RealTime IT News

Microsoft Extends Live Meeting Options

Microsoft added three new payment options to its Office Live Meeting service and changed the name of its service packages to "more closely align with the current Microsoft Office name structure," officials announced in a statement Wednesday.

Live Meeting, a multimedia chat room that features whiteboard, online polling and application sharing capabilities among other things, was known originally as PlaceWare Conference Center after the company acquired PlaceWare in May 2003. Its name changed to Office Live Meeting in time for its launch in September 2003 to align itself with the Office name brand, officials said at the time. Now the Office Live Meeting Presenter and Premier editions have been renamed to Standard and Professional Editions, respectively.

In addition to the name play, Microsoft added new payment options to its Live Meeting subscription service. To date, the service has been billed on a shared seat and per-minute basis. Users can now choose from three payment options depending on their needs.

The Named user model allows a group of users (up to 15) to attend meetings throughout the month at one rate, even if they use the service more than scheduled. The Room model rents rooms of a specific size designed for companies that only occasionally need to conduct meetings. The Monthly minutes model allows users to pay for one month's usage with discounts given for more use, much like the prepaid minutes offered for cell phones.

Pricing isn't available for the new subscription rates at its Live Meeting Web site, though the pricing page does indicate the per-minute, per customer rate is 35 cents.

Officials said the new service rates were the result of customer usage and acquisition patterns. Dustin Grosse, Microsoft's real-time collaboration business unit general manager of sales, said in a statement the company "is strongly committed to creating more flexible ways for our customers to take advantage of and adopt the latest in online meeting technology."

Microsoft offers a 30-day free trial of the Office Live Meeting service for up to 10 people.