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Macromedia updates Web conferencing product

The applications maker adds new collaboration features to its Breeze software, as the Web conferencing market gains renewed attention.

Macromedia announced an update to its Breeze Web conferencing software on Monday, adding new collaboration features.

Breeze Live 4.0 offers new tools for holding meetings over the Web, including the ability to conduct instant polls among conference attendees and file transfer capabilities for sharing documents and other content.

Macromedia began the Breeze line early last year when it acquired software maker Presedia, which specialized in tools for online delivery of presentations based on Microsoft's PowerPoint. Breeze initially was focused on delivering training and educational materials online. But Macromedia has since expanded it into more of a general tool for delivering online presentations.

The Web conferencing market, dominated by specialist WebEx, has gained new attention recently, as budget cuts and security concerns have prompted businesses to cut down on travel. Microsoft last year introduced Live Meeting, a Web conferencing service based on technology it acquired from PlaceWare.

Macromedia has touted Breeze as a useful addition to technology most companies already have--PowerPoint for creating presentations and Macromedia's widespread Flash Player for delivering interactive content through a Web browser.

"The best thing about Breeze is it's very easy to use, because it leverages existing technologies," said Leesa Lee, senior product manager for Breeze. "We maintain PowerPoint as the point where you do the authoring--and we use the Flash Player almost every PC already has installed."

Upgrades in version 4.0 include the ability to use the Breeze meeting space to share media files and documents, such as those based on Flash Paper, a new technology for creating simple online documents based on Flash. The new Breeze also includes tools for automatically recording and cataloging meetings and whiteboard features that allow live drawings to be added to presentations.

"We're really going beyond Web conferencing," Lee said. "We're letting people create rich presentations."