• Create BookmarkCreate Bookmark
  • Create Note or TagCreate Note or Tag
  • PrintPrint
Microsoft NetMeeting\program files\netmeeting\conf.exe

Voice and video conference application.

To Open

Start Programs Accessories Communications NetMeeting

Command Prompt conf


NetMeeting allows videoconferencing (videophone) andvoice conferencing (net phone) over a network or Internet connection (see Figure 4-53). The connection is made via either a central directory service (Microsoft provides several) or directly to another user's IP address.

All you need to initiate a voice conference (audio only) is an Internet connection and a sound card, speakers, and a microphone on each end. For video conferencing, all you need in addition are two videoconferencing cameras (USB cameras are surprisingly cheap). As you might expect, videoconferencing requires more bandwidth than voice conferencing alone. Make sure your Internet connection and all your sound and video hardware are properly installed before you try to use them with NetMeeting.

Figure 4-53. NetMeeting facilitates voice and video conferencing over an Internet or LAN connection

The first time you start NetMeeting, you'll be asked several questions about your identity. If privacy is a concern, you don't have to fill out all the fields, but the email address will help others find you if they don't have your IP address (using a directory server).

The next page in the setup wizard allows you to choose how you'll use directory services. For NetMeeting to establish a connection between two computers, one user must call another; and in order for that to happen, the caller must either know the recipient's IP address or must specify the recipient's email address. Since a user's IP address can change every time that user connects to the Internet (only with dynamic IP assignment), a directory server can be used to automatically look up a user's IP address by supplying only the user's email address.

If you choose to "Log onto a directory server when NetMeeting starts," NetMeeting will update the directory server with your current IP address every time you start a session; turn this option off if you have a static (unchanging) IP address or if you wish to manually inform prospective callers of your IP address every time you need to use NetMeeting. If you choose to use a directory server, you can use Microsoft's default (Microsoft's Internet Directory) or specify your own server (see Notes). Unless you wish to have strangers calling you, you'll probably want to place a checkmark next to the "Do not list my name in the directory" option. After that, you will be asked to specify the speed of your connection and whether or not you what to create a Desktop icon. Next, you'll be walked through the Audio Tuning Wizard, the tool that will help you adjust the levels of your microphone and speakers so that NetMeeting will work properly. If you make any changes to your sound hardware, you can run the Audio Tuning Wizard again by going to Tools Audio Tuning Wizard.

Using NetMeeting is not hard. To start a conference, one user must call another; if you're the caller, type the recipient's email address or IP address into the text field at the top of the window and press enter or click the little telephone button. The recipient must also be running NetMeeting; when a call is placed, the recipient's copy of NetMeeting will "ring" and the recipient will be given the chance to accept or ignore the incoming call. Hang up any call by clicking the Hang Up button or by selecting Hang Up from the Call menu.

The "Windows NetMeeting" box in the middle of the NetMeeting window is for the video of the other person in the conversation and can be turned off with View Data Only. The Play/Pause button underneath is used to start and stop the video portion of the conference. If you are videoconferencing, you'll probably want to select My Video from the View menu to see what your partner is seeing.

In addition to facilitating a person-to-person conference, NetMeeting allows you to set up a meeting in which any number of users can join and video or voice conference. Rather than placing calls, however, the meeting is initiated when one user decides to host a meeting (Call Host Meeting). Furthermore, several collaboration tools are made available with meetings:


Also called "Remote Desktop Sharing," this feature is a basic remote control program, in which you can see another user's Desktop and control it as though you were sitting in front of it. Alternatives to Remote Desktop Sharing includepcAnywhere (commercial software, http://www.symantec.com/), VNC (freeware, http://www.uk.research.att.com/vnc/), and Remote Desktop Connection (included with Windows XP Professional and discussed later in this chapter).


The NetMeeting Whiteboard is not unlike a real whiteboard: it allows users to collaborate by using drawing tools on blank white page. All members of the meeting see the same whiteboard and can watch as others draw.


Like Microsoft Chat, the Chat feature in NetMeeting allows users to communicate by typing. While it may seem archaic, it's really an easy way to share short pieces of text, such as web addresses, phone numbers, or excerpts from documents.

File Transfer

What communication tool would be complete without a way to share files? NetMeeting allows you to send and receive files with those who have joined your meeting by going to Tools File Transfer Send File. You can also send a file to all members by simply dragging the file into the call window; once a file is sent, recipients can individually accept or decline the transfer. Note that, unless you have an exceptionally fast connection, the transfer of files during a meeting will significantly slow down your connection and the quality of the video and sound will go down. Naturally, you can also send and receive files via email or FTP.

To join the meeting in progress, place a call to the user hosting the meeting as you would when initiating a one-on-one conference, as described above.


  • To use a videocamera or other video source with NetMeeting, the driver must be compatible with either the H.261 or H.263 compression/decompression (codec) protocols.

  • If you don't wish to use the directory service, you can have others connect to you by providing your IP address. To find out what your IP address is, select About from NetMeeting's Help menu or use the Windows IP Configuration, described later in this chapter. If you have a dynamic IP address, you can use a service like DynIP (http://www.dynip.com) or HomeIP (http://www.homeip.net) to associate a domain with your IP address, a link that is updated every time you connect to the Internet.

  • There are circumstances when others will not be able to connect to you, usually because of a problem with your IP address or because of a firewall. For example, if you're using computer connected to the Internet through Internet Connection Sharing (see Chapter 6), you may not have a valid IP address. Likewise, a firewall, which is designed to prevent certain types of network communication, can easily interfere with NetMeeting. The solution, if you encounter one of these problems, is for you to place the call and for your partner to answer.

  • While NetMeeting is designed to facilitate conferencing over the Internet, it also supports local area networks. If you wish to call another NetMeeting user on your local network, simply type that user's computer name instead of the IP address or email address.

  • Microsoft Internet Directory is a dedicated directory server that allows users to host meetings and allows other users to view a directory of all users on the server, similar to the way a chat server works. You can browse the directory of users and join any meetings they are hosting. ILS 2.0 is part of Microsoft Site Server and is also available for free download from http://www.microsoft.com/, if you are interested in running your own server on the Internet or a local network. When you first run NetMeeting, you can choose from a list of popular ILSs to which to connect (most are run by Microsoft). Once connected, the NetMeeting directory view lists users that are hosting meetings on the server.

  • If you want NetMeeting to run automatically when you start Windows, select Tools Options General Run when Windows starts. This will also set NetMeeting to alert you of incoming calls. The other thing you may wish to do is set NetMeeting to automatically log onto a directory server by going to Tools Options and turning on the "Log onto directory server when NetMeeting starts" option. This turns NetMeeting into a "messenger" or "buddy list" application.

  • When using Netmeeting, you may be prompted to sign up for a Microsoft .NET Passport account. Unfortunately, this has caused some confusion among many users. A Passport account is absolutely not required for any features of Windows, with the exception of the MSN Explorer and Windows Messenger components. Passport is a totally optional service (and Microsoft has been widely criticized for making it appear otherwise), and unless you wish to use MSN, Messenger, or the Hotmail service, you'll most likely have no use for a Passport account.

See Also

Microsoft Chat, Msg, Phone Dialer

  • Creative Edge
  • Create BookmarkCreate Bookmark
  • Create Note or TagCreate Note or Tag
  • PrintPrint