Web conferencing technologies are not standardized, which has reduced interoperability and transparency and increased platform dependence, security issues, cost and market segmentation. In 2003, the IETF established a working group to establish a standard for web conferencing, called "Centralized Conferencing (xcon)".[6] The planned deliverables of xcon include:


Web conferencing may be used as an umbrella term for various types of online collaborative services including web seminars ("webinars"), webcasts, and peer-level web meetings. It may also be used in a more narrow sense to refer only to the peer-level web meeting context, in an attempt to disambiguate it from the other types of collaborative sessions.[1] Terminology related to these technologies is inexact, and no generally agreed upon source or standards organization exists to provide an established usage reference.
In May 1995, PictureTel announced LiveShare Plus[15] as a general-use data collaboration product for Windows-based personal computers. The software allowed application sharing, user-granted control of a remote PC, shared whiteboard markup, file transfer, and text messaging. List price was given as $249 per computer. PictureTel referenced an agreement with Microsoft in its announcement press release, and a May 26, 1995 memo from Bill Gates to Microsoft executive staff and direct reports said "Our PictureTel screen sharing client allowing Window sharing should work easily across the Internet."[16]

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Unveiled in 1996 by InSoft Inc., CoolTalk was a multimedia software tool that let PC users view data displayed on a shared whiteboard, exchange real-time messages via a chat tool or speak with each other via a TCP/IP voice connection. The product worked with Microsoft Sound System-compatible audio boards and was available in a 14.4-kbit/s version or 28.8-kbit/s version. CoolTalk was later packaged with popular Web browsers of the time.[20] CoolTalk 14.4 and 28.8 sold for $49.95 and $69.95, respectively, in 1996.[11][21]
Presentation of visual materials most often is accomplished through one of two primary methodologies. The web conferencing software may show participants an image of the presenter's computer screen (or desktop). Again, depending upon the product, the software may show the entire visible desktop area or may allow selection of a physical area or application running on the presenter's computer. The second method relies on an upload and conversion process (most commonly consisting of Microsoft PowerPoint files, other Microsoft Office electronic documents, or Adobe PDF documents).
Depending on the technology being used, participants may speak and listen to audio over standard telephone lines or via computer microphones and speakers. Some products allow for use of a webcam to display participants, while others may require their own proprietary encoding or externally provided encoding of a video feed (for example, from a professional video camera connected via an IEEE 1394 interface) that is displayed in the session.

In April 1999, Vstream introduced the Netcall product for web conferencing as "a fee-based Internet software utility that lets you send business presentations and other graphic information via e-mail to a Vstream server. Vstream converts the content, again using streaming technology, and makes the presentation available for viewing by up to 1,200 people at a time."[28] Vstream changed the company name to Evoke Communications in 2000, with a further change to Raindance Communications in 2002. In February 2006, Raindance was acquired by the InterCall division of West Corporation.


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In February 1998, Starlight Networks[22] released StarLive! (the exclamation point being part of the product name).[23] The press release said "customers can access familiar Web browser interfaces to view live and pre-recorded corporate presentations, along with synchronized slides. End users can communicate directly with the presenter using real-time chat technology and other Web-based collaboration tools."
Customers know that private sessions allow them permission to ask endless questions and discuss their unique obstacles in a safe, constructive setting. You can build immense trust and loyalty through calls like this and transform customers into brand evangelists that double-duty as promotional machines for you. Thirty to 60-minute calls work great. You could even record these calls and repurpose them as products in the future. Cha-ching.
A trademark for the term WEBinar (first three letters capitalized) was registered in 1998 by Eric R. Korb (Serial Number 75478683, USPTO) and was reassigned to InterCall.[35] The trademark registration was cancelled in 2007. Learn.com filed a claim for the term "webinar" without regard to font or style in 2006 (Serial Number 78952304, USPTO). That trademark claim was abandoned in 2007[36] and no subsequent filing has been made.

In December 2003, Citrix Systems acquired Expertcity, giving it the GoToMyPC and GoToAssist products.[29] The acquired company was renamed as the Citrix Online division of Citrix Systems. In July 2004, Citrix Online released GoToMeeting as its first generic web conferencing product.[30] In June 2006, GoToWebinar was added, allowing additional registration and reporting functionality along with larger capacity in sessions.[31]
Depending on the technology being used, participants may speak and listen to audio over standard telephone lines or via computer microphones and speakers. Some products allow for use of a webcam to display participants, while others may require their own proprietary encoding or externally provided encoding of a video feed (for example, from a professional video camera connected via an IEEE 1394 interface) that is displayed in the session.
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