After my last debacle with Windows Live Meeting where all four cores of my processor were pegged, my heat alarm was beeping and my patience was being quickly exhausted, I decided to give up on WLM—at least before Microsoft stepped in. When I got back in town from my penance trip to Leavenworth, Kansas and the biker wedding at the tattoo parlor in Ruidoso, NM (film at 11), I called up the WML support team (866-493.2825) (on a Saturday afternoon). To my delight a friendly voice answered and was able to offer a number of suggestions. Apparently WLM has free support 7/24. So, what were the suggestions?
- Disable Hardware Acceleration on the video card. This is easier said than done in Windows 7 as I’ll explain next. The support pro told me that this solves 90% of the performance problems. It did occur to me that if this is really the case (as it seems to be), why doesn’t WLM just make this change on its own as it starts?
- Use the Content tab to choose just those applications to share—not the entire desktop. Again, this makes it harder to run a smooth demo unless you open up the applications to share ahead of time and add them to the Content tab. However, this can lead to poorer performance as WLM might be overwhelmed by the increased workload. Since I have two monitors and many windows open that should not be shared (including gadgets) I can see how this would help. I would like to see an option where WLM shares applications on a specific monitor. While one can setup a sharing window, I could never get this to work correctly—perhaps if this was fixed…
- Don’t share your screen-cam Window—it’s okay to get WML to show your video, just don’t include it as one of the shared windows.
Turning off video card hardware acceleration has always been a problem with screen scrapers and application sharing. I should have remembered this trick as we ran across it a decade ago while I was evaluating screen sharing programs at MSTE in the 90’s. My problem is with Windows 7—it seems the dialog to change these video card settings has been disabled for some reason. This means you can’t use the Advanced Settings | Troubleshooting | Change Settings technique that we could use in XP and Vista to make this change.
Fortunately, I discovered that if you install the DirectX SDK, you can disable hardware acceleration in Windows 7 by clicking on the DirectDraw tab and un-checking the Use Hardware Acceleration checkbox as shown below. The DirectX SDK can be downloaded from here.