Scott Hanselman

How to Collaborate with Remote Employees with Office Communicator 2007 R2

October 06, 2009 Comment on this post [13] Posted in Microsoft | Remote Work | Tools
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18737888 (1) Our business administrator emailed me just now:

Can you please send me instructions on how team members can share their desktop with you while they are presenting?  I may want to include this in my meeting requests for them.

This is our #1 challenge as remote employees - the 10 to 15 minutes of messing around with technology at the beginning of the meeting so we can really engage. I'm writing this post so I can point people to it when I setup meetings internally at Microsoft.

LiveMeeting is great, but sometimes it feels like a hassle. It's that tiny hassle that can keep you, as the local person, from setting it up, and it's the Remote Employee really suffers. However, if you've got Office Communicator, doing remote collaboration takes literally seconds to setup. Please, love your remote employees.

Here's a brief (Microsoft-centric) How-To that covers your options:

  • How to Share Your Desktop to People with Office Communicator 2007 R2
    • And include Video
  • How to Share Your Desktop to Remote People who don't have Office Communicator

How to Share Your Desktop to People with Office Communicator 2007 R2

There's a number of ways, so pick the right one for you. When you're just talking to less than 16 people or so (not an unreasonable number and fairly typical) just:

  • Double-click on one person's name in Office Communicator to start a chat.
  • image
  • Drag other people you want into that first chat window.
  • Click the Share button.
    Note: If you have multiple monitors and you just want to share one, click the down arrow to the right and select the monitor you want to share.

And, to include Video...

imageIf you've got a webcam plugged in, you can click the video icon at any time to add video to the conversation. If you don't have a webcam, but you are in a room with a Microsoft Roundtable, just plugin the Roundtable before you start the chat. Then you'll be able to share video. The Roundtable will take care of showing the current speaker.

How to Share Your Desktop to Remote People who don't have Office Communicator

Sometimes you might want to share your desktop to up to 15 people where some don't have Office Communicator, either because they are external to the company or they're at home, etc. You can always use SharedView to share your desktop.

You install SharedView easily here and it won't mess up your machine. SharedView has an advantage over other sharing systems as it allows each attendee their own mouse pointer with their name over it. This makes it easy for folks to say "I mean this..." while simultaneously pointing.

As the presenter, after running SharedView you:

  • Click the large menu ball in the upper-left then "Start a Session." You'll want to log in with a Windows Live ID (Passport) .
  • You can copy/paste the invitation instructions and email them to your attendees, OR even easier: Just tell your attendees your Windows Live ID and ask them to sign in, then "Join a Session" and enter the presenter/host's Live ID.
  • As the presenter, click "Share"...
    then scroll all the way to the bottom and select Share Entire Desktop then Press Start.

The big gun is always Live Meeting, but it's really not necessary for most day to day meetings when the collaboration tools are built into Office Communicator.

Hope this helps.

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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October 07, 2009 0:35
In order to make live meeting sharing a little easier I have setup some vanity urls to ease the pain. I point those urls to a meeting that is setup for a OnGoing meeting that is always available. For instance I would setup a url so that I can easily hand out that url to attendees and that url will redirect to the attendee portion of the live meeting.
October 07, 2009 4:51
Scott, I'm curious how you juggle sharing the desktop with a video link. Do you split the screen, use two monitors, or just switch back and forth? It seems like you would want the whole screen for both the video and the desktop.
October 07, 2009 11:35
Zack - When I'm sharing my desktop, I keep video and fast moving content on another screen. When someone is sharing their screen to me, the video is in one corner and the screen is next to it. Unfortunately Communicator won't let me "detach" the video and make it full screen (at least not that I can figure out) so sometimes I make two sessions or mix tools so I *can* have my cake and eat it too.
October 07, 2009 16:39
I couldn't figure this out in a minute or two of poking around with Google, so I'll ask the obvious question here, and hopefully someone can help: What IS Office Communicator?

I see from Wikipedia that it's a proprietary IM client and from the MS Office website that Communicator is somehow tied to MS Office, but how do I get a copy of Communicator? Does it come bundled with Office 2007? Is it free (I don't think so)? Is it a "stand-alone" purchase, similar to Visio?

October 07, 2009 17:21
@Jon - Here is a link to the Office Communicator page on Microsoft's website. From the description, it appears you need Office Communicator Server to really get anything out of it, but the desktop software is available to purchase for $31.00. (According to this page.)
October 07, 2009 17:45
What does it mean if the Share button is missing from Office Communicator? Is this something that is controlled on the server?
October 07, 2009 18:59
Nice post.

But "business administrator"?? Is "admin" no longer a PC term any more? Heaven forbid, assistant. Or the dreaded "s" word.

You know there is a problem with your job role if every few years we all have to come up with a new title to be more PC ...
October 07, 2009 20:05
I'm using skype for years with collegues and desktop sharing really cannot be any easier then with skype.
October 07, 2009 21:10
If there share button is missing, you have Office Communicator 2007, *not* R2. You just need the upgrade.

Skype is awesome, yes, I use that sometimes also.

Dawg - Admins still exist and they are admins. They are VERY different from Business Administrators who usually have MBAs and focus on literally Running The Business.

JonS - Office Communicator is part of the whole Exchange thing. Basically it's corporate IM and everyone on Exchange and on the domain gets a "free" IM account. Then you can hook it up to your phone system, video, etc.
October 07, 2009 22:19
Nope, the share button is missing and Help > About clearly states "Microsoft Office Communicator 2007 R2 :)
October 08, 2009 20:35

We used this extensively at my last client, but we found that we had an annoying flicker when sharing. All the desktops were Windows XP with dual monitor setups. The graphics cards were some low-profile NVidia with dual monitor support (not sure the exact model #).

Have you ever noticed this?

Another thing I wanted to note is that it would be AWESOME if SharedView had a Mac client. Desktop sharing in a VM on a Mac is not a good experience :)
October 09, 2009 23:55
@Scott - Office Communicator is part of the 'Unified Communications' thing which consists of Exchange, Live Meeting and Office Communications Server. These are licensed differently so having exchange does not mean having free IM for everyone. If you do have Unified Communications licenses then yes, you can have internal IM for everyone, along with other possible features (federation over the Internet with other compatible systems, PublicIM connectivity [may have some additional cost but is really cool].

Steven Peck
November 17, 2009 14:37
I also confirm that the magic Share Button is missing from Office Communicator 2007 R2! I am using English version. Is there something needs enabling at the Office Communications Server 2007 R2-side?

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.