Curated by: Luigi Canali De Rossi

Tuesday, September 16, 2003

Microsoft Live Meeting Shows Microsoft Poor State Of Mind

Sponsored Links

Microsoft has announced yesterday the public availability of its new online conferencing service called Live Meeting.


The service has been built on the pre-existing infrastructure of Placeware which Microsoft bought a few months ago.

The announcement comes in a moment of great innovation in the industry, heralded by the establishment of VoiP as a reliable and effective mean of real-time communication.

The Microsoft announcement shows several weaknesses in Microsoft marketing ability and overall approach to the market while touting over 30 new features and the best facilities for Web conferencing in the industry.

Though this is not a review of Live Meeting technical features, here are a few communication mistakes Microsoft cannot afford to make. They clearly show how bad and feeble is the ability of this mammoth corporation to look after its own steps. Judge by yourself:

a) Microsoft promotes a 30-day free trial. Make sure though that you land on the correct site as that could be abruptly change to 15 days only!
*Try-out offer on Microsoft main site

*Try-out offer on Placeware site

b) Microsoft touts the latest in Web conferencing technology but still requires the old-fashioned telephone to make its magic work (when we have tools like Skype available for free).


c) Microsoft gives a great showcase of how well it tests its own products and Web sites by providing a great display of error messages when users click on the prominent Quick Demo link on the product home page.

d) Microsoft does not recognize or acknowledge Web sites or Blogs as sources of referral for its business. In the sign-up form for the 30-day trial, the last question prompts you for sharing how you first found out about the new Microsoft Live Meeting service. Well, can you imagine that among all of the listed options the terms "web site" or "weblog" do not ever appear (even among the two terms not included in my screenshot. Items not shown in my screenshot are: a) Please select... b) Email)


e) From Alabama to Yukon you are all OK. What about the rest of us? Microsoft does not yet understand the basics of international usability by *requiring*with an asterisk-branded field to fill-in a "State" field in which there are only American states and no option for "others". Are we back to 1995?


f) No warranty. Microsoft between the lines: "You buy our service but we don't guarantee ANY part of it. If it works, fine, if not go somewhere else."
Microsoft official statement:

g) Pricing. Nothing new under the sun here. This is clearly a product meant for the corporate audience who can waste their big budgets on big, bloated tools that have outgrown the idea that originated them. This is a service that should cost $50/month for unlimited meeting and unlimited users and considering that it forces me (an international user) to still use the standard telephone forces my costs for Web conferencing and live collaboration high up. You can do all that of what Live Meeting offers for much, much less and with tools that are small, easy and simple to use. Look at Glance, Skype, Groove, VoiceCafe, Voxwire and WebTrain to see some outstanding products. I know these are not meant to be sold to the "enterprise" audience but they do exactly the same things that Live Meeting does.


h) Elegant deceipt. What does it mean to promise that "you can collaborate with 5 countries at once - Five global offices" when we are really talking about five users on the Internet?


Collaboration and live meetings are the same inside and outside corporations. These are people meeting and wanting to carry out work together in the easiest and most transparent way possible.

It does not matter that I use three tools to achieve what you can do with one.
The issue is about flexibility, ease of access and simplicity. It's OK to have a watch at my wrist, an MP3 player in my bag and a mobile phone in my pocket. If they individually allow me to do more with less while making me more effective and productive they are going to be the tools of my choice. If your new multiple-use "brick" runs only on AC and cost an eye and an arm while not being able to fit in any of my pockets, well, you can keep it, thanks.

What can I say?

I am sure I will find lots of features and new ideas that I will like in this new Microsoft service but if I were to judge the company's health from the few initial discoveries made in under three minutes on their newly launched site, I would be seeing all of the dreadful monsters that characterize so well any company that has completely lost touch with its customers.

It stands clear that this is a product dedicated to enterprise customers who are willing to pay top prices while not getting the best tools on the market. The above should suffice to prove it without even looking at the features, but stand by, my review of Live Meeting is coming next.

For more information about Live meeting see my initial review of this tool here:
Does Microsoft Get It? Live Meeting At-A-Glance

For more information on the best Web conferencing and live presentation tools see my Official Online Guide.

Robin Good

Readers' Comments    
2005-02-01 00:25:42


I surfed to the microsoft home website for Meeting Live (after viewing the tv commercial) and noticed one thing right off the bat: "Use Meeting Live free for 14 days" !!

What happened to 30 days or even the 15 mentioned in this article?!

posted by Robin Good on Tuesday, September 16 2003, updated on Tuesday, May 5 2015

Search this site for more with 








    Curated by

    New media explorer
    Communication designer


    POP Newsletter

    Robin Good's Newsletter for Professional Online Publishers  



    Real Time Web Analytics