Yuuguu/Skype Combo Adds ScreenShare/Collaboration to Voice/IM

Manchester, U.K.-based Yuuguu today announced the release of its Yuuguu for Skype beta, which allows Skype users to now share their computer screens with friends and colleagues, in addition to conducting audio conversations, sending instant messages, and more.

Joining the ranks of downloadable IP-based communications/collaboration apps with peculiar, trendy-sounding names (viz, Skype, dimdim, Yugma, Jajah, et al.), Yuuguu uses Java to eliminate the necessity for meeting participants to download a proprietary client. It functions within an ordinary browser; only the host needs access to Yuuguu.

Skype is not a requirement for Yuuguu; the company is a global audio conferencing provider, with a system of local dial-in phone numbers scattered across Europe and the U.S. A number is automatically assigned when the Yuuguu subscriber sets up a screen share session. (The U.S. number is free, but those in the U.K. and Europe range from 6.4 British pence to over 17 Euro cents—in Belgium.)

With Skype, however, light users can have totally cost-free service when communicating with other Skype members, or absorb the cost of SkypeOut calls to phones anywhere. Yuuguu is also integrated with the popular instant messaging services—AIM, MSN Messenger, Google Talk, and Yahoo Messenger—and it aggregates their disparate contact lists into one.

The free version of Yuuguu is limited to 100 minutes per month of Web collaboration time and five participants in any given meeting. Those wanting unlimited time (i.e., more than 100 minutes) or larger participant groups (up to 30) must subscribe at the rate of $15 per month.

Yuuguu logo

Yuuguu touts its instant messaging as “designed especially for business,” meaning it can traverse corporate firewalls without difficulty.

Enterprise VoIPplanet found Yuuguu so intriguing that we just had to try it out. It is a quick down load and a quick install—not much over five minutes all told. (We downloaded the Windows version; there is also one for Mac/Linux.)

Once you’ve installed the software, you must sign up for a Yuuguu account—also a matter of moments. Telling Yuuguu to link to your Skype contacts similarly takes a very short time. Then you’re ready for action.

Launching a screen share session is a one-click procedure. The Yuuguu application (which, again, only has to be on the host’s PC) produces a dial-in phone number and PIN, and a Web address with PIN for the sharing session. Each of these has a handy “copy” link to facilitate distribution via IM or e-mail.

As participants turn up at the Web page, they are “announced” in the Yuuguu client. You then just click a button to connect them in. Connecting took maybe 15 seconds in our few test attempts. Screen colors are somewhat simplified for collaboration participants—no 64-bit color here—and screen refreshes—when you change presentation slides, for example—take 5 to 10 seconds, but that seems more than reasonable performance.

The meeting host can elect to cede control of his/her mouse and keyboard to another participant, so a client could suggest alterations to a design being viewed over the Yuuguu link, say. We did not try out this feature.

In our ever-more-decentralized world, this kind of collaboration tool is bound to get a lot of use—especially as, for most, it will be free. We found it to be the smoothest and simplest to operate that we’ve seen.

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