Mikogo review

Mikogo is a Web collaboration tool which enables users to view and share desktops remotely, exchange files and grant or request remote keyboard and mouse control. Earlier this year it added support for Macs, making it truly cross-platform, allowing up to 10 participants to meet online without the expense of paying for a virtual host.

Free for professional, academic or personal use, Mikogo requires only that participants download the relevant software for Mac or PC then either invite others or wait to be invited to participate. The host will need to supply Mikogo with a valid email to receive a username and password, enter those details and the meeting starts. A unique 9-digit meeting ID is generated each time, which can be emailed to anyone taking part.

On a Mac all options can be activated via a small unobtrusive 'M' icon in the menu bar at the top of your screen, including the ability to start and join meetings. Other options include the ability to pause a meeting, switch presenters and perhaps best of all take 'remote control,' with permission, of a participants’ computer.

This is a useful addition for trouble shooting computer problems, training and learning or simply if you want to collaborate in real time online. A notification window keeps track of what's going on including the transferring of any files or documents, which can be defaulted to be your desktop so they are easy to find.

Macs and PCs can happily collaborate using the free tools found in Mikogo.

Mikogo uses a globally distributed server system, which chooses the best server for your meeting and provides Mikogo users with a quality Web conferencing experience. Part of Mikogo's screen sharing technology includes a 'Instant Screen Build-Up' feature, enhancing the participant's real-time screen sharing experience. The idea behind this is to display any screen changes on the participant's screen as and when screen data arrives, to ensure that screen updates are displayed as fast as possible.

Unfortunately this can seem a little jumpy and blocky, for example when flicking through images, but this settles down once the desktop you are viewing remains relatively calm. This preference can be switched off by unticking the checkbox under Application Selection, for a smoother although slightly slower update. Ultimately it is down to personal choice and in tests we left the option on.

We also loved the participant pointer, a simple but effective tool for highlighting and aiding discussions and demonstrations. As Mikogo for PC has been around a little longer it is more fully featured than the Mac version, although the makers say this will be rectified with future updates. We'd also like the ability to share audio natively, although for now iChat or Skype are fair bedfellows for Mikogo.

OUR VERDICT

For business meetings, creative collaborations, e-learning and diagnosing and addressing computer problems from afar, Mikogo proves an excellent choice. With minimal fuss and little in the way of a learning curve, users can be up and running within a minute or two without any long term commitment or cost. Add iChat or Skype for additional interactivity and you could be saving precious time and legwork toing and froing from appointments.

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