I blew a fact in my previous post about Adobe Acrobat Connect. I had said that Acrobat Reader will not support the "Start Meeting" button to start up a Connect meeting. That was incorrect information. Adobe was kind enough to let me attend a customer briefing today on the upcoming Acrobat extensions for Connect (hosted by Michael Fitzpatrick, Group Product Manager for Breeze/Connect). They showed pre-release screen shots of the launch button in different versions of Acrobat. Sure enough, there it is in Acrobat Reader.
I asked for some additional details about this button that's been getting all the press lately. If you host an enterprise license you'll be able to turn off the button functionality for your users if desired. Clicking the button in normal usage will prompt you for your Acrobat Connect meeting account login information. If you don't have an account you will be provided with an opportunity to try out a free trial account. Given the ubiquity of Acrobat in all its various forms, this is sure to be a tremendous marketing boost that should help increase awareness and ultimately market share for Adobe in the web conferencing space.
There were only a few other new details I was able to glean. The standard version of Connect should be available before the end of this year and will only work in hosted mode... there is no licensed installable version. Connect Professional (nee Breeze) remains an option for hosted or licensed use. By the way, they put up a quick poll at the beginning of the briefing asking whether the user's company runs in hosted or licensed mode. 45% said hosted, 55% said licensed. I'm a little surprised that hosted wasn't more. But then again, the people likely to come to a briefing of this sort are probably more likely to be serious regular users of the software. Casual users who occasionally access the hosted version aren't going to care as much about technical differences in the new version.
I confirmed that screen sharing in the new Connect standard version will support all three ways to define the sharing region: full desktop, named application, or user-defined frame. I'm always a big proponent of this flexibility.
The biggest remaining drawback of the Breeze software sticks around for Connect Professional. You can''t download a recording file of an event. It can only be accessed from the Adobe server through a direct URL to the online recording. Many of my clients like to keep event recordings themselves for distribution on CD or for hosting on their own systems. I asked for more detail after the main briefing and Michael told me that the recorded components of a meeting are stored in separate locations on the Adobe server and the server manages playback to the viewer when watching the archive. It actively coordinates the components and provides for interactivity with things such as Flash applications embedded in the event. Several other attendees at today's briefing expressed an emphatic desire for a downloadable event recording file. Adobe says it is a very high priority for addition in a future release.