Altogether Now: Comparing Collaboration Software: Page 4

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GoToMeeting lets you self-provision and manage Web conferences and Web/audio conferences. It has lots of competitors, some already noted above.

Citrix makes no presence of this being a comprehensive solution like BlueTie or CentralDesktop, positioning it instead as a best-of-breed SaaS component.

You download and install a piece of client software, which integrates with Microsoft Outlook or IBM Lotus Notes, and/or with popular instant messaging services such as Yahoo, Windows Live, Skype or Google Talk. You’re also assigned a dedicated Web page at the Citrix site for organizing and managing scheduled meetings.

Organizers can schedule a meeting, or set up an impromptu meeting by selecting participants from an IM buddy list to automatically send them an IM with a link to the meeting.

Clicking the link in an IM or e-mail invitation takes participants to the Citrix Web site where they download and automatically install a small piece of software (a one-time process) that allows them to join the meeting. They don’t have to be registered customers or pay a user fee.

Citrix also integrates an optional “free” audio conferencing facility. Participants call into a conference number, included in the meeting invitation, and they pay only for long distance.

GoToMeeting screen shot
GoToMeeting provides flat-rate, secure Web conferencing and Web/audio conferencing.
(Click for larger image)

It’s possible to use other audio conferencing facilities, including low-cost services such as Skype, but they must be set up separately. (The integration with Skype only extends to sending invitations using Skype Chat.)

Once in the meeting, the organizer can share his computer screen or a specific application so that the rest of his screen remains hidden. Participants can use the GoToMeeting chat window as well as audio.

The organizer’s GoToMeeting software lets him manage the meeting – adding, dropping or muting participants. He can also use it to give control of his keyboard and/or mouse to a participant. This means GoToMeeting could be useful not just for conventional meetings but also collaborative document editing sessions.

The organizer can also make another participant the presenter, so they can share their screen or an application, or make another participant the organizer so the original organizer can leave but let the meeting continue.

Citrix claims its 128-bit AES encryption and strong password protection for participants makes GoToMeeting the most secure Web conferencing service available.

Pricing is simple: unlimited meetings for a flat fee of either $49 a month, if you pay monthly, or $39 if you pay ahead for the whole year.

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