Pixion has announced that it is bringing its Web conferencing server PictureTalk 4.0 to Mac OS X, giving customers the option of installing on Windows, Solaris and Mac.

PictureTalk 4.0, offered as a hosted application or available for installation on the customer premise, is a Web conferencing-only product that competes with the likes of WebEx and Placeware. The software allows a presenter to share slides, documents and views of nearly any application that runs on a Windows, Solaris or Mac via a native PictureTalk client. Meeting attendees participate with a locally installed client or via a Java applet. Customers provide their own telephone conferencing or can use a built-in, proprietary voice-over-IP option for communicating with attendees of the conference.

Content is shared using a "capture window" on the presenter's machine. Anything inside the resizable window, be it a part of a document or an entire application, is shared with the audience. The PictureTalk server collects the information from the presenter's capture window and delivers to each attendee, rather than the presenter's PC having to send the data to each attendee individually, says Charles Orlando, director of marketing at Pixion.

Traffic lights "The capture frame is colour coded - it turns green when all attendees have received the screen, and yellow while it's transmitting," Orlando says. "It goes red when the presenter takes it 'off the air' to do behind the scenes stuff."

By installing the PictureTalk ECS (Enterprise Conference Server) in-house, customers have greater control over content than they would with a public service such as WebEx. Pixion includes Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) encryption for conferences that extend beyond the firewall.

"As IT gets more involved in the adoption of Web conferencing, they realize there is a lot of ability to send data in and out of (their) firewall, and they want to get a tight grip on what's going on," says David Alexander, industry manager for conferencing and collaboration at the analyst firm Frost & Sullivan.

In addition to presentation and application sharing, PictureTalk also includes text chat, whiteboard, annotation and polling functionality. The server can be integrated with SMTP e-mail servers and LDAP directories.

The Mac OS X version of PicutreTalk 4.0 will be available in August. For those that want to host the product themselves, pricing starts at US$6,625 for a 10-concurrent-user licence.