Jive Software Oct. 28 released Social Business Suite 4.0, adding integration with Microsoft Office that prompted Jive CEO Dave Hersh to claim the company is turning Office into a Google Docs-like platform.
SBS 4.0 has several new features, but eWEEK is focusing on the key areas that make this refreshed cloud computing product interesting.
Jive Microsoft Office Connector is a software module that lets SBS 4.0 users work on any Microsoft Office document, spreadsheet or presentation in Jive or from their desktop. This bridge is a big deal for users tired of the traditionally siloed workflow of Office applications, where nothing that doesn't have Microsoft code in it may pass.
It works like this: When users create and save Office content on their desktop, it is automatically published to Jive, where the content is rendered for viewing and commenting directly from the browser. These documents are rendered in the Jive SBS cloud in full Office fidelity; in the past, users would have to download the document and view it in a separate window on their desktop, not the Internet.
Jive, which like rivals MindTouch, Socialtext, Awareness and IBM believes that the lines between social software and collaboration software have blurred, lets users view and reply to comments made in the browser directly from the plug-in in Microsoft Office.
In the spirit of team collaboration, multiple contributors can make comments and changes into an Office file in near real time, with the add-on syncing users' changes bidirectionally on the fly. For example, one user can work on the graphics of a PowerPoint presentation while another works on the script, and both workers see changes in the file as they happen. Changes rendered in SBS 4.0 are visible in the Office file and vice versa in near real time.
This co-authoring capability is an answer to Google Wave, whose XMPP-fueled cursors bounce around the screen, allowing users to edit each other's work.