For a while now I have been an ardent user of the Microsoft Beta downloads and Microsoft Research downloads sites.
Microsoft has a variety of software available there and several months ago (if not longer) I downloaded and installed a Beta version of Shared View; now it is out of Beta.
Shared View integrates with your Office suite and I can attest that this works from Office XP and upwards (I haven’t tried older versions) so now the real question; what does it do?
Shared View is for those of us who want to meet without meeting and have the option of reviewing documentation together. It is a simple and elegant application that seems to incur minimal resource usage on a PC or to one’s Internet connection (subject to number of users and size of handouts).
Firstly, you are going to need a Windows Live ID (aka a Microsoft Passport). You can either Share an Office Document via the add-on toolbar to each Office application or open a session via the Shared View application. Then you simply send an invite to the current session or schedule a meeting via Outlook and paste the invite to whomever you wish to meet (the function to do this is either copy the invite or paste directly into an email but since I use my calendar in Outlook to schedule meetings I hope this feature is integrated more fully in the next version).
The layout is simple: a silver horizontal toolbar at the top of your screen with drop-downs to indicate participants, handouts (documents for review), share (the option to allow Remote sharing of any open Windows or your whole Desktop) and a Messaging free text area.
Convergence has always been a pathway to creating killer apps but here Microsoft seems to have scored a bulls-eye.
The integration of Remote Desktop technology, Messenger and a scaled down local Sharepoint all of which integrates smoothly into Office (even to the extent of using Tracked Changes) makes for a worthy integrated solution for those of us who don’t wish to send out several copies of one document and then have to remember what everyone said during the meeting over the phone and merge these documents back together; particularly when no two people have Track Changes setup the same way.
Just for the absence of these several copies to merge each being sent back to my email I am smiling each time I use Shared View.
Frankly, Shared View is rapidly becoming my online meeting dashboard when actual work has to be done. Now Microsoft just needs to integrate VOIP and speech to text and away we go.