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Users waiting for Cisco to expand Webex waiting rooms

Users are pushing Cisco to catch up to Zoom on features. The latest example: Webex's lack of support for waiting rooms in scheduled meetings.

Cisco plans to enable waiting rooms for scheduled Webex meetings in the future. In the meantime, some Cisco customers are turning to Zoom, which has supported the feature for years.

Waiting rooms have become an important security feature in video conferencing. The feature forces guests to wait in a lobby for the host to admit them. That helps prevent uninvited attendees from disrupting meetings.

But waiting rooms in Webex are limited to personal meeting rooms, a service that gives users a perpetual space to host recurring conferences. Hosts can't force attendees to wait in a lobby before joining regular Webex meetings.

The Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service, which has used Webex for years, purchased Zoom shortly after the pandemic forced its classes online. The school found that Zoom's waiting room feature helped instructors ensure only registered students were joining classes.

"This feature, along with a few others, has made the Zoom platform the preference for most of our instructors," said Donna Morefield, an IT business analyst at the university.

Cisco said it would launch waiting rooms for regular Webex meetings "shortly." Users have been complaining about Webex's lack of feature parity with Zoom on Cisco's Webex community forums.

Cisco lets Webex users lock meetings, preventing anyone else from joining the conference. Meeting hosts can also remove attendees from a meeting and place them into a lobby, but only after they have entered.

Zoom came under fire this spring for what became known as Zoombombing. Customers reported incidents of people crashing meetings to display pornographic and obscene images.

In response, Zoom turned waiting rooms on by default. The vendor had offered waiting rooms for years, but meeting organizers had to turn it on. Microsoft Teams, another Webex competitor, also supports waiting rooms.

Waiting rooms are not the only feature missing from Webex. Cisco also does not support breakout rooms or virtual backgrounds on the desktop version, both of which Zoom offers.

Cisco was ready to announce some enhancements to Webex this week at Cisco Live, its annual user conference. However, the company postponed the event until June 16-17 out of deference to the anti-racism protests sweeping the country.

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