Copilot sucks

For all the hype given to Copilot by Joel Spolsky (of Joel on Software fame, and he's also a creator of Copilot), it really kind of sucks. The first time I tried connecting with someone, the other person reported that it crashed. In the mean time, on my machine, it became the first application ever that managed to steadily consume 100% of both cores on my dual-core CPU while waiting for the connection. The other person then figured out that the Copilot crash might be because he himself was accessing the machine through VNC, and that perhaps there was a conflict. (If there was a conflict there should have been an error message, not a crash.) So he accessed the machine locally and Copilot did work, but oh my god how slowly. Yeah, the firewalls were closed, but the latency was still incredible - click, wait 15 seconds, a window starts to appear, wait another 15 seconds, the window finally appears. In the meanwhile, Copilot was steadily consuming 100% of one core on my machine. From that alone it really looks like this software was done by students.

Not to mention the invitation code fiasco. I first sent the other person an invitation code the day before, just to get prepared. Then today it turned out that the invitation code didn't work any more and he had to close everything, re-login with the new code and re-download the application. Then when the thing crashed I closed Copilot and the browser and subsequently when we tried again we had to exchange yet another invitation code. So much for simplicity and ease of use - this invitation code thing really needs to be worked out; at least it should be possible to reuse a previously issued invitation code, especially if someone's already online with that code and is waiting for you to help them.

Overall I've had a better usage experience with the Remote Assistance functionality that's built into Windows Live Messenger - it is faster, easier, less flaky and it also works through firewalls. And as opposed to Copilot, it's free. The only disadvantage of Remote Assistance is that, well, both parties need to be logged into Messenger. If it only wasn't for that, I'd recommend Messenger's Remote Assistance over Copilot any day. And in fact, if you and the other party both have Messenger accounts, I do.

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