On the heels on my post on remote pairing, I had a quick look at Microsoft SharedView Beta2 yesterday. I say "quick" look because that was all it took to determine I wasn't going to be using it for remote pairing. The majority of this post is why it's not going to work for me.

In order to start using SharedView, one person has to create a session, then invite the other via e-mail. The other person joins the session by entering in the session name and session code (randomly generated). There are hints that this may be easier if you have a Windows Live account but I never got that far.

Next, you can share exactly one application at a time, or your entire desktop. So no sharing Visual Studio and the console window. But to be fair, when I pair with someone, I generally share the desktop anyway. (Related to that is an issue I forgot to mention in the remote pairing post: Alt+Tab, or lack of it).

When you do share an application, everything else (and I do mean *everything*) goes gray. Not disabled mind you, just gray:

click for larger image 


The apps behind the console are still active, though it isn't very obvious. And it does make for an interesting user experience dealing with muted windows.

On the other end, if you are the sharee, the application being shared is squished into the available size of your screen. Even if your resolutions match, the app is shrunk a bit to allow for the SharedView toolbar and some padding to make for good gestalt. Compare this with Office Communicator where the app remains the original size but the window scrolls if it doesn't fit your screen. If I had to choose 'twixt the two methods, I prefer the Office Communicator version.

The one advantage I found over Office Communicator's application sharing is that I can actually share something over remote desktop. But frankly, as long as someone else can share their desktop, I don't much care whose desktop I deal with.

This isn't an extensive review by any means. In fact, it barely qualifies as a cursory one given that I spent all of about six minutes evaluating the product. But it was long enough to determine that SharedView was not designed for remote pairing. Looks great if you want to give a presentation to a group of people. It does allow you to see the other attendees' mouse pointers which I imagine could be useful if they have a quick question about something on the screen. The performance was adequate if a little chunky though to be fair, there were at least two other communication protocols 'twixt me and my guinea pig.

For now, I'm not feeling enough pain with Office Communicator to put my potential pairers through another install process. But if the opportunity comes up, I'll probably give Yugma or TightVNC a try based on their prices.

Kyle the Shared