Sharedview: Free Screen Sharing for Web Workgroups

Microsoft is out with a new beta 2 version of its Sharedview screen sharing and collaboration application. If you’re a Windows user and haven’t tried it, and especially if you collaborate online with other web workers, it’s worth a look. It’s an easy way for up to 15 people at remote locations to view each other’s screens and applications, chat with each other, exchange handouts, and more.

Beta 2 is free for anyone to try. You need a Windows Live ID and password to sign up, but a simple Hotmail address and password will suffice. I used the first beta of Sharedview and found that it had a few performance problems, and it was a little kludgey to invite others into Sharedview sessions. Both of those problems are cleaned up in the new version, though.

Inviting participants to your sessions is like inviting people to an instant messaging session, and once your group is together online you can send messages to individual participants or choose a “Type a message to all participants” drop-down to broadcast a message to everybody, or you can broadcast whole files to everybody. Sharedview sits like a dock atop your screen, and controls for distributing handouts, changing participants in a session, sending broadcast messages and more are on the dock. You can also preview what you are about to share before you do so.

Unlike many remote control applications, Sharedview actually allows collaboration in real time. So, for example, if I am sharing a Word document with my co-workers, and one of them notices a problem in the document, he or she can place a cursor next to the location of the problem and his or her name will be displayed next to the cursor as everyone views it.

I’m hoping that in future versions of Sharedview, free use of the application will allow more than 15 people to be in a session concurrently. However, you can get started using Sharedview instantly, and it’s a good way to do virtual meetings where it’s not even a requirement for all participants to be on the phone together.

Do you have any good tips on screen sharing and collaboration applications?