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Collaborating with Windows Meeting Space

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Paul McFedries runs through the basics of connecting with others using Vista's replacement for NetMeeting, Windows Meeting Space.
This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

In previous versions of Windows, if you needed to remotely collaborate with other users by sharing a program or working together on a document, the tool of choice was Microsoft NetMeeting. Vista's replacement for NetMeeting is an entirely new program: Windows Meeting Space. As in NetMeeting, you can use Windows Meeting Space to show a local program or document to any number of remote users and you can collaborate on a document with remote users. Windows Meeting Space uses several new Vista technologies, including Peer-to-Peer Networking, Distributed File System Replicator (DFSR), and People Near Me. The next few sections show you how Windows Meeting Space works.

Signing In to People Near Me

To use Windows Meeting Space, you must first sign in to People Near Me. You do this either by starting Windows Meeting Space (see "Starting Windows Meeting Space," later in this chapter) or directly via the Control Panel: select Start, Control Panel, Network and Internet, People Near Me.

In the People Near Me dialog box that appears, display the Sign In tab and activate the Sign In to People Near Me option. Before you click OK, you might want to look at the Settings tab, which enables you to change the name and picture that other people see, and to control various other People Near Me options, as shown in Figure 23.12.


Figure 23.12 Use the Settings tab to configure People Near Me.

When you first sign in, Vista displays the People Near Me privacy policy, which states that the People Near Me feature discloses only your name, your computer name, and your computer's IP address. Click OK to continue.

Starting Windows Meeting Space

When you're signed in to People Near Me, you can launch Windows Meeting Space by selecting Start, All Programs, Windows Meeting Space. The first time you do this, the Windows Meeting Space Setup dialog box appears. For Windows Meeting Space to work, the data must be allowed to pass through the Windows Firewall—to do that, there must be Windows Firewall exceptions for the Meeting Space Infrastructure and the DFSR. If you click Yes, Continue Setting Up Windows Meeting Space (and enter your UAC credentials), Vista creates the exceptions for you automatically.

The Windows Meeting Space window appears, as shown in Figure 23.13. From there, you either start a new collaboration meeting or join an existing meeting, as described in the next couple of sections.


Figure 23.13 Use the Windows Meeting Space window to start and join collaboration meetings.

Joining a Meeting

If you know that another person has a meeting running, but you didn't receive an invitation, here are the steps to follow to join that meeting:

  1. In the Windows Meeting Space window, click Join a Meeting Near Me. Windows Meeting Space displays a list of running meetings (see Figure 23.13).
  2. Click the meeting you want to join. Windows Meeting Space prompts you to enter the meeting password.
  3. Type the password and press Enter. Windows Meeting Space verifies your password and then joins the meeting.

Starting a Meeting

If you want to start your own collaboration meeting, follow these steps:

  1. Click Start a New Meeting.
  2. Enter the meeting name.
  3. Enter the meeting password.
  4. Press Enter. Meeting Space starts the new meeting, as shown in Figure 23.14.

    Figure 23.14 A new meeting, ready to begin.

Inviting People to the Meeting

You can't collaborate unless there are other people in the meeting, so your next step is to send invitations to those people you want to join the meeting. Here are the steps:

  1. Click Invite in the menu bar or click the Invite People icon to display the Invite People dialog box.
  2. Activate the check box beside each person you want to invite.
  3. Click Send Invitations.

A user who receives your invitation first sees the notification shown in Figure 23.15. Click View (or wait a few seconds), and you see the Invitation Details dialog box shown in Figure 23.16. Click Accept to join the meeting (this also loads Windows Meeting Space on the user's machine; at this point, you enter the meeting password); click Decline to refuse the invitation or click Dismiss to do nothing.


Figure 23.15 You see this notification when a meeting invitation first arrives.


Figure 23.16 This dialog box appears a few seconds after the invitation arrives.

As people accept the invitations, their People Near Me name appears in the Windows Meeting Space Participants list.

Sharing a Handout

Before getting to the presentation, you might have some notes, instructions, background material, or other type of handout that you want to share with each participant. You do this by following these steps:

  1. Click Add in the menu bar or by click the Add a Handout icon. Meeting Space tells you the handouts will be copied to each computer.
  2. Click OK.
  3. Select your file and then click Open. The file appears immediately in the Handouts area, which shows the filename and the name of the person who added it.

Starting a Shared Session

When all your participants have joined the meeting and you've shared your handouts, it's time to start the shared sessions. In Meeting Space, a shared session involves one of the participants performing some sort of action on his or her computer; the other participants see the results of those actions within their meeting window. You can perform three basic actions:

  • Demonstrating a specific program— This involves running the program on your computer so that other people in the meeting can watch what you do.
  • Collaborating on a document— This involves running a program and opening the document. The person who starts the shared sessions initially has control over the document, but control can pass to any participant.
  • Demonstrating any action— This involves sharing your desktop, which means that the other participants see anything you do on your computer.

Follow these steps to start a shared session:

  1. If you're going to demonstrate a specific program or collaborate on a document, start the program or open the document.
  2. Click Share in the menu bar. Meeting Space asks whether you want the other participants to see your desktop.
  3. Click OK. The Start a Shared Session dialog box appears.
  4. You have three choices:
    • To share a program, select the program from the list of running applications.
    • To share a document, select Browse for a File to Open and Share.
    • To share your desktop, select Desktop.
  5. Click Share.
  6. If you are sharing a document, the Open dialog box appears. Select the document and then select Open.

Controlling the Shared Session

After you begin a shared session, the Meeting Space window displays a You are sharing X message, where X is the object you're sharing. You also see two links:

  • Show Me How My Shared Sessions Looks on Other Computers— Click this link to see your shared session from the point of view of a remote computer.
  • Stop Sharing— Click this link to shut down the shared session.

Vista also displays a You are sharing message as well as the meeting title in a title bar across the top of the desktop, as shown in Figure 23.17. You can use the controls in this bar as follows:

  • Click Pause to stop the shared session temporarily.
  • Click Give Control and then click a participant's name to give that person control of the shared session.
  • Click Give Control, Take Control (or press Windows Logo+Esc) to resume control of the shared session.
  • Click Options, Shows Windows Meeting Space Window to switch to the Windows Meeting Space window.
  • Click the Stop button to stop the shared session.

Figure 23.17 This bar appears at the top of your desktop after you start a shared session.

Figure 23.18 shows what the shared session looks like on a remote computer.


Figure 23.18 The presentation as seen on a remote computer.

Ending the Shared Session

When the shared session is over, click the Stop Sharing link in the Meeting Space window or click the Stop Sharing button in the session title bar. If you don't want to share anything else, select Meeting, Leave Meeting, or close the Meeting Space window.

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