What you need, What you can Expect, Etc.
What is Netmeeting?
Netmeeting is a conferencing client developed by Microsoft that allows users to interact in real time over the internet. Most people call it a "video conferencing client", but it is actually capable of much more than that. It includes:
What Do I Need?
A PC running a Windows variant, such as Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows NT 4.0, Windows 2000 or Windows XP. You should have Internet Explorer 4.0 or better installed as well. Note that Windows XP and 2000 come with Netmeeting already installed.
The PC should a reasonably current machine, such as a Pentium II 233 MHZ or better. A slower machine may work, but audio and video performance will suffer. It should have a decent amount of Ram (64 MB or better). A sound card is not mandantory, but for audio conferencing, some sort of audio interface is necessary.
Netmeeting uses the Videoconferencing standard .h323. There are other products that use this standard as well, including a solution for Macintosh users. See the section "For Mac Users" at the end.
A Microphone and Headphones
If you want to participate in an audio conference, you need a microphone. You need not spend a lot of money. A inexpensive SoundBlaster compatable (this is important) microphone (less than $10.00) and a inexpensive pair of headphones (like the kind that can be used with a Walkman) is all you need. You can also opt for a headset that has the microphone built in; this is all a matter of preference.
Using headphones instead of a pair of speakers is preferred, since the microphone will pick up what is coming over the speakers, and will lead to a strange, and disconcerting "echo" effect.
A Network connection
While it is possible to use some functions in NetMeeting with a 56k modem, a faster network connection is preferable. For Video or screen sharing, use at least a Dual ISDN connection (112 kbs). A Cable Modem or DSL connection is perfectly adequate for any of the features in NetMeeting when at home. Most campuses have at least 10 mb/s connections, which is good enough to do decent low frame rate video and good audio, as well as all the other features in NetMeeting.
There are some additional issues concerning use of NetMeeting iin special situations, such as with a firewall, or through a home networking router. A brief outline on the issues is being written, and will appear shortly.
You will need the Netmeeting software itself. If you are currently running Windows 2000 or XP, you do not need to install it; it comes with the standard install. Under Windows XP, you may need to "unhide Netmeeting to launch it directly:
Go to your Start menu and select "run". Type in "conf.exe" (no quotes). The Netmeeing setup wizard will then start, and ask you whether you would like shortcuts created (yes you do).
For Windows 2000, look in your Start menu under Accessories/Communication to launch it. You should also confirm that you have at least version 4.0 of Internet Explorer installed. You can get the latest version of Internet Explorer at:
Otherwise, you will need to download it. Microsoft's main NetMeeting page is at:
and the link to download it is at:
It's also recommended (but not necessary) that you install MSN messenger. Messenger is an "instant messaging" application, similar to AOL instant messenger, which allows people to chat online. MSN Messenger is particularly useful as it makes it very easy for two people to "find" each other online, and set up a NetMeeting Conference. You will need to set up a "Passport" (better known as User ID) for yourself via MSN's site, but it costs nothing, and you get an additional email account as a bonus. You can get MSN Messenger at:
It will ask you to set up an account for yourself, but if you already have a HotMail account, you can use that as your "Passport".
After you get everything set up, you should ask other folks that you want to "NetMeet" with what their MSN userid is. You can add those into your MSN Messenger application, and when you are online, it will let you see if your friends are online, as well as let them see if you are online. This makes setting up a NetMeeting session very simple.
Getting Started via a conferencing server
We are running a test Conferencing server that we will be using as the primary way to meet online.
When you first run NetMeeting, you will need to set it up. This is very straighforward. Pay close attention if it asks you for your connection speed -- this is important, and may prevent you from seeing a conference. If it asks you during the install whether or not you want to log into a directory server on startup, you may want to say "No", especially if you have not set up a MSN Passport. It is recommended that you make the following changes to your setup. First, select "Options" under the "Tools" menu:
You should start with these settings. Note it is not necessary to put "kvetch.nrrc.ncsu.edu" in your directory field since we are not logging into a directory. Please put your name in the right fields, though. This is how others will idenify you.
Starting a Netmeeting via MSN Messenger
To set up a NetMeeting Sesssion, you should first log in via MSN Messenger, to let others know that you are available. MSN Messenger installs a little icon in your system tray, on the far right hand side. It looks like a little group of people (sorry, working on a screen shot that will be included shortly).
Click on it, and log in. After a few moments, you will have a dialog that will list yourself, and any other people that you can added to your list of favorites. If they are online, they will be highlighted; double clicking on them will bring up a chat session, where you can chat via text.
You can then invite a person to a NetMeeting session. Look under the "Tools" menu, and select "Send an Invitation" using Netmeeting. The other person will be noitfied that you have invited them. After they accept the invitation, the session will begin.
For Mac Users
Unfortunately, there is not a version of NetMeeting for the Mac. If you are running "classic" Mac OS, such as Mac OS 8 or 9, your best bet is VideoLink Pro from Smith Micro:
It will handle .h323 video and audio conferencing, but not file or application sharing.
For Mac OS X users, there are a couple of NetMeeting-compatible solutions that are open source, and free. OphoneX only handles video and audio conferencing, but not application sharing or file transfers. Still, it's a servicable solution that is easy to use.
You can get the binaries for OphoneX at:
And learn more about it and it's sister, GnomeMeeting for Mac OS X at:
For Linux Users
While we have not tested it yet, GnomeMeeting (http://www.gnomemeeting.org/) is advertised to work with NetMeeting. Since it is using the same code base as OphoneX, it is very likely that it works similarly well
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