One of the favorite things I saw at this year’s TechEd was the new version of Office Live Meeting 2007. It might not have been the most earthshaking technology at the show but it could have a big impact on the Webcasts you see on TechNet and MSDN. As you may know (or not), our team uses Live Meeting to record most of our Webcasts and we strip out the audio to create the Webcast Audio Podcasts. While Live Meeting was not created for this purpose, it works well for our use - it's simple and provides most of the functionality we need. The new version of Live Meeting has some new features which will help make our Webcasts even richer in the future. A few of the features I liked:
1. Video support– The current version of Live Meeting does not support video. A Webcast presenter can’t show off a video that they may otherwise use in a live PowerPoint presentation. With the new version they can – so the potential for a richer Webcast experience is there.
2. Support for slide builds – I don’t know this for a fact but if LM supports video I’m assuming that it will support PPT slide builds. This is big since the replay of the Webcasts would often have overlapping text which made no sense since the original PPT deck had slide builds one on top of the other. To get around that problem we encouraged presenters to create separate slides for each build. This should make the on-demand viewing of our Webcasts much more pleasant.
3. Talking head video – The new version also supports Webcams so you could potentially see the Webcast presenter in a small window as they talk. I’m not sure how many of our presenters are willing to set up a Webcam for all to see, but I think it will add one more element of interest. They also showed off support for the new Microsoft RoundTable ringcam which is an awesome new camera which gives you a panoramic 360 degree view of a conference room and directional mikes which detects were the sound is coming from and focuses on the face of the person talking. It’s not something we’d use for Webcasts but very cool for businesses looking to collaborate in meetings using the Web.
4. VoIP Support – Most of the live Webcasts are broadcast over IAB. LM2007 will support VoIP which should provide higher quality and more reliable audio during our live Webcasts.
Office Live Meeting 2007 is scheduled to be released in the Fall so it will be awhile before we see new Webcasts in this format. Something to look forward to…