WebEx Enters Remote PC Access Market

By Matthew Hicks  |  Print this article Print

The online-meeting company begins a small-business and consumer push with a service for remotely controlling a PC's desktop and applications.

WebEx Communications Inc, best-known for its online meeting service, is moving more aggressively into online services for the small business and consumer markets. Its first target will be remote access for Windows PCs.

On Monday, the San Jose, Calif., company will announce a service called MyWebExPC that lets users access a remote computer's desktop through a Web browser.

WebEx will be battling existing remote-access offerings such as Citrix Online LLC's GoToMyPC service and Symantec Corp.'s pcAnywhere software.

In an effort to gain converts, WebEx is offering an entry-level version of its service for free. WebEx also will offer a premium service for $9.95 a month that provides additional security and sharing capabilities.

Click here to read about another remote-access entrant that is offering a free service.

Both services tie into WebEx's MediaTone Network, the underlying network for the company's collaboration services such as Web conferencing, said Praful Shah, vice president of the online channel at WebEx.

"The way we've done this is we've taken the capability of MediaTone Network for real-time interaction and are now leveraging it for real-time access and secure access to a PC," Shah said.

Using MyWebExPC requires a software download on the PC being configured for remote access. Then, a user can access that computer's desktop and applications by logging into the mywebexpc.com Web site. The free version provides password protection and the ability to hide a remote PC's content and keyboard as it is being accessed.

The premium version, called MyWebExPC Pro, adds an additional authentication feature. A user can require the system to initiate a call to a designated telephone number. The authentication then would occur once a correct pass code is entered on the call, Shah said.

The Pro version also allows for file transfers, remote printing and access controls that can block access to specific applications.

The remote-access service is the first of a series of new Internet-based services WebEx plans to offer under the MyWebEx umbrella, Shah said. He declined to specify the other services but said more of them would be launched throughout the year.

"They will all be self-service and online," he said.

WebEx already offered a feature in its broader online meeting services called Access Anywhere that let users remotely control a PC. The company reworked that feature to create the new service, Shah said.

MyWebExPC, which will be available Monday, initially works only with Windows, though Shah said additional platform support is likely in future releases.

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Matthew Hicks As an online reporter for eWEEK.com, Matt Hicks covers the fast-changing developments in Internet technologies. His coverage includes the growing field of Web conferencing software and services. With eight years as a business and technology journalist, Matt has gained insight into the market strategies of IT vendors as well as the needs of enterprise IT managers. He joined Ziff Davis in 1999 as a staff writer for the former Strategies section of eWEEK, where he wrote in-depth features about corporate strategies for e-business and enterprise software. In 2002, he moved to the News department at the magazine as a senior writer specializing in coverage of database software and enterprise networking. Later that year Matt started a yearlong fellowship in Washington, DC, after being awarded an American Political Science Association Congressional Fellowship for Journalist. As a fellow, he spent nine months working on policy issues, including technology policy, in for a Member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He rejoined Ziff Davis in August 2003 as a reporter dedicated to online coverage for eWEEK.com. Along with Web conferencing, he follows search engines, Web browsers, speech technology and the Internet domain-naming system.