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Web conferencing is used to conduct live meetings, training, or presentations via the Internet. In a web conference, each participant sits at his or her own computer and is connected to other participants via the internet. This can be either a downloaded application on each of the attendees' computers or a web-based application where the attendees access the meeting by clicking on a link distributed by e-mail (meeting invitation) to enter the conference.
A webinar is a neologism to describe a specific type of web conference. It is typically one-way, from the speaker to the audience with limited audience interaction, such as in a webcast. A webinar can be collaborative and include polling and question & answer sessions to allow full participation between the audience and the presenter. In some cases, the presenter may speak over a standard telephone line, while pointing out information being presented onscreen, and the audience can respond over their own telephones, speaker phones allowing the greatest comfort and convenience. There are web conferencing technologies on the market that have incorporated the use of VoIP audio technology, to allow for a completely web-based communication. Depending upon the provider, webinars may provide hidden or anonymous participant functionality, making participants unaware of other participants in the same meeting.
In the early years of the Internet, the terms "web conferencing" was often used to describe a group discussion in a message board and therefore not live. The term has evolved to refer specifically to live or "synchronous" meetings.
Other typical features of a web conference include: 
Web conferencing is often sold as a service, hosted on a web server controlled by the vendor. Offerings vary per vendor but most hosted services provide a cost per user per minute model, a monthly flat fee model and a seat model. Some vendors also provide a server side solution which allows the customer to host their own web conferencing service on their own servers.
Web conferencing technologies are not standardized, which has been a significant factor in the lack of interoperability, transparency, platform dependence, security issues, cost and market segmentation. In 2003, the IETF established a working group to establish a standard for web conferencing, called "Centralized Conferencing (xcon)" . The planned deliverables of xcon include:
Web conferencing is available with three models: hosting service, software and appliance.
An appliance, unlike the online hosted solution, it is offered as hardware. It is also known as "in-house" or "on-premise" web conferencing. It is used to conduct live meetings, remote training, or presentations via the Internet. In a web conference, each participant sits at his or her own computer and is connected to other participants via the internet. This can be either a downloaded application on each of the attendees' computers or a web-based application where the attendees access the meeting by clicking on a link distributed by e-mail (meeting invitation) to enter the conference.
Real-time text chat facilities such as IRC appeared in the late 1980s. Web-based chat and instant messaging software appeared in the mid-1990s. In the late 1990s, the first true web conferencing capability became available and dozens of other web conferencing venues followed thereafter. "StarLive" was an early commercially available one-to-many web conferencing application "StarLive" introduced by Starlight Networks in February 1998. .
Software and service providers
Notable vendors with articles: