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MVP's discuss the future of Microsoft Office Groove

MVP's discuss the future of Microsoft Office Groove

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We've just wrapped up a very productive exchange with the Office Groove and SharePoint MVP's who attended this week's Global Summit which concluded yesterday.  The experience of the Groove MVP's along with the SharePoint, InfoPath, and other MVP's who attended our sessions resulted in many lively discussions about collaboration in the enterprise.

Many of the MVP’s were asking about Groove, and SharePoint, and how the two would play together in the future. In fact, at both Ray Ozzie’s keynote, and Steve Ballmer’s keynote, the MVP’s brought their Groove questions to the microphone.

When an MVP asked Steve Ballmer for his views on the future of Groove, Ballmer responded:

SharePoint offline, I’ll just make a name up. That shows I’m not going to get any marketing awards, but would you like the design center for Groove to evolve to be much more SharePoint offline, or would you be happy to continue to see the two proceed with related, but independent, design points?”

Another MVP asked about Microsoft’s future plans for Groove during Ray’s keynote.

Q:  “Is Groove the future UI (user interface) for SharePoint, because that would be just — when you talk about your software as a service and talk about exposing services in new ways and in new UIs, there’s a lot of overlap there? It seems like Groove really ought to be the way to leverage SharePoint on the desktop.

<Ray> “You asked if Groove is the future UI of SharePoint. I might ask the same thing, is SharePoint the future UI of Groove…. They (Groove and SharePoint) are very, very complementary, and you will see in 14 and beyond increasing association with the things that you can do in SharePoint, and the things that you can do with Groove and the client, increasing levels of connections, both specific functions of the UI that are designed to work seamlessly with one another, increasingly the semantics underneath being brought together and so on. So, it’s a good observation, and, yes, that is the strategy.”

ZDNET News writer Mary Jo Foley was there and describes her view of what transpired:  http://blogs.zdnet.com/microsoft/?p=1347 .

Here’s our take on this: Given where we are in the development cycle, it’s too early for us to be anything BUT cryptic in our response about futures. However, there is one aspect of the story that we have been discussing quite openly every chance we get: Groove’s relationship to SharePoint. Groove has an innovative client architecture. SharePoint has a powerful server/services architecture. It is easy to see the potential there for a great “better together” story.

We scratched the surface of this potential with the Groove SharePoint Files tool, part of Groove 2007 (more on this). Groove’s heritage is in extending collaborative workspaces, across networks, with strong security, By connecting Groove 2007 to SharePoint, real world project teams can work together across organizational and network boundaries, on or offline. Consider how Allianz, a global insurance and financial services company, uses Groove and SharePoint together to provide a business continuity solution for its customers (http://www.microsoft.com/casestudies/casestudy.aspx?casestudyid=4000001736).

The future of Groove? Well, clearly we aren’t done with the SharePoint integration. Some of the more noticeable limitations of the current solution: we sync files, but no lists. We support versions and check in and checkout from SharePoint, but there is more work to be done there. And although you get the files to sync to Groove, you don’t get the metadata, or extended attributes, of the file. And don’t forget (no one lets us forget) search.

What we hear from customers, and what we hear in this question to Ray, and in the questions directed at SteveB is some frustration that we haven’t gone far enough, fast enough with delivering on the potential of the Groove/SharePoint integration. But in the questions, and in the responses, we also hear support for a strategic use of the Groove client architecture coupled to the infrastructure of SharePoint technologies.

Make no mistake, we’re excited about the future of Groove as part of the Office system. Stay tuned.

--abbott and Matt.

link to this article:http://blogs.technet.com/groove/archive/2008/04/21/mvp-s-discuss-the-future-of-microsoft-office-groove.aspx

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