Unyte 2.5: Enhanced Desktop Sharing for Skype

Increased speed and remote assistance become standard features

Escalating a conversation from chat to voice is a fairly common protocol for Skype users. But when you want to share a desktop, WebDialogs’ Unyte for Skype has provided a convenient two-click means to escalate the conversation another level by launching a desktop sharing session. I’ve always thought of desktop sharing as the "third mode" of real time conversations reinforcing the voice and text conversation through cobrowsing of websites, creation of legal and marketing documents and viewing photographs or artwork amongst other collaborative activities that can benefit from desktop sharing.

During the Skype Developers Conference in mid-June, WebDialogs released from beta Unyte 2.5 with new features that not only increase the speed and versatility of desktop sharing activities but also allow you to launch a sharing session on a remote PC in order to, say, diagnose service issues or illustrate points being made in a sales call. I spent some time reviewing this new release with WebDialogs CEO Lou Guercia at the Developers Conference (those are our laptops sharing above). Having experienced desktop sharing’s evolution over the past 11 years, I found that Unyte has really hit all the hot buttons:

  • Speed: especially when using their new peer-to-peer viewing, screen refreshes are fast; one indication of this speed for me is the fact that they even transmit the wallpaper (often cut out due to speed issues).
  • Just as importantly Unyte 2.5 has no trouble handling the subtleties of sharing 32-bit graphics.
  • Share YouTube videos: Unyte’s new peer-to-peer viewer allows the viewing participant in a two party session to watch a YouTube video coming from the shared desktop; this does require both parties to have the Unyte client installed..

Unyte 2.5 runs in two modes:

  • Application Sharing: allows sharing of all or any subset of the applications running on your host Desktop. For instance, you can select a Firefox browser window and/or Power Point presentation while leaving you Outlook email and Skype chat sessions unexposed to the remote party. This has been the traditional mode for Unyte in previous versions but has been speed and color-depth enhanced in this version. During the session you can pass control of your desktop to a designated remote party. Unyte+, the premium service allows you to share your desktop with up to 25 remote users.
  • Remote Assistance is a new mode which allows a support or sales person to view a remote PC while diagnosing a problem or demonstrating a new product. The other (WIndows) PC simply needs a web browser as well as a means to receive the link, via either email or a chat window. The remote participant can optionally give you permission to run the remote PC.

In both modes remote parties can be either Skype contacts or non-Skype users. In both cases the key is to get the appropriate URL to the remote party, usually via an IM session (does not have to be Skype) or via an email. A verbal reading of the information is also available.

Viewing of a shared desktop is always available via an Internet browser, such as Internet Explorer, Firefox or Safari. (Yes, you can view Unyte sessions on a Mac.) However, if you are sharing a desktop, you must have either the Unyte application installed or download an Active X component or Java Virtual Machine to manage your sharing activity when you click on the sharing URL.

During sessions you can vary the "share quality" and introduce annotation as well as vary the image size within your browser to see either a scaled or actual size image of the shared desktop (with appropriate ribbon bars)..

In a session involving a shared desktop and one viewer where both parties have installed the Unyte client, the viewer has two options:

  • view in a browser window as has been traditional with Unyte or
  • use the Unyte peer-to-peer (P2P) viewer to obtain the optimum combination of speed and image quality.

The web browser based viewer uses a web server, while P2P creates a direct connection between the host and viewer.

The basic Unyte allows 1:1 sharing at no cost and provides an opportunity to learn more about desktop sharing and how it can benefit your Skype activities. The premium Unyte+ service allows application sharing with multiple viewers (standard subscriptions are available for 5, 10 and 25 users, including the host who is the only user required to have Skype).

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About Jim Courtney

Bringing over thirty years' experience in the sales, marketing and management of cutting edge technology businesses.
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