With the announcement yesterday about Facebook’s Video chat feature, there is more interest surrounding ways that you can share the apps running on your screen as well as your mug across a video link. There are dozens of Web conferencing products that I have cataloged here and I will mention a few of these services that are completely free and can be used to set up a video link between at least two computers with a minimum of fuss and bother.

Some of the services put limits on the number of participants (for example, OpenACircle is for three or fewer attendees, others can handle up to 10 people). Others have a basic free service with limited features and more available if you pony up to a paid subscription. There are four basic features that these products cover.

First is the ability to conduct an online meeting, sharing a presenter’s screen with others who are viewing. We’ve all been on Webex or GotoMeetings and these products offer the same feature, although without many of the features of the paid products, such as remote control of a presenter’s screen.

Second is audio conferencing. Participants use a headset and their computers, dial out or dial in with a phone bridge number/service.

Third is group text chat. This is useful for asking questions of the group or directed at specific individuals. Google+’s hangout space offers a basic version of this. Facebook also has group text chats too.

Finally is a video chat feature, whereby each participant’s camera is activated and you can see who is on the call.

Some of these services we’ve reviewed in the past include:

But there are several others worth mentioning here:

  • Anymeeting can host up to 200 participants and can record the audio during the meeting as well. It probably is the most feature-rich free service out there with invitation and meeting registration tools built-in.
  • Join.me is just for screen-sharing, but it is dirt simple and it will take you seconds to get a session started, as you can see in the screenshot below. You can have up to 250 people viewing your screen and there is text chat included. There are views for iOS and Android phones too. You can upgrade to the Pro version for audio conferencing. It comes from LogMeIn.
  • Mikogo can have up to 10 participants, and requires downloaded Windows or Mac software to participate. It can do text chats and audio conferencing too.
  • Vyew also handles up to 10 people per conference. There are paid versions that can handle multiple conference rooms and bigger crowds, and will also handle remote control of your desktop applications.

    david strom