about us

“Meeting by Wire is a service providing information, tips and rumors about products that support distance meetings and conferences with emphasis on Microsoft’s NetMeeting and XP’s Windows Messenger”


NetMeeting is a real-time communications tool from Microsoft that allows individuals to communicate in pairs or groups over the internet or intranet ( an IP enabled LAN) using audio, video and data communication.

Why is NetMeeting different?

NetMeeting has a number of characteristics that make it better than other similar tools:

bullet it is free (downloadable at Microsoft – Win2000 and XP versions are preinstalled and will not allow installation of downloadable versions)
bullet it is standards based (which means that it can communicate with other standards based products)
bullet it operates with 2 or more individuals in a meeting
bullet it has built in audio, video, whiteboard, chat, file transfer, program sharing and collaboration functions

What is required to run NetMeeting?

bullet Windows 95/98, Me, NT, 2000 or XP
bullet Internet or Intranet connection (TCP/IP)
bullet A sound card with a microphone and speakers (or better yet a headset with integrated microphone) is desirable

What is not required to run NetMeeting?

bullet NetMeeting 3.0 requires IE4.01+ to be on the system — though there is no requirement to use it as your default browser
bullet NetMeeting does not require a video camera to view callers (to send video a camera is required — parallel port or USB cameras are the easiest to install but capture card based cameras work best – a review of cameras and guide to selection is on the hardware page)

What are directory or ILS servers?

Most users of the internet are on dial up lines – not connected all the time. Each time they connect their IP addresses change (the IP address is at the heart of the internet — all location information ultimately gets translated to IP address and computers intercommunicate using that as an address).In order for potential calling computers to connect to you, they must have two pieces of information:

bullet they must know that you are online or connected
bullet they must know your current IP address

The ILS servers supply the function of providing this information. When you “Log on” to an ILS server you are telling the ILS server that you (identified by your supplied email address)  are connected to the internet, that you are at a certain IP address (a current bug in NetMeeting actually records the incorrect IP address if you are on an IP enabled LAN but connected through a dial up line) and that you are running NetMeeting and able to field calls. Now potential callers need know only two fixed pieces of information to call you:

bullet the ILS server that you are logged into or would log into if you are online
bullet the supplied email address

The ILS server you choose to use need bear no relationship geographically to where you are — all that is necessary is that your potential callers know which you will log in to.

The ILS server knows whether or not you are online and if you are what your current IP address is. You can “log in” to an ILS server without appearing in the viewable directory so that only associates that know the ILS server and email address you supplied can find you.

Besides allowing other users to contact you the ILS has a completely separate but parallel function – it lets you know when other users are on line and lets you contact them. These users need not be on the same ILS as you (if in fact you are “logged in” to any ILS). You can determine if they are on-line, some characteristics about their system (do they have sound and or a video sending capability), and the information they supplied about their location etc. You can initiate a call to them.

Once a call has been initiated to a user the ILS is no longer involved — all communication is between the participating computers.

Please remember that if you are calling a stranger — all the normal cautions apply:

bullet they may not answer (maybe they are not open to calls from strangers)
bullet they may be predators or deviants of some kind
Changed January 2,2003

I can’t log on to a server!

There could be a number of reasons for this problem:

bullet you have an AOL installation that installed a 16 bit Winsock — if this is the case you cannot log on to any server
bullet you are behind a proxy server that is not allowing your connections to the ILS server
bullet you have just logged out and the logout is not yet completed
bullet somebody else is logged on using your chosen email address — this might be especially true if you use a common pseudonym email address
bullet the server you want to user is busy or overloaded
bullet apparently Win2000 somehow dictates a different LDAP port number — it is necessary to add the port number(389) to the ILS name ( i.e. ils.xxx.com:389)

Microsoft has outlined many of these issues in the support database

Changed April 1,2000

I get logged out every few minutes!

It seems that NetMeeting, when used on a dial up line, depends on the ICMP protocol (the same one that is used by ping and traceroute programs) to assure a  connection before it does its regular update to the ILS server (every 2 minutes apparently).If your router, your ISP, the ISP providing the ILS server or someone between is blocking or dropping ICMP packets ( this is common in busy internet situations — the “non-essential” ICMP packets are the first to be dropped by busy routers) you may be logged out.

Microsoft has published a support article on this issue.

Changed February 28,1999

What happened to the Microsoft ILS Servers and Internet Directory?

On December 15,1999 Microsoft decided to withdraw all ILS servers that it was running and let 3rd party servers handle the load and instead concentrate on MSN Messenger as vehicle for initiating NetMeeting calls.No support for ILS servers was changed in NetMeeting so if you wish to continue to use an ILS server you should pick one of the 3rd party servers available. Use NetMeeting HQ to find servers.

Instructions for adding and removing individual servers from you list are outlined below.

Changed December 27,1999

Finding an ILS server

Since Microsoft closed their servers it has become difficult for many people to find usable servers.A number of websites I have noticed are maintaining ILS server scanners — allowing you to determine current state of servers and to search a number servers at once.

Check out the sites — NetMeeting Headquarters and VideoFrog, NetMeetingserver.net

Changed April 30,2003

I am not listed what is the problem?

There are a number of reasons why you might not see yourself listed:

  1. You are not logged in to an ILS server (logging in can happen automatically on NetMeeting start up or on command depending on your preferences set up)
  2. You have indicated in options that you want your listing not to be visible ( this is like an unlisted telephone number — people can still call you but they must know your number)
  3. You are looking at a different ILS than the one you logged into.
  4. You are looking at different category of user than the category you indicated on your login.
  5. The ILS is overloaded or has failed
  6. You have not refreshed the list to the most current available.
Changed June 9,2000

Why do I never get calls or why can’t people who try to call reach me?

NetMeeting ILS registration works by registering your current IP address in the ILS system. People can call you through the ILS only if the address registered in the ILS is correct and reachable.Various circumstances cause this not to be true:

bullet You are running on a TCP/IP enabled LAN and use a dial up ISP.
bullet You are running a TCP/IP enabled LAN and go through a proxy, firewall or NAT translator.
bullet You are running a TCP/IP enabled LAN and also use an Ethernet card that connects to a cable modem.
bullet You have WebTV software installed

This problem was prevalent with V2.x. Fortunately in V3.0 this is no longer a problem – NetMeeting uses the IP address of the adaptor that it will be talking to the ILS on as the IP to register – so most of the previous aberrant behaviour has been removed.

Changed April 9,2002

Manage which IP you register in the ILS?

A suggestion from Cuseeme users (who apparently experience a similar problem) was that the IP used is the IP of the last installed adapter — and that deinstallation of all adapters Ethernet and dial up) and reinstallation with the IP that you desired to be registered on the last installed adapter was a solution. If you try this make sure you record all the settings on the adapters before you deinstall.Another suggestion from a NetMeeting user is to deinstall NetMeeting, connect to the internet through your dial up, and reinstall while connected. I am not sure what may be at play here but he claims success 3 out 3 times.
Changed February 16,1999

ILS theory vs. practice

Unfortunately the current ILS strategy is faulty and the overload problem mentioned above is becoming more and more common. In response to problems Microsoft has chosen to take all of its ILS servers permanently out of service and is favouring MSN Messenger as the prime connection strategy.. The ILS system itself seems unscalable and prone to breakdown or other faults. Nobody manages the system so a particular ILS server can go for days without functioning.

I have picked a new ILS server – how do I add it to the list?

To add an ILS server to the list of servers that you can log into or pick in the directory listing window click on the Server or Server name pulldown in the directory listing view or in the Tools/Options menu General tab ( the server name text should now be selected) — type the new name or paste the name in.

NetMeeting options for modifiying directory list


Changed July 22,1999

Can I delete servers as well?

There is a limit of 15 servers allowed in the list. A function for deleting existing servers was left out of the V 2.x of NetMeeting (to delete a server use the NetMeeting Super Enhancer program downloadable at the NetMeeting Place). To delete a server in 3.0 use  Call menu. Directory item to display the “Find Someone” dialog. The current server can be deleted using the “X” button:Find Someone panel showing directory delete button
Added July 22,1999

Is there relief from this ILS dilemma?

There are a number of ways to avoid this ILS problem:

  1. Find another less used more stable ILS server to register on. NetMeetingHQ  and Videofrog , Chatpalalso have ils server lists.
  2. NetMeetingHQ  and Videofrog have online ils scanners that provide web lists of ils servers.neetingserver.net has a similar service that is more family or work place friendly.
  3. Use ICQ, AOL Instant Messenger or another buddy program as online signal and NetMeeting connection tool.
  4. Use the TZO naming system , Dyndns  or another dynamic naming service. This includes a permanent name that points your dynamic address.
  5. Email partners informing them that you are online — include your IP address (available by runningwinipcfg from the Start menu – run item for V2 and in the About box in V3) allowing them to call you directly.
  6. Use Microsoft’s MSN Messenger which has built in NetMeeting integration.
  7. Groove’s pay version has NetMeeting connection features.
Changed April 30,2003

Making a Call using MSN/Windows Messenger

Since Microsoft closed all its ILS servers they have promoted Msn Messenger as the method for starting NetMeeting calls. Messenger is a much different mechanism than an ILS – though essentially it performs the same function as far as NetMeeting is concerned. It requires that you have a predetermined “buddy” list — a list of individuals that have allowed you to determine their online status and to contact them.Assuming you have downloaded and installed Msn Messenger and have established a list of buddies you can start a NetMeeting call from Msn Messenger using the “Start NetMeeting” menu item.

Unfortunately Microsoft in its infinite wisdom has chosen not to include this item in the XP “Windows Messenger” version. You can make it come back by setting the Messenger to Windows 2000 compatibility mode ( right click on a Messenger shortcut, select properties, compatibility). For more information seethe XP/NetMeeting page.

Changed January 02,2003

Can I avoid the ILS and the internet and dial directly?

Versions of NetMeeting prior to V2.1 had a feature where you could make direct calls (modem to modem) avoiding the Internet and the ILS. This feature was removed in V2.1 and later.It can still be done however. Noël Danjou has published information on how to to do this (a Word document) available from his download page.

I haven’t tried the instructions myself the information but they seem complete and detailed.

Microsoft has published information as well.

Changed August25,1999

Can I set up NetMeeting to run on a LAN with no Internet access?

To set up a functional intranet to use NetMeeting:All computers must have the TCP/IP protocol installed and bound to the Ethernet card and assigned TCP/IP addresses — there are a number of ways to do this but the easiest is to assign an IP address from the non routable private set ( I use 192.168.0.x with a mask of ).

Disable Wins, and DNS unless machines have access to the internet or an internal DNS server. Install NetMeeting and set it up on all machines so that it: (all of these are in the Tools.. Options — Calling tab) doesn’t log on at start up.

Computers can now call each other in NetMeeting using the IP address 192.168.0.x as the address to call or computer name (identification tab of of Network properties).

There are other possible set-up strategies (IP addresses could be assigned by DHCP, you could run a DNS or WINS server to get computer name, you could run an internal ILS) but all add extra complication.

Extensive LANs might require implementation of an ILS server to provide both presence and location information.

Changed December 19,1999

Deleting the Most Recently used drop down list

The most recently used address drop down list (the black box above the video window) contains a list of the most recently typed in addresses to which completed calls where made.It is stored in the registry at:
HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Conferencing\UI\CallMRUDeleting the key or contents will allow you to start the list anew — I don’t know the exact format of all entries but with some testing and manipulation you could probably add or remove individual items as well.


Added May 24,2001

Creating a Speedial list

Creating a series of .cnf files in the “speeddial” sub directory of the NetMeeting install directory will create an address book the can be reused and transferred to other machines. The directory is accessible via the Call -> Directory pane drop down list.
Added May 24,2001

Test your audio video setup

Intel it seems is providing a test site to test your H.323 calling program ( I think their own but it seems to work for NetMeeting.