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New server lets many see many

White Pine's MeetingPoint videoconferencing software will work with Microsoft's NetMeeting and Intel's Internet VideoPhone.

White Pine Software (WPNE) will soon release MeetingPoint, the next generation of the company's videoconferencing reflector software.

The company's previous server offerings worked only with its own CU-SeeMe client software, but MeetingPoint will let multiple users of any H.323-based videoconferencing client, including Microsoft's NetMeeting and Intel's Internet VideoPhone, interact in video and audio and share a text-only "whiteboard."

In its current implementation, the H.323 standard lacks basic security such as password protection. Because of this, MeetingPoint will require an extra step from non-CU-SeeMe users if they want to join a secure videoconference. Before joining a conference, people without CU-SeeMe clients will have to access a special Web page and send a password to the MeetingPoint server to have their IP address enabled.

Even though MeetingPoint supports any H.323 client, CU-SeeMe users will still enjoy tighter integration with the product, according to director of product management Andrew Hally.

MeetingPoint also supports IP multicasting across local- and wide-area networks with multicast-enabled switches and routers. Dial-up users and users with non-multicast client software cannot take advantage of multicasting, however.

MeetingPoint has a Web-based user interface and runs on Internet Explorer and Navigator 3.0 or higher. Administrators can use a Java applet to distribute network resources across multiple MeetingPoint servers if balancing bandwidth across their LAN or WAN is a priority. Administrators can also control the number of participants in a conference.

MeetingPoint will run on Windows NT, Solaris, Irix, HP-UX, and four other Unix platforms. It will be available for 10, 25, 50, and 100 users and range in price from $1,995 to $10,000. White Pine also hopes to sell MeetingPoint to Internet service providers who plan to offer videoconferencing services. Prices for ISPs will be higher, in the $20,000 to $25,000 range, although the company is looking to cut revenue-sharing deals that would lower the upfront price, according to Hally.

White Pine has sold 300,000 copies of its CU-SeeMe desktop videoconference software, but with the entry of behemoths Microsoft and Intel into the market, the company is looking to the server market for revenue as it tries to rebound from first-quarter losses.