WebEx alternatives

Web conferencing lets you connect with anyone, anywhere, in real time. WebEx combines desktop sharing through a web browser with phone conferencing and video, so everyone sees the same thing while you talk.
Here are the latest news about WebEx:

2012 Free Webex is already available

As Cisco promised, its web-conferencing service WebEx is becoming free. True, the number of free conference hosts (i.e. users that can create and manage online meetings) was reduced from 3 to 1. But the free disk space was increased up to 1 GB. The free online meeting can support up to 25 people simultaneously and provide the variety of tools: screen-sharing, whiteboard, remote control, file sharing, presentations, VoIP, video in HD-format, recording. You might be surprised that the service is currently in Beta status (after all, WebEx has been the web-conferencing market leader  for many years). The fact that it's not just the free version. It's a new version of WebEx, which in addition to web-conferencing adds a workspace for collaboration before and after online meeting.

There you can not only plan meetings and invite participants, but also share files before the online meeting and discuss them with your colleagues. And after the virtual meeting you can share the meeting record as well as files created during the meeting and continue the discussion. So, despite the beta status - you can be confident in the quality of the web-conferencing tool.

You can register a free WebEx account here.

2011 WebEx adds free version, online office workspace

Finally, the most popular Web-conferencing service Cisco WebEx is getting closer to small business. At the Collaboration Summit in Miami Cisco has introduced the new version of Webex and the subscription free plan for 3 people and 250 MB of space. In addition to basic functions (screen-sharing, whiteboard, online presentations, document collaboration, VoIP and instant messaging) the free version also provides video conferencing (but not in HD-quality). Of course, there are several other web-conferencing services that offer free version, but WebEx differs by high quality and extensive functionality. According to the Cisco representatives the free version is already available, but we couldn't find it on the WebEx site. So, let's wait. We also have to wait till Q1 2012 for the new version of WebEx, which includes the very interesting feature - online workspace.

Even before Cisco bought WebEx, it included not only the web-conferencing tool, but also the virtual office WebEx WebOffice. It's an intranet-collaboration SaaS service that includes file storage, tasks, calendar, discussions, contacts, mail and of course it was integrated with WebEx online meetings. Long ago it was the best solution on the market, but then Google Apps, Zoho and others appeared and WebEx WebOffice was lost in the crowd.

Now Cisco is trying to unite web-meetings and collaboration from the other side - to add online office tools to the WebEx web-conferencing service. The next WebEx version will feature the new shell - WebEx Meeting Space, designed for collaboration before and after meetings. It includes activity stream, file storage, online chat, meetings calendar and scheduler. For example, in this workspace you can schedule a meeting, send invitations to attendees, share some files in advance and discuss the upcoming meeting in comments and live chat. And after the meeting - you can upload the meeting video, the resulting documents and discuss the meeting results in the comments.

Here is a video showing how it works.

2010 iPad for Enterprise: the PR rush

So, iPad is now available in US and like Avatar is breaking all records (already about 400 thousand devices are sold). The first users have already downloaded several millions iPad applications, but most of them are consumer apps, rather than business applications. As we noted earlier, iPad has a little chance to become a revolutionary business tool. And not just because of the lack of webcam, multitasking, Flash support and security measures. Despite its originality, iPad will compete in the corporate market with an army of netbooks and smartphones (including iPhone). But certainly iPad will be useful for business of software vendors, which have already begun to announce iPad clients to get the customer attention.

GMail iPad
At the forefront of those who wants this attention is Google. This is not surprising, because Google has a great interest in the consumer market. The company has already unveiled the GMail version, optimized for the iPad. It works in the mobile browser Safari, using the HTML5 standards. Furthermore, there is a version of Google Voice for iPad and most likely, soon we'll see Google Docs for the iPad.

Webex iPad
Box.net quickly adapted its iPhone application for iPad. Unlike Google's browser-based application, it's a full-featured client that can be installed from the App Store. For Box.net it's a remarkable chance to promote its universal document viewer.

GoToMeeting iPad
Web conferencing services Webex and GoToMeeting also released iPad-clients. They allow to view web conference content and communicate via chat. Rackspace created mobile client for the iPad, that allows to control the cloud infrastructure. IBM announced Lotus Sametime communications app for the iPad.

But Microsoft was most original. Company representatives said they are not developing and have no plans to adopt Outlook and MS Office for the iPad. And this announcement received as much attention as the appearance of GMail for the iPad.