I have been involved with NetMeeting for so long that I have turned grey in the process. And NetMeeting has gotten old and grey in the process as well. Microsoft's decision to retire NetMeeting (after basically abandoning development in 1999) is no doubt the right decision. What surprises me is that there is no other product out there with the promise that NetMeeting once had (at least for me). What I expected from NetMeeting when it first came out was that it would evolve into a product that supported:
- ad hoc multiparty audio/video meetings (or at least multiparty audio) over the Internet without the need for a separate server (except perhaps for location and presence information)
- multiparty data sharing could happen during the meeting (application sharing, whiteboard sharing, file sharing seemed like a good basic set)
No product today supports this functionality set and it seems none have plans to do so. Msn Messenger supports one to one audio/video, and one to one data sharing. Skype supports serverless multiparty audio/video (currently just in beta I think). GoogleTalk supports very little despite a recent release and some misplaced hype.
What is the problem here? Does nobody else recognize the need? Or are there still some barriers that I am not aware of?
I recognize that along the way there were various technological and infrastructure barriers in the way:
- individual bandwidth restrictions were a problem -there is a lot of personal bandwidth connectivity in at least most of the western world -- not much dialup anymore
- computing power to process and mix audio/video in the past has been a problem -- today many machines have more than ample computer power
- internet gateways were a block on some types of interaction -- but UPnP functionality in modern gateway devices has largely eliminated that problem
Is there some barrier still left that I am not seeing? Why hasn't this technology developed beyond 1999?