Moving Groove Upstream

By Matthew Hicks  |  Posted 2005-03-11 Print this article Print

"Primarily their buyers have been individuals in teams to do collaboration work, and they bought it as a tactical solution for those teams," Burton said. "[But] theyre still fairly small in terms of numbers of customers… They had not moved upstream, and we saw that as major problem for them." Microsofts decision to buy Groove is as much about gaining technology as it is about beating out its top competitors, Burton said.
Microsoft also is gaining a luminary in the collaboration market, Ray Ozzie. Ozzie is best known as the creator of Lotus Note, which is now a product owned by IBM. In 1997, he founded Groove, based in Beverly, Mass. Ozzie will become a Microsoft chief technology officer and will report to Chairman Bill Gates.
"The addition of Ray Ozzie is a point of credibility and in many respects is Microsoft thumbing their nose at IBM," Burton said. "Once [Microsoft] got its heads around the fact that collaboration is important to them, they had to make sure that IBM didnt grab Groove." Over time, Groove has gradually honed what it now calls the Groove Virtual Office product to be a way for groups to share files and workspaces even when they are distributed across different companies and various messaging and collaboration systems, said Peter OKelly, a senior analyst at the Burton Group. Click here to read an eWEEK Labs review of Groove Virtual Office 3.0. With the Groove acquisition, Microsoft is filling a missing piece in its collaboration offerings and recognizing that workgroups often include users on non-Microsoft platforms, even within the same enterprise, OKelly said. Groove, for example, offers users the ability to access collaborative workspaces when they are offline, something thats missing in Microsofts SharePoint product, OKelly said. "Until recently, people would have argued that Microsoft does not have a comprehensive strategy and vision for communications and collaboration," OKelly said. "This will galvanize things and bring together [a strategy] more rapidly." Check out eWEEK.coms for more on IM and other collaboration technologies.

Matthew Hicks As an online reporter for, Matt Hicks covers the fast-changing developments in Internet technologies. His coverage includes the growing field of Web conferencing software and services. With eight years as a business and technology journalist, Matt has gained insight into the market strategies of IT vendors as well as the needs of enterprise IT managers. He joined Ziff Davis in 1999 as a staff writer for the former Strategies section of eWEEK, where he wrote in-depth features about corporate strategies for e-business and enterprise software. In 2002, he moved to the News department at the magazine as a senior writer specializing in coverage of database software and enterprise networking. Later that year Matt started a yearlong fellowship in Washington, DC, after being awarded an American Political Science Association Congressional Fellowship for Journalist. As a fellow, he spent nine months working on policy issues, including technology policy, in for a Member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He rejoined Ziff Davis in August 2003 as a reporter dedicated to online coverage for Along with Web conferencing, he follows search engines, Web browsers, speech technology and the Internet domain-naming system.

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