It is impossible to overstate the impact that the internet has had on modern business paradigms. Geographical considerations are removed from the buyer and seller relationship, and commerce is more efficient than ever before. The internet has allowed distributed workspaces and vastly reduced the wasted money and time of corporate travel by allowing meeting participants to share information in real time from their computers. Perhaps the most innovative way in which the internet has brought organizations closer together is through the use of web conferencing software. Web conferencing software allows meeting participants to not only communicate by voice, but also allows them to share presentations, scribble on a shared whiteboard, video chat, and in general interact in a much more sophisticated manner than can achieved in any other way short of meeting face to face. While the concept of remote conferencing is not new, the big difference between today and a few years ago is price. Virtual conferencing was once the domain of only the largest and most well funded companies; however, with the advent of the internet, it is possible to get inexpensive web conferencing software (even free web conferencing software from some companies that offer trial versions).
One of the major players in the free web conference world is the online web conferencing provider Webex (http://www.webex.com). Webex is perhaps the most popular free web conferencing software in use by businesses today. The free web conferencing software offered by Webex is a fourteen day unlimited free trial of their full version. This is a great piece of free web conferencing software for those who are still evaluating their web conferencing needs. Webex software provides security in the form of meeting passwords and allows users to participate in text chat while viewing the presentation on their computer screen as well as participating in the voice portion via a telephone conference number.
One great feature of the Webex free web conferencing software is that all of the custom software components are housed on the Webex server. Participants, therefore, do not need to install specialized software on their machines. The Webex free web conferencing software uses the participants’ standard internet browser to display meeting content. Any standards compliant browser is all that is required to access meetings that use the Webex free web conferencing software. Meeting presenters can use Webex free web conferencing software to share applications such as Microsoft Word or PowerPoint, and can update the presentation on the fly to respond to questions from the audience or to highlight key points. Interactivity is supported by allowing the meeting organizer to specify users who can take temporary control of the presentation so that they can add their own thoughts and inputs.
Those who are interested in finding free web conferencing software would be remiss if they did not consider Microsoft NetMeeting. NetMeeting is a utility that runs on Microsoft Windows (it is included with the distributions of some versions of Windows) and allows participants to use voice, video, and data communications. Microsoft NetMeeting is not as fully featured as Webex and other free web conferencing software that are scaled down versions of pay products. However, Microsoft NetMeeting is fully free and not a crippled version (i.e. the version you download is the full thing, not a trial version).
Microsoft NetMeeting and the trial version of the Webex free web conferencing software are great choices for those who are looking to take advantage of the power of web conferencing without having to spend top dollar for the latest and most advanced products. NetMeeting is a great entry level free web conferencing software package and the Webex free web conferencing software package is a scaled down version of their full offering.