March 10, 2005 11:45 AM PST

Microsoft to buy Groove Networks

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applications on top of Microsoft software. The move also advances Redmond's strategy of adding features to its Office product line in an effort to get customers to upgrade, he said.

DeGroot noted, though, that Microsoft already has a number of collaboration-related products, such as Live Meeting conferencing software.

"To some extent, Microsoft has had a shotgun approach to collaboration," DeGroot said. "It's not clear to me which of Microsoft's approaches to collaboration will be a winner."

"The Groove product really has some fantastic and very unique features."
--Bill Gates
Chairman and chief
software architect, Microsoft

Microsoft executives said that the addition of Groove gives the company three approaches to collaboration: a server-based method for sharing Office documents through SharePoint; real-time collaboration with Live Meeting; and now Groove Virtual Office for people who are geographically dispersed and need to work with people inside and outside their organization.

Microsoft intends to continue offering the Groove application on a hosted basis, said Steven Sinovsky, senior vice president at Microsoft's Information Worker division.

Gates said Microsoft will create a long-term "road map" for integrating Groove's software, but some capabilities, such as authentication and peer-to-peer, will surface in the shorter term in Longhorn. Existing work at Microsoft will be combined with what Groove's employees are doing, he said.

"Clearly, a big thing of Longhorn is going to be its peer-to-peer capability, and having Groove help us pull that together is going to help us do an even better job on that," he said.

Ozzie, who battled Microsoft for years when he was at IBM's Lotus division, will make a significant adjustment as part of the larger Microsoft organization, Forrester's Root said.

"It's ironic that the creator of Lotus Notes will be reporting to Bill Gates," Root said. "The whole point of Groove is to let people work together when they're not in the same location--we'll see if Ray can eat his own dog food."

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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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