Windows Meeting Space
With the release of Windows Vista, Microsoft is introducing many built-in features that will help the user achieve many tasks that were earlier possible only with third-party tools in Windows XP. Windows XP did not have many tools for collaboration with others and the two major utilities were Remote Desktop and Remote Assistance. They were used mostly for problem solving or by using an Administrator to assist others in their task.
Some common requirements needed for peer-to-peer networking were to share their workstations with people in remote places or demonstrate some software tools for exhibition or marketing purposes. These scenarios required the usage of commercial software that was either too costly to procure or too complex to install and configure the software to meet the requirements.
Windows Vista introduces a utility called "Windows Meeting Space," which meets the requirements discussed above and it is freely available for anyone who owns Windows Vista Home Premium, Windows Vista Business, or Windows Vista Ultimate.
Windows Meeting Space is a peer-to-peer application that operates directly between personal computers. No server infrastructure is involved, even when you use the application over a corporate local area network (LAN) or wireless LAN (WLAN). Also, Windows Meeting Space is designed to enhance and support spontaneous and informal small-group collaboration (up to 10 concurrent users) anywhere, anytime. Lastly, Windows Meeting Space is delivered as a built-in feature of the Windows Vista operating system, and participants only need to be running Windows Vista on their PCs.
Windows Meeting Space allows a user to do the following, provided that he is on a network and the other users also have a copy of Windows Vista running.
- Have a peer-to-peer discussion either with chat or telephone.
- Share the desktop or any particular application with other users.
- Distribute handouts for discussion or share points to be raised.
- Allow one's desktop to be remotely controlled by another user who is part of the meeting. For example, an administrator could see the errors happening on a user's workstation and troubleshoot the problem without the need for him to travel all the way to the user's location, which could be either in the same building or several buildings away in a corporate environment.
Windows Meeting Space works on your current network (wired or wireless). Even if you don't have a network, Windows Meeting Space will create an ad hoc network for you as long as you have a laptop with a network card. Users don't need special knowledge about creating or joining an ad hoc wireless network. The process of creating or joining the meeting is exactly the same as if you were joining a meeting on an infrastructure network. This ad hoc feature is perfect for collaboration when participants do not have access to a network infrastructure—for example, in a coffee shop that has no Wi-Fi hotspots, or when you have a meeting with customers who do not have corporate network access. Windows Meeting Space and its inventive use of ad hoc wireless network integration opens up a range of new and more flexible collaboration possibilities.
The first time Meeting Space is run, it will ask for information that can be used to identify the user on the network. Figures 1 and 2 show the typical setup process.
Figure 1: Setting up Windows Meeting Space
Figure 2: People Near Me Identification