that it’s not as user-friendly as all the other web conferencing services. It takes some time before you’ll get acquainted with how Vyew works, especially if you’re new to web conferencing. Although this is basically a free service, you also have the option to add the feature packages for a fee – but at least their rates are a lot cheaper than GoToMeeting’s.
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- Web conferencing – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia