Number of participants for OneNote Live Sharing

The other day I got a question from TechieBird in my comments:

Hi Dan - one piece of information I can't seem to find anywhere (apologies if it's out there, maybe I'm searching on the wrong terms) is whether there's a recommended maximum number of participants in a Live Sharing session with ON2007.  Where I work we'd very much like to use this for some kind of whiteboarding, it would just be useful to know the limits!

Well I wanted to let you know I got the answer to this and I wanted to give you an idea of how the Live Sharing feature works in OneNote 2007 RTM.

First of all how does Live Sharing work in OneNote 2007? We use a technology called DirectPlay which is a p2p protocol to send data across the wire. All of the OneNote clients are in touch with everyone else and they are always sending the data to everyone, a true p2p network sending all of the data. However there is a problem because as there are more participants (nodes) each node needs to send the data to every other node. Also if more people are actually editing they are sending their data to every other node.

For more cases you will never have a problem however if your network connection isn't very good (flaky wireless) then your experience will be worse since each node needs to talk with each other node and if it drops out the whole sharing session falls apart, much like an arch without the keystone.

That being said I talked with Michelle who is our tester for the Live Sharing feature to see how many people she thought was optimal. You see Michelle has lots of experience with this because she would host these live sharing testing session every week near the end of this release. We would put a bunch of people in a room and test this out, what gets lost? What causes crashes, etc. We did this almost every week and had anywhere from 4-20 people joined to the session, it was pretty fun but also chaotic as well!


Recommended #

Max #

Windows XP

< 10


Windows Vista

< 6



These numbers are based on our own testing and I would encourage you to try for higher numbers. The protocol supports higher numbers; you just need super ideal network connections. As you can see Vista is worse and some of that has to do with IPv6 support and if you are using it on your network or not. If you have problems or personal experiences please let us know. For the main scenario of having a few people in a room or a classroom it works great. We use it frequently when we are in meetings and all connected wirelessly.

Comments (5)

  1. Chris dot Jordan at Microsoft dot com says:

    For your interest:

    We had 6 of us, using Beta 2 TR, running on Vista RC1, over a wireless link all sharing the same OneNote notebook, and we never noticed any problems.

    We were using it at a conference to record our notes of the presentations into the same place. We set the notebook up so that each person had their own tab, into which they could add any pages they liked. This way, we each kept our own notes at the conference, but had immediate access to any one elses notes when we needed them.

    One tab was fully shared between us and updated regularly: This was where we recorded questions that needed further answers to, so we had a shared "follow on later" list of actions.

  2. Graham Hughes says:

    we use live sessions in class with >20 on ON2007 with Vista and wireless….we have no issues at all, except for people writing over the top of each other…..something I still have to work out

  3. Ross says:

    anyone know how to get December 2007 and

    all of the months for 2008 for ONENOTE??

  4. Kevin says:

    I have tried to do live sharing sessions in a classroom environment of about 15 students (High school math class) connecting wirelessly (XP version).

    When I start a shared session, I disable the ability for others to modify the page.  At sporadic moments during the sharing, some of the most recent inking disappears.  (It is not the scratch out feature and it is not the pen being set as a pointer)  

    Anyone else experience this?  Any other ideas?  Again this is sporadic.  Several class periods could go smoothly and suddely the issue reappears.  Is it the number of computers connected?  Something else?

  5. mikeo1313 says:

    Is windows foldershare & vpn more reliable / better then directplay?

    vids to hamachi setup

    Thanks for you comment

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