VNC vs. Microsoft NetMeeting's Shared Desktop

Richard Harris rich "at" darkage.co.uk
Mon, 20 Aug 2001 11:14:27 +0000


Hi Dan,

> I installed VNC because I thought it was the only free program out
> there to remotely control my server.  I have the server on a Windows
> NT4 Server, and the viewers on 2 PCs running Win98SE.  Then, I found
> Microsoft NetMeeting's Shared Desktop.  I have compared the
> performance of VNC with Microsoft NetMeeting's Shared Desktop, and I
> have found the latter to be superior.  I get a better picture, a lower
> latency, generally the same features of VNC, plus you can issue a
> CTRL+ALT+DEL command to the server.  Before I do something I would
> regret, what reasons are there for me not to stay with NetMeeting, and
> uninstall VNC?

If you are a pure MS environment, then I guess you could argue the 
case for going along with Netmeeting. However, VNC has a couple 
of very good advantages over NM:

1. VNC is a very small program and can be configured so you can 
install it during the login script (win 9x boxes) or pushed to the PC 
(2000 and NT). I wouldn't like to install Netmeeting on a batch of 9x 
boxes via a login script. With VNC, I know I can do this and it's not 
a problem. 
I have VNC builds that are small enough to be sent down a modem 
and be installed (536kb for 9x! and that includes password and 
desktop config).

2. VNC development continues slowly but continually. The NM 
program *is* bundled with Windows, but as it's owned by MS, you 
won't get them to add a feature that you think is useful. On the 
other hand, VNC is open source and a number of modifications 
have come out since its release a few years ago.

3. The quality of the support. I know this sounds like blowing the 
trumpet here, but I'd say that you'd get better support on VNC than 
you would Netmeeting. There are a lot of ppl out there - mostly 
sysadmins - who use VNC, their experiences are bound to cover 
something you'll ask.

4. VNC isn't forced upon you. You may find that Windows XP + 1 
comes with a new version of NetMeeting that isn't compatable with 
your older PCs. VNC's alterations are designed so that they "can 
be used" as opposed to "must be". (tightVNC works just fine with 
VNC or Tridia).

So, if you find a version of VNC that fits your needs, stick with it. 
As MS release new versions of Windows, so VNC will develop to 
provide support on them.

Personally, I wouldn't go down the Netmeeting route. Ok, it's 
bundled with some version of Windows, but at the end of the day, 
its design and functionality aren't in control of the end users.... 

Additionally, I know which I'd rather debug - VNC has a few registry 
keys which are easily found and alerted accordingly. I wouldn't like 
to try and pick NetMeeting out of the registry.

You don't have to choose between VNC and NetMeeting. VNC has 
such a small footprint that you could install it on all your boxes and 
I doubt you'd notice the overhead. Compare that to an install of 
Netmeeting. :-)

VNC has some excellent add-ons out there too. VNC Commander 
gives you an easy to use GUI front end, or if you're good with web 
pages, it's easy to set up a web page will links to all your PCs on 
it. Click the link and this connects you to the target PC (subject to 
authentication).

Hope that helps,
Richard

email: rich "at" darkage.co.uk
web: http://www.darkage.co.uk/

"Service, price, quality: pick any two."
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