Live Meeting 2007 – Web Access Problems

    October 24, 2007

It turns out that while David Chao’s article was correct about the size of the Microsoft Live Meeting client download, that is only part of the story.

The Live Meeting installation information and product website recommends using the full client if possible, for complete functionality. That is indeed a 15MB download, with an installation disk space requirement of 125MB! The installation requires Microsoft Windows, as the EXE and DLL components are written only for a Windows operating system.

But there is an alternative. Live Meeting allows the use of "Meeting Web Access" (MWA), which lets you run the service from a web browser as a Java applet. The system requirements page lists supported platforms as Internet Explorer on Windows, Firefox on Windows (but only XP… not Vista!), Safari on Mac OS, and Firefox on Solaris. I called tech support and asked about Unix and Linux operating systems. The rep told me that those platforms may or may not work and they are not tested or supported. (By the way, Microsoft turned down my request for a briefing or interview, so all information here is via my own experiments, the official web pages, or tech support calls.)

I unsuccessfully looked around the website for a description of what functionality is lost when you access a meeting through MWA rather than the full client. Tech support helped me out again. I was told that you lose only the ability to share streaming video content and to use 2-way VoIP for voice communications.

I thought I would try to deliver my first test webinar as a presenter using MWA before I installed the local client software… Just to see how that worked for people who couldn’t do the disk installation. The web applet loaded within about 15 seconds, which is reasonable. When I tried to upload a PowerPoint file to the meeting room, the program told me that I had to load an Active/X control. But no matter what I tried, the control refused to load. I turned off my antivirus software, I checked my Internet Explorer settings against the documentation and couldn’t find anything blocking it. Yet it stubbornly refused to work. I called tech support and got a nice guy in Austin, Texas who stepped me through all the normal troubleshooting procedures (including my favorite… "Reboot your machine.") Still no luck. So he asked me to run a Microsoft system dump utility that amazed me. It ran for more than ten minutes. That’s a lot of information! I sent in the data file and I’m waiting for a response from the "expedited problem" team.

Results of Day One: Zero success in performing the most basic function of presenting a PowerPoint slideshow via the web access console. I’m the first to admit that it is most likely a problem with a setting on my computer rather than anything inherent in the Microsoft program. But it is frustrating that we can’t figure out what the conflict is and how to resolve it. This is supposed to be the easier and faster way to connect!

Keep checking in for more developments and tests.