Although it is a great service, I do occasionally have some problems using GoToMeeting. This morning I had a GoToMeeting session scheduled with a new client. We both dialed into the GTM conference number and were on the call, but when the client clicked on the GoToMeeting link that I had provided, he said nothing happened. Customers sometimes do have some issue clicking on the meeting link--whether it is a browser issue, or a problem downloading or installing the GoToMeeting client app.
So I asked my client to open a web browser to navigate directly to www.gotomeeting.com. When he tried that, he said nothing happened. The web browser would just 'spin' and he couldn't connect to the web site. He even tried entering the IP address in the browser address bar, but he still couldn't connect. Obviously this isn't GoToMeeting's fault. There was apparently something with the customer's network, firewall, or proxy that was preventing any connection to the GoToMeeting web site. Since things like this happen, it doesn't hurt to have a backup.
Quite a while ago, a colleague told me about a free GoToMeeting alternative called Mikogo, and he spoke very highly of it. I gave it a brief try and saw that it seemed to work fine, but since I normally used GoToMeeting, I didn't have much need for it. Well, this morning I was scrambling for an alternative to GoToMeeting so that I could help my client.
After several Google searches to remember the name, I found Mikogo and downloaded the latest version. In just a few minutes, I had signed up for the free account, had a meeting started, and a few seconds later, the client was connected to the meeting and showing his desktop. Mikogo worked great and really saved the day.
Now that I've used it once and taken a few minutes to check out some of its features, I thought I would provide a review and compare it to GoToMeeting.
The full Mikogo client application is about 9.5 MB, so it may take a little while to download, but it installs very quickly and easily. Attendees who join your meeting can download and install the "Connection Program", which is about 5 MB and runs on the remote machine without requiring an installation. Mikogo also has a Join a Session web page that lets an attendee select an HTML Viewer option, allowing them skip any downloads and join the session right in their browser window (view only). I tested this on my iPhone and it worked great--I was able to see my desktop session on my phone and the refresh rate and speed seemed very good.
When Mikogo launches, a small, simple control panel is displayed.
Interestingly, Mikogo allows you to create and save different session "profiles" that let you to specify options like whether or not to display your task bar or whether you want to allow participants to see file transfer options or record the session. For simple customer support sessions, it may be preferred to turn off many of the options to keep things simple and easy for you and the user. I found this option interesting and appealing.
Like GoToMeeting, Mikogo uses a 9 digit "Session ID", so it is simple to share with meeting attendees. And like GoToMeeting, Mikogo allows you to create a new session at any time, or have multiple scheduled sessions. Mikogo also has both a Chat and Whiteboard feature, very similar to GoToMeeting.
Similar to GoToMeeting, Mikogo allows you to choose which applications are visible when you are presenting. But unlike GoToMeeting, which only lets you select one application at a time, Mikogo lets you selectively enable or disable the display of multiple applications. This is a great feature.
So if I want to show Word, Excel, and Dynamics GP, but want to hide Outlook, Live Messenger, my desktop wallpaper, and even my desktop icons, I can do so by clicking individual checkboxes. And unlike GoToMeeting, the presenter can display his Mikogo control panel to the attendees, and vice versa. This is very helpful when you need to show a user which button to click to perform an action on the control panel--something that I regularly struggle with when I ask clients to click on the "Give Keyboard and Mouse" control option in GoToMeeting. This multiple application display feature is very clever and very nicely implemented. Mikogo also supports multiple monitors, like GoToMeeting.
One significant feature that Mikogo offers that is not available with GoToMeeting is File Transfer. The lack of file transfer is one weakness with GoToMeeting. Although I don't need to use it very often, I've had plenty of situations where it would have been very convenient to transfer a file as part of the remote session, rather than having to use e-mail or FTP. This is a big plus if you are doing a lot of interactive work and need to transfer a data file, SQL script, documents, etc.
Like GoToMeeting, text copy and paste works between the presenter and attendee sessions, so you can copy and paste text in both directions.
Mikogo provides screen scaling and resizing, so displaying smaller or larger screen resolutions isn't a problem. It also has a handy zoom / magnify feature in cases where the presenter has a much higher screen resolution. The screen scaling was relatively good, although it didn't seem quite as sharp or as readable as GoToMeeting when a high resolution presentation is scaled down to display on a lower resolution display. But it is still very good compared to other services I've tried, and Mikogo even provides a Session Profile option to increase or decrease the picture quality, presumably for performance.
In terms of drawbacks of Mikogo compared to GoToMeeting, so far I've only found two small ones.
First, it appears that the screen refresh 'speed' with Mikogo is slower than GoToMeeting. GoToMeeting seems to be better at quickly updating the cursor location, and it seems to be faster updating the overall display. The Mikogo speed is perfectly acceptable, but since I'm used to GoToMeeting, I immediately noticed the slightly slower speed. I was testing with two machines on my wireless network, but obviously Internet connection speeds will vary by session and participants with any web conferencing solution, so real world performance may vary.
Second, a minor difference is that the Mikogo client doesn't display conference calling options by default. They do offer international telephone audio conferencing options, similar to GoToMeeting, which you can configure to be displayed in the Mikogo client, but those don't automatically appear like they do in each GoToMeeting. More importantly, Mikogo does not
UPDATE: Mikogo has informed me that they will be adding a native VoIP voice conferencing feature, with beta testing starting very soon.
With all of that said, I think Mikogo is a very impressive, very capable web conferencing and desktop sharing solution that can compete fairly well with GoToMeeting. I would personally choose it over Microsoft Live Meeting any day without question.
So now let's talk about pricing. Mikogo used to be an exclusively free offering. But they have recently transitioned to a "freemium" model. This means that they offer their product for free for personal use, but kindly ask that you buy a subscription if you are using it for business or commercial use.
They have several "single user" subscription options, depending on how many participants you need in your sessions. At this time, their "Basic" plan is $13 per month, which allows up to 3 simultaneous participants per session. The "Pro" plan is $19 per month, and allows up to 15 participants.
$13 per month seems like a great price considering how much functionality Mikogo provides.
They also offer "multi-user" plans for organizations that want to share a pool of subscriptions, although you'll have to do the math on whether this is any cheaper for your organization.
As a comparison, GoToMeeting is currently $49 per user per month, or $468 for a year. That's $312 more per year than a Basic Mikogo subscription.
If you are on a budget, that's quite a difference. It's enough that when my GoToMeeting renewal comes up, I'm going to have to seriously consider whether I should switch.
I've only used Mikogo "for real" once, so I would have to use it a lot more to see if there were any other quirks or drawbacks, but if you are shopping for a web conferencing or desktop sharing solution, I would definitely recommend checking out Mikogo.
Steve Endow is a Dynamics GP Certified Trainer and Dynamics GP Certified IT Professional in Los Angeles. He is also the owner of Precipio Services, which provides Dynamics GP integrations, customizations, and automation solutions.