Microsoft Corp., the software giant based in Redmond, Wash., added online meeting hosting to its product line today. Called Microsoft Office Live Meeting, the service is the latest version of the product that formerly was offered by Mountainview, Calif.-based PlaceWare, which was acquired by Microsoft earlier this year.
The service, which can connect up to 2,000 people online, includes two types of virtual conference rooms to accommodate larger meetings and smaller, more collaborative sessions. Several interactive options allow participants to click on links, fill out forms, or use interactive media on the meeting site; the product also has real-time polling and electronic whiteboards that give each attendee a different colored set of tools to use. Access to the meetings is controlled with meeting IDs and meeting keys, or with individual authentication with access control lists. Meeting planners can send invitations automatically to attendees that use Microsoft’s Outlook or other common e-mail applications.
To get the launch rolling, the company is offering a free demo and free access to the service for 30 days when you sign up. For more information, visit www.microsoft.com/office/preview/livemeeting/default.asp.--Sue Pelletier