Adobe Connect 8: Simple Yet Powerful Web Conferencing

Adobe (s adbe) has announced the availability of the latest version of its Flash-based enterprise web conferencing tool, Connect. Boasting a completely redesigned user interface, Adobe Connect 8 should prove to be easier to use for both presenters and conference attendees. It also has some enhancements to existing tools, support for higher-resolution video and two-way voice calls and a new desktop client.

Connect’s UI was probably due for an overhaul. The product has actually been around for quite a while now — it was originally called Macromedia Breeze, which was introduced in 2003. Over the years, new features have been added to it, which led to a UI that, while not exactly difficult to use, perhaps wasn’t laid out in the most logical fashion. The new UI is greatly streamlined and groups related features, meaning that it should be quicker to carry out common tasks, and should make it easier for new users to get to grips with the app.

There have also been enhancements to Connect’s existing built-in collaboration tools, such as the the notes, Q&A and whiteboard “pods,” which should make them simpler to use, while also adding useful new functionality.

Another feature that should make Connect 8 easier to use is the new AIR-based desktop client, Adobe Connect Desktop. It enables users to manage their meetings from their desktop, as well as providing a tool to search for recorded meetings that can be watched online or offline (useful for catching up on webinars while in the air, for example).

As well as the improvements to the UI, Connect also has some useful new features. The new two-way Universal Voice (VoIP) system means that attendees can now choose to use either a telephone or their computer’s microphone and speakers to communicate. It also allows presenters to bridge the audio from any audio conferencing provider into an Adobe Connect room; handy if attendees are based in locations where dialing into the conference would be expensive.

Connect’s video capabilities have been enhanced, too; it now supports video with a resolution of up to 640 x 480. It it can also interface with existing SIP/H.264 corporate telepresence systems; the presenter can now choose to bring a live audio/video broadcast stream from an existing telepresence system directly into a meeting room.

Adobe Connect 8 is available from late November as a hosted, on premise or managed solution; there’s no upgrade cost to existing customers.

Let us know what you think of Adobe Connect 8 in the comments.

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