Editor's note: On October 13, 2005, WebEx changed the name of this service from MyWebEx PC to PCNow. This review has been revised accordingly, and we have adjusted the rating to reflect the lack of a free version of PCNow. (10/13/05)Known for its corporate Web meeting solutions, WebEx is targeting individual PC users in a big way with a tempting offer: powerful, secure, remote desktop access for less cost than most competing services. Simply go to the pcnow.webex.com Web site and, with a credit card in hand, create an account, and you can have complete control of your Windows PC system from anywhere in the world. Compared to and its $19.95-per-month price tag, PCNow, with its introductory price of $9.95 per month, is a huge bargain--a savings of $120 per year (regular PCNow service will cost $14.95 per month). PCNow also offers true color support, while GoToMyPC is still limited to a paltry 256 colors. If you telecommute only occasionally, we say check out PCNow. But the best deal is , which is free. Setup and installation of PCNow couldn't be easier, both on the host and client side. The first step is to go to the PCNow Web site and set up a new account. Then, log on to that account from the host PC and click Add Computer to automatically install the PCNow "agent" on the system.
Once installed, an icon in your system tray indicates whether your system is connected to WebEx's network. Right-click the icon and select Preferences to configure your host computer's options, including your password, whether to blank the screen and lock the keyboard when you connect remotely, and whether to limit access to specific applications or allow remote access to your complete system.
After setting PCNow, leave the host computer running, and from any Windows-based PC with an Internet connection, log on to the pcnow.webex.com site and click the Connect button next to the computer you wish to use (unlike GoToMyPC, the free version of PCNow lets you host up to 10 Windows-based computers). The remote client software then downloads; after it does, type in your password to connect, then open the screen, which exactly matches your host PC's desktop. Since PCNow supports true color display, all of your icons and graphics look just like they do when you're sitting in front of the host monitor. By comparison, GoToMyPC uses 256-bit color, so icons and colors appear raw.PCNow lets you control the host PC from a remote location, so you can run applications, access the network, and log in and out of an account. Of course, paying customers get some very useful add-ons.
Features within PCNow include a file-transfer utility downloads files back and forth between the two connected systems. (Otherwise, you'll have to use an e-mail client to transfer files by e-mailing them to yourself.) Remote printing lets you run an application on the host system (so that you can, say, view an Excel spreadsheet at work), yet print to your remote printer (say, at home). This handy feature saves you the trouble of transferring the file first, then having to open it on your remote PC.