I've been a big fan of the free screen-sharing software CrossLoop ever since I originally tried it back in November 2006. Basically, CrossLoop lets any two users share a desktop. One PC "hosts" the CrossLoop session and the other "joins." The computer joined to the host can see and control everything on the host PC's desktop. CrossLoop is still in beta release, but I think it's an excellent no-hassle solution for low-budget tech support.
I recently gained access to a new private beta of CrossLoop 1.1, the first major update to the software since its initial release. The past year has seen CrossLoop mostly expanding its localized language support, so it's refreshing to see some improvements to the program's feature set. There are only a few new features, but they are rather essential additions.
The most notable addition to CrossLoop 1.1 is the ability to transfer files across computers. When two PCs are connected with CrossLoop, both the host and joined computers can send files to each other using a big Folder button in the main CrossLoop interface. Users can select as many files as they would like and there is no limit whatsoever on file size, but I had varying degrees of success in terms of reasonable transfer speeds. Simple image and text files under 100K transferred quickly, but a 5MB MP3 file ended up taking 25 minutes to send. Though the feature is very much appreciated, it's not yet a replacement for file-sharing programs like Zapr or Pando, in my opinion.
The other new features in CrossLoop 1.1 aren't nearly as sexy as the file transferring, but they're probably even more necessary to the program's core functionality. The first is a Switch Control button that looks a lot like the old ActiveSync logo for PocketPCs. When you click on that button in the CrossLoop interface, a new screen-sharing session launches with the host computer as the joiner, and vice versa, with no access code necessary. Both CrossLoop users need to confirm the switch before it takes place.
For users who feel a bit nervous about turning over complete control of their PCs to another person, a new View Only or Share Control button will be very much appreciated. When this option--which looks like a keyboard and mouse in the CrossLoop interface--is selected, a red X will appear over the interface icon, and the joined computer will only be able to view the screen of the host computer, not control it. Even better, a host computer can set his connection to View Only before giving the joiner his or her access code, meaning that the joined computer will never have complete control of the host.
As mentioned, the CrossLoop 1.1 version is a private beta, but aside from the question of transfer speeds (sometimes as slow as 6Kbps), the CrossLoop 1.1 beta looks very much ready for wide release. Let's hope that the developers finalize any last-minute tweaks and necessary bug fixes and open the new features up to the world at large soon.