Web-based conferencing comes of age

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Adobe Connect and Cisco Webex tie for first in 8-vendor test

As more people telecommute, having a reliable way to connect via desktop video conferencing takes on greater importance. And for employees working in the office, Web-based meetings are a less expensive and less time consuming alternative to business travel.

Web-based conferencing services aren't new, but they have been getting better, easier to use and less expensive. The options range from one-on-one desktop screen sharing to group video chats to large-scale presentations such as Webinars or "virtual conferences."

We looked at eight desktop conferencing services, a mix of market leaders and newcomers, including Adobe Connect, Cisco Webex, Citrix GotoMeeting, InterCall Unifed Meeting (in beta with v5), LogMeIn Join.Me Pro, Microsoft Lync 2013 (in beta, and part of Office 365), Skype Premium (now owned by Microsoft), and Vyew.com Professional.

These vendors have interesting backgrounds -- InterCall comes from traditional audio conferencing services back when we used to refer to them as "bridges, Skype and Lync both come from the Instant Messaging world, GoToMeeting and Join.Me come from vendors who started in the remote support business. All of the services cost less than $60 per month. Several (WebEx, Vyew, and Join.Me) offer free services if your needs are modest, and others offer more expensive plans if you have larger audience requirements. (Watch a slideshow of the products.)

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