Wednesday, September 26, 2012

GoToMeeting vs. Mikogo for desktop sharing and web conferencing

I've used GoToMeeting for years to provide remote support to Dynamics GP customers and do some remote presentations to small groups.  It has worked very well overall and has done a great job of meeting my needs.  While more expensive than Microsoft's offering, I can confidently say that GoToMeeting is vastly superior to Live Meeting, and I also like it much better than WebEx.

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.


Mikogo offers a unique "URL Push" feature, that lets you send a URL to attendees, which can automatically open that URL in their web browser if they accept the link.  This can be done via chat in GoToMeeting, but the URL Push makes the process simpler for the user.

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 appear to yet (see update below) have a Voice Over IP audio conferencing option like GoToMeeting, so if you do a lot of international sessions, that may be a drawback.  All of my non-US customers used the VoIP option in GoToMeeting, so I would have to use Skype or some other VoIP option if I were to use Mikogo for those sessions.

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.

http://www.precipioservices.com

6 comments:

SQL Blogger said...

Does Mikogo allow you to switch presenters?

Does the paid version of Mikogo offer any advantages over the free version?

Thanks for the comparison -- I use GotoMeeting all the time and have used Mikogo in the past but didn't like it's "slowness" compared to GotoMeeting. However, I'm getting tired of paying 40/month for Gotomeeting.

Steve Endow said...

Hi,

Yes, Mikogo allows you to switch presenters, just like GoToMeeting. The overall experience is very similar to GTM.

The free Mikogo display a few unobtrusive messages when launching and during the session indicating that it is the free version and for personal use only. (Guiltware) Other than that, I believe it is fully functional.

I'll have to use it a little more to see if the speed difference is acceptable. The excellent performance of GoToMeeting is one area where the Citrix option really shines.

I am in the same boat--$40 a month for GTM vs. $13 a month for Mikogo. Pretty tempting if it works well.

It seems that there are a few other web conference / desktop sharing options, but I haven't looked into any others yet.

Thanks,

Steve

Andrew_Mikogo said...

Hi Steve,

Thanks for taking the time to try and review our software. It's really a very comprehensive write up and I enjoyed reading it! Great to hear that you liked the profile manager and application selection. The profile manager is still a relatively new feature. Another new feature of Mikogo you may like to check out is the HTML Viewer - this is an alternative option for your clients to join your meetings without any downloads and no ActiveX, Java or Flash. They just join from their browser and it works on any browser, including on Windows, Mac, Linux and mobile devices.
Also regarding VOIP, the dev team is in fact working on this and we hope to release a beta version soon. Testers are welcome! :-) If you're interested, feel free to get in contact with me or stay tuned on our FB or Twitter.

Thanks again!

Andrew Donnelly
The Mikogo Team
adonnelly(at)mikogo.com

Steve Endow said...

Hi Andrew,

Thanks for the update. I've updated the post to include a mention of the HTML Viewer. I tried it during my testing, but forgot to note it in my post.

I've also updated my note about VoIP to indicate that it will be added to Mikogo soon.

Thanks!

Steve Endow

Andrew_Mikogo said...

Hi Steve,

I did not mean to make more work for you and get you to update the blog post - but thanks for including that. Cool that you tested the HTML Viewer on your iPhone! :-)

Thanks again for your post and feedback!

Andrew
The Mikogo Team

Shaun marsh said...

Fantastic article regarding Gotomeeting Vs Mikogo. I have used both web conferencing tools and they are good ones. Additionally, one may even deploy on premise RHUB web conferencing appliances in order to conduct webinars, web conferences, online meetings etc.