Fog Creek Software has released a new version of its remote-desktop software Copilot, which now offers support for Mac OS X. The software, based on the open-source VNC (virtual network computing) system, is designed and priced to enable remote technical support through screen sharing and remote keyboard/mouse control.
Copilot 2.0 is a hosted solution sold at $5 per day per remote connection or at per-minute rates that start at 25 cents per minute (pay as you go) and can include as many as 5,000 minutes for $200 per month. Copilot can tunnel through networks that use private local network addresses assigned via a NAT (network address translation) gateway, the most common method in homes and small businesses for sharing a broadband connection.
Copilot works under Mac OS X 10.2 or later (Safari, Camino, or Firefox required) and with Windows 98 and later (Internet Explorer 6 or later or Firefox required). The browser requirement is due to the Web site setup and registration, and cookies must be turned on.
Unlike Netopia's Timbuktu Pro, which requires routable Internet addresses and cannot easily punch through NAT, Copilot doesn't include a software license. The controller and remote user each download copies of the software, and the controller pushes a short registration code - via email, instant message, or even via a phone call - that the remote user enters to allow the remote machine to be accessed by the controller. The controller can pay for the connection or have the recipient of support pay; credit cards and PayPal are accepted.
A similar product with a greater range of features is Mac HelpMate Remote, part of an application oriented towards dedicated Macintosh tech support and available as part of the Professional Edition subscription of $600 per year. The Professional Edition allows one connection at a time; the $2,500 per year Enterprise Edition offers unlimited simultaneous connections.