March 10, 2005 11:45 AM PST

Microsoft to buy Groove Networks

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companywide deals to selling smaller projects to smaller organizations and to individual departments within big companies, according to a representative.

In an interview with CNET News.com one year ago, Ozzie said the company's intention from the beginning was to remain independent and become a public company.

But on Thursday, Ozzie said joining Microsoft will help Groove realize its vision of giving dispersed teams of workers better collaboration tools.

"(I) have an opportunity to contribute some of what I've learned--both the things that have worked and the mistakes I've made--to Microsoft's corporate-wide offerings, both information worker and related supporting infrastructure," Ozzie said.

Raikes said that the timing for the transaction was driven by Microsoft's growing interest in collaboration and by requests from several customers who suggested that Microsoft tighten its ties with Groove.

"It was the combination of that (customer) feedback and the opportunity we see in having more powerful collaboration offerings going forward--that was the tipping point," Raikes said.

Microsoft's two other chief technical officers are David Vaskevitch, who focuses on business applications, and Craig Mundie, who deals with emerging technologies, such as embedded computing, and government policies.

A "big-idea thinker"
The acquisition of Groove is hardly a surprise, given the close ties between the companies, said Nate Root, an analyst at Forrester Research. Keeping Ozzie at Microsoft is a smart move, given that Ozzie's been a fixture of the collaboration market for many years, he added.

"When Lotus Notes was invented, it was an out-of-the-blue big idea, and Groove was the same...Ray is a big-idea thinker," Root said. "Microsoft has recognized the value of it and is finally stepping up and buying them."

From a product point of view, the Groove software fills a hole in Microsoft's existing office suite. When customers have needed software for workers who were only occasionally connected to company networks but needed to update documents, Microsoft has had to point them to Groove, Root said.

However, it will be challenging, Root said, to bake Groove's collaboration features into Office 12 and Longhorn, the new edition of Windows, which are both due out next year.

"When you're dealing with software products that have millions of lines of code and are well along their design and development paths, it's not trivial to buy a major new feature and weave it in at the proverbial last minute," he said. "Microsoft should have bought them a year ago."

Paul DeGroot, an analyst at Directions on Microsoft, said buying Groove fits Microsoft's pattern of buying companies that have built their

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9 comments

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No Surprise Surprise ...!
Having tracked Groove for the last three years this does not come as a surprise. Notes was always a product that Microsoft feared as a killer-app and the slow death of Notes was a great relief.

Ray Ozzie like many others decided if you cannot beat them join them. He designed Groove to be an office compatible app from the start. Maybe now the collaboration and communication mess in MS will finally be resolved by Ozzie (new CTO).

Another company that I think will go this way is MindMap and maybe even Salesforce if Microsoft CRM doesn't get going soon!
Posted by (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Another weak collaboration tool
Peer-to-peer, chat, IM, email, file sharing, on-line meetings... they are all just pushing bits from point A to point B. People often have face-to-face meetings without accomplishing that much.

The key is not to just communicate, but to actually collaborate, and that requires that people actually get down to the meaning of the thing that they are working on.

A really interesting and useful collaboration tool for software developers is ReadySET Pro (<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.readysetpro.com/" target="_newWindow">http://www.readysetpro.com/</a>). It actually gives teams a big head start on formulating their use cases, test cases, security plans, requirements documents, design documents, and project plans.
Posted by (4 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Groove is not the end
&lt;&lt;The key is not to just communicate, but to actually collaborate, and that requires that people actually get down to the meaning of the thing that they are working on.&gt;&gt;

You make valid points, yet seem to be suggesting that Microsoft is going to rebrand and sell Groove as it exists. The article clearly states that this product will be handled through the Microsoft philosophy of "embrace and extend." On page 1 of the article, it is stated that the new functionality will be integrated with SharePoint. Since SharePoint already represents an application that allows people to collaborate, communicate, and share more than words, groove is merely another handy piece of the puzzle that is sharepoint. My hope, is that the sharepoint UI will be greatly simplified. It is still too confusing for simple users.
Posted by David Arbogast (1709 comments )
Link Flag
Slight Bias
Isn't Jason Robbins the creator of ReadySET? Is that you by any chance?
Posted by Andrew J Glina (1673 comments )
Link Flag
Groove Stinks
As a former Groove user, I can testify that my personal user experience with the tool sucked. Perhaps others had a better time with it - but noone at our company did. As near as I can tell, all Groove does is integrate the functionality of a number of other desktop applications in a cumbersome and very slow-to-use way. What's the point in avoiding VPN use if synchnozing your groove desktops takes an hour and half, and the groove application makes your entire system slow and unstable?

Good luck, Microsoft, in salvaging this white elephant of a technology. There's a reason groove's however many years of business have netted them a whopping 100 customers - everything this product does can be done by other technologies already that are stable and extensively deployed.
Posted by dreadsword (17 comments )
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MS Manual Information Workers
Any office worker who really knows how to leverage Linux, knows that a Linux box can be configured to be their automated Information Worker, while they concentrate all their time on higher level knowledge tasks.
MS is still pushing the old early 1980s bums-on-seats manual information systems, and will surely continue to loose market share as business discovers the increased productivity in deploying a desktop Linux system.
American businesses continue to be disadvantaged by the Gates designed desktop, and his company must take the lions share of responsibility for holding back the advancement of office computing, and by association the American economy, while he follows his dream of being the world's richest individual.
Thank common sense and social necessity for the Open Source initiative.
Posted by Stomfi (52 comments )
Reply Link Flag
reality check
There is a reason linux is not on desktops in corporates and it is because everything you described Linux sucks at. To suggest it is great at collaboration and automation or Information would have to be one of the biggest stretchs of truth I have ever heard.
Posted by (16 comments )
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