It seems like there are more and more collaboration tools cropping up. Here’s one from Microsoft called Microsoft SharedView. And no, you don’t have to use any Microsoft products in order to use it! Well, except for the OS. There is a small software download that is accessed here. In order to start a session, you need to use your Microsoft Live ID–what– you don’t have one? You’ll need one. The program and the Live ID are both free. You can join a session without an ID.
Using this app, up to 15 people can be invited to see and actually work on a particular document. To start a session, you will open the program and then click on ‘start session’. A pop-up box and a handy button to click on will open an email complete with URL, password, etc. for you to send out to one person or a group. Then you simply click on ‘Share’ and a list of everything open on your computer will pop up. Select the document or anything else on your desktop you want to share and begin sharing.
There is a Personal Mouse Pointer feature to make each participant’s identity visible to everyone. When this feature is turned on, each mouse pointer displays a text identifier to indicate who the mouse pointer belongs to. You can also turn on the tracking feature in Word so you will see who made changes to the document. It is stressed many times to be aware of the fact that when you share whatever is on screen, others in the group can make changes just as if they were sitting at your computer. If you have chosen to share your entire desktop, someone can access anything currently open on your machine and they can even go to your start>programs and get into anything on your computer. It’s nice they point this out, but with everyone else seeing the same thing, it would be pretty evident if someone was up to no good.
After you’ve installed the program, you can launch it from Windows Live Messenger or Office applications, such as Word. I think I saw there’s even a Firefox Add-in to make things easier.I found SharedView pretty intuitive, although there is a help section here if you need assistance in a particular area.
There is a nice IM chat feature included, which is handy for short comments. No audio with this program — you’ll need to dial in to speak to one another.
If you are the organizer of the meeting, you’ll have the ability to add new people to the group, eject someone from the group, stop sharing a particular document and post handouts others can download to their machines.
Besides using this for document collaboration, think of other uses:
- software training/demo – get a conference call number and invite up to 15 people for a demonstration of new software
- Have a meeting! Instead of traveling, invite your far-flung colleagues via e-mail and present from your own office
- Computer troubleshooting – send an invite to a client having computer problems and they give you control and you can fix the problem or walk them through how to fix the problem
- Fun/leisure activities – show pictures or share home movies, youtube videos, etc. with your friends and family