Robert Harnischmacher wrote me to make sure I saw the new press release from www.webconferencing-test.com. They have extensively updated their website showing summary comparisons between five web conferencing technologies. When they first created this site, I was one of a number of bloggers and writers in America and Germany who got on their case about the wording in their comparison charts and what looked like a conflict of interest in their vendor relationships. Publicare (the owner of the site) has gone to great lengths to address these concerns very openly and extensively. I commend them for the public care (pun intended) they show in the new design.
As their press release states, the site is geared towards a comparison of low-cost group collaboration software appropriate for small businesses and the self-employed. This means that they don't place great importance on things like user registration management and reporting, presenter/attendee interactions, and other features that are useful in more formal, one-to-many webinars. For this reason, they chose to evaluate WebEx MeetMeNow instead of its Meeting Center or Event Center. Fair enough... I would agree that it's a better comparison with Citrix's base GoToMeeting product. But for some reason they chose to look at Adobe Acrobat Connect Professional instead of the lower-end Connect product, which is more geared towards the collaborative market. They might want to shift their focus with that vendor some time in the future.
They added Netviewer one2meet to their comparison chart. I'm not familiar with that company or software. Netviewer is a German company and it's nice that Publicare's German customer base has a locally-oriented product in their own language to consider.
Publicare's summaries on the site include a quick overall score comparison based on seven areas of consideration. As with "thumb-up/thumb-down" movie reviews, quick summaries should be taken with a grain of salt and used as a guide to determining which contenders you want to spend more time digging into in detail. Your priorities may not be the same as the reviewer's. This is true no matter who puts it together, and isn't a slam against Publicare.
The results page includes another small but telling functional improvement to the site. You now have easy one-click access to the vendor websites and free trial offers for each product. That is very welcome and much easier to use than the old site's design.
Their System Requirements table is very useful for quickly skimming through the operating systems and browsers officially supported by each vendor. This is a big help if you have specific platform needs.
I think the most ambitious page in the website is Publicare's attempt to summarize licensing models and costs, along with a calculation of virtual savings for a representative business changing their in-person meetings to online collaboration. You could use this as a basis for your own calculations to justify expenditures. Putting together a table of licensing costs for web conferencing software is like trying to herd eels... the vendors keep wriggling around with special packages, discounts for pre-purchase, bundled audio options, and so on. But this chart is a great overview for comparative purposes.
The features comparison table is again useful mainly as an overview to guide your more detailed investigation and experimentation. Knowing that all products on the chart offer "Chat" does not tell you whether you will like the way it is implemented. Maybe some offer both public and private chat modes, while others have public-only. How do you initiate a chat conversation... through a separate menu command or a simple right-click on an attendee's name? Can a meeting host mute an attendee's chat privileges if they start to abuse their rights? Again, those kinds of questions are beyond the scope of any table of this sort, and it's not a fault of Publicare. Just remember that you still have work to do after you review a table like this.
With all these changes to the site, I have changed my tune from angry skepticism to cheerful endorsement of Publicare's webconferencing-test.com. It is now a very useful tool for those seeking an introduction to some of the well-known collaborative meeting software products. Nice job, Robert and friends!
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