Application Sharing with MSN Messenger

A couple of weeks ago, one of our client’s developers introduced Daniel and I to a surprisingly useful, business-related, feature of MSN Messenger. Having been asked to extend a feature that was not implemented by us, we were having trouble with the set-up and had to call him for what turned out to be a multi-step (more than 10 actually) process of how to perform just one use-case.

Rather than send us written instructions, he asked us to log onto their network from their laptop at Intelliware and invited us to share applications through MSN Messenger. It was as simple as that! We watched as he swiftly moved between starting the client up, stopping several times during the use case to toggle values in property files and stopping and re-starting services etc. We all agreed that there was no way that the forty-five minute session could be captured on paper without a lot of back-and-forth.

However, my excitement to use this feature was mildly squashed for a couple of reasons:

  • It seems that sharing cannot be initiated from the more popular Windows Live Messenger application; the initiator must log in from the vanilla Windows Messenger version.
  • Also, depending on the participants’ (usually, the initiator’s) firewall and network security settings, the sharing feature can be rendered useless (Thanks, Kevin H.).

I still think it’s a very useful feature if one is remotely connected to their client’s network. Not only did we not have to bother Sonia with setting up a web meeting, but we also didn’t have to sit on the phone describing how our respective systems were behaving and sending property files and screen shots back and forth via email. It also beats a 3-hour commute, that’s for sure!


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