The last time we looked at TeamViewer?the popular online remote control and meeting service?version 6 had just been released. Two releases on and TeamViewer 8 has arrived, rather neatly adding optimisations for Windows 8, including touch gestures, plus welcome performance enhancements. But that’s far from all.

Support for the Apple Retina display is similarly added in this release along with session handover and improved session recording, plus the ability to print locally from a remotely connected machine. There’s also a new cloud-based team management console, and a lot more besides.

Getting Started

As with previous releases, ease of use remains a hallmark of the new TeamViewer 8 product, which takes just seconds to get working. Indeed, all you have to do to join a remote control session or meeting is download TeamViewer from the public website and run it without the need for any prior installation.

Of course, you can install the software if you want, with versions available for Windows, Apple Mac and Linux platforms but, even then no real technical knowledge is required. Neither do you need to know the address of the remote systems you want to connect to, the TeamViewer routing server sorting that out for you and handling any firewalls in-between. All you have to do is type in a unique partner ID and password generated for the session, typically, relayed by phone, text or e-mail.

Paying For It

For personal use TeamViewer can be run free of charge and without adverts?just a gentle reminder when you end a session to buy a licence if using the product commercially. Otherwise three licenses are available, all of which can handle an unlimited number of clients running any of the supported operating systems.

Prices start at £439 (ex. VAT) for TeamViewer Business, limited to just one workstation from which remote control sessions and meetings can be run. Meetings can have up to 15 participants with this license and you can extend it to run sessions and meetings from additional computers at a cost of £79 per host.

Alternatively, for £899 (ex. VAT) the TeamViewer Premium license lets you run the product on unlimited systems and support up to 25 meeting participants. Premium customers also get the new cloud-based TeamViewer Management Console and session handover capabilities, along with TeamViewer Portable, to run the program from CD-ROM or USB stick, plus support for browser-based remote control.

Lastly, a Corporate licence (£1,769 ex. VAT) offers all of the above plus support for three concurrent client sessions, which can be further extended if required. Corporate customers also get an MSI package, for simpler client deployment on Active Directory networks, and 12 months priority support.

No annual fees are required but one of the drawbacks to the one-off licensing model employed is the need to renew when a new version comes out. However, you can also still access the older software from the TeamViewer Web site and connect to remote systems running older versions from a TeamViewer 8 host, but not vice versa. Upgrade licenses are also available for existing customers.

All The Eights, And More

When it comes to the changes in this release of TeamViewer, optimisation for Windows 8 was inevitable, with facilities to access the usually hidden Charms bar and other new features on a remote Windows 8 computer. Moreover, as well as desktop support there’s a new TeamViewer Touch app?available free from the Windows store?to run TeamViewer from the Windows 8 GUI and use touch gestures to control remote systems. Less inevitable was the addition of Apple Retina support, although it will be welcomed by MacBook Pro users equipped with matching Retina displays.

Elsewhere, enhancements to the sound and video capabilities will go down well with all users, particularly those with commercial licenses who can now show participants a video in real-time during an online presentation. Added to which it is now possible to use a local printer to print documents from a remote system with TeamViewer 8, although some care is needed as this could be a security issue on unattended systems where TeamViewer is used for remote management.

More Help For Helpdesks

Popular as a remote troubleshooting tool with helpdesks and support teams, a new session handover option in TeamViewer 8 will make the updated software even more useful. As will the ability to record both online meeting and remote control sessions, including sound, VoIP, and video.

Additionally support teams will welcome a new option to record comments when ending a session to help with billing. Session start and end times are also recorded and basic billing information added, although there are no direct billing capabilities, or links to accounting applications.

Also of great interest to helpdesk staff is the cloud-based management console. Here you can create company profiles and manage both TeamViewer users and systems. Accounts for new users can be created and disabled remotely, passwords set and changed, access rights and sharing privileges assigned and so on. Users can also initiate Web-based connections to remote computers directly from the management console, as well as share computer and contact lists with others in their team.

Meetings Too

With a plethora of cloud-based meeting and conferencing services available, the online meeting option is, arguably, less of a draw in TeamViewer. However it is a workable and easy to use option making it possible to schedule and host meetings for up to 25 people complete with audio and video conferencing and screen sharing.

Another plus is that, just as with the remote control option, TeamViewer meeting participants don’t need to install any software. Indeed they can take part using a Web browser from Windows, Mac or Linux desktops or using an app available for iOS and Android smartphones and tablets.

With TeamViewer 8 you can now also schedule meetings by issuing an invitation direct from an Outlook calendar using an integrated TeamViewer button. An option that also lets you convert existing appointments into online meetings, automatically sending out the required invitations together with the associated access information.

Even Better

An already very competent and easy to use product, the performance and functionality enhancements in TeamViewer 8 push it further ahead of the pack. Evolutionary rather than revolutionary, the remote control capabilities remain the biggest draw although the online meeting facilities are a worthwhile adjunct, making for a very complete and professional solution.