Microsoft to Phase Out NetMeeting

After six years of service, Microsoft is officially retiring its NetMeeting conferencing software. Instead, the company's Office Live Meeting software, based upon PlaceWare, will fill the void left by the gradual phase out of NetMeeting.

Currently, both MSN and Windows Messenger utilize NetMeeting technology to power application and whiteboard sharing. Development is indefinitely frozen, however, and Microsoft's IM clients will be migrated to drive Live Meeting services.

A Microsoft spokesperson told BetaNews, "NetMeeting is still supported and available with current editions of Windows although there will not be any new versions of NetMeeting."

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"Microsoft believes that NetMeeting provides customer value in certain scenarios, and that Live Meeting will be a compelling complementary service in many situations," the spokesperson said. "Moving forward, it is expected that all future innovations will come within the LCS, Live Meeting and Windows Messenger technologies."

Despite the advent of richer whiteboard clients and the near ubiquity of instant messaging, NetMeeting remains an integral part of many organizations' IT infrastructures. According to the product's Web site, customers ranging from Boeing, to Ford, to the United States Navy make use of NetMeeting for real time communications and collaborative tasks.

A Microsoft case study reads, "The United States Navy solved worldwide equipment maintenance and repair issues by creating a TeleMaintenance service using Microsoft NetMeeting, which provides real-time multimedia communications to enable the Shore Support Infrastructure to resolve more repairs without having to send for a 'tech assist.'"

Throughout its product lifespan, NetMeeting has shipped as free component of Windows, but Live Meeting will not carry on the torch. Microsoft is now offering a free 30-day trial of Live Meeting, but the software is otherwise priced per seat.

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