I got an email today from MeetingBridge announcing an upgrade to their web conferencing software. The email was a pretty long and detailed list of new and changed features. Kind of like publishing your release notes as a marketing communique! If you would like to view the full letter, they made it available online at this link.
To summarize their summary (always dangerous):
1) Application Sharing requires an ActiveX installation.
This is a common requirement for many of the web conferencing vendors, but I don't wonder if it builds part of the mistrust of such software among novice users. People have been trained to avoid doing any prompted installations through the web for fear of viruses, and ActiveX has a particularly bad rep for the paranoid, since they get warnings all the time from email and web security programs with filters to prevent ActiveX controls from running. There is nothing inherently wrong with using ActiveX and you shouldn't be scared to install it when it's from a real commercial, verified company. Unfortunately its power has been misused by miscreants.
2) You can quickly stamp an annotation image on a slide corresponding to your mouse pointer (a thick arrow pointing up and to the left).
Having a pointer stamp is a big plus. I'm a solid believer in drawing the audience's attention to each point in your content. Two things bother me about the MeetingBridge implementation. First, I don't like pointers that point left. Most slides still use bullet points (usually to their detriment). Actually, for any text, it is more convenient to place a pointer to the left of the text, pointing towards the right to highlight the phrase of interest. Pointing left means you can't point at where you want the audience to start reading without making things messy with combined text and graphics. The second problem is that MeetingBridge says "To clear your pointer images and markings, just advance to the next slide." There are plenty of times when I like to put up a brief pointer to focus attention and then clear it to let the content have precedence.
3) You can now annotate a live screen during application sharing.
This is great. Only a few vendors have implemented this ability. I'm hoping MeetingBridge didn't do it in a way that makes you snap a still shot of your screen and annotate that. Building a true annotation layer that can be displayed simultaneously with your live demo is very cool and useful. I'm looking forward to seeing this in action.
4) Application Sharing defaults to sharing all applications (the entire desktop).
I don't have a positive or negative opinion on this, but I hope at some point that MeetingBridge adds the ability to display a presenter-defined region or window on the screen. I love being able to show all popup and overlay windows that occur within a region without having to worry about selecting the application. At the same time, I can keep control boxes or other private stuff outside the region so my audience doesn't see them.
Thanks for the updates, MeetingBridge!