Groove, Microsoft Tighten Relationship

Companies look to make their collaboration apps more complementary.

Groove Networks Inc. and Microsoft Corp. are extending their technology partnership as each readies new versions of their respective collaborative applications.

Groove is expected this month to release Version 2.5 of its namesake peer-to-peer collaboration software, Workspace Professional Edition, which offers improved support for Microsofts .Net and Web services integration.

Microsoft last week made available Version 1.5 of its MSI (Microsoft Solution for Intranets), which uses the Redmond, Wash., companys Content Management Server, SharePoint Portal Server, SharePoint Team Services and other technologies to build collaborative applications.

A new feature in MSI 1.5 is Microsoft Producer, software for creating rich-media presentations that synchronizes audio, video and PowerPoint slides for on-demand viewing. In addition, the upgrade boasts tighter integration with Microsoft Content Management Server, support for .Net Framework for Web services development, and patterns and practices documentation for building collaborative solutions on Microsoft technology.

Groove, of Beverly, Mass., will take advantage of MSI 1.5 by providing Windows client software that will allow users disconnected from a network to continue to work with SharePoint Team Services Web sites. They will be able to update documents, add calendar items and contribute to discussions. When Groove Workspace users re-connect to the network, any updates made will automatically synchronize with the SharePoint Team Services site.

Groove Workspace for MSI 1.5 will be jointly marketed by Microsoft and Groove and be available within 30 days from Grooves direct sales team. It will be included in Groove Workspace Professional Edition 2.5.

This version of the Groove software will include a new .Net development tool, Groove Toolkit for Visual Studio .Net, which company officials said will make it easier and faster to build and deploy customer applications in Groove.

The Groove upgrade will feature the Groove Web Services area in this release, as well as give developers a new route to integrate Groove with other applications using Simple Object Access Protocol. Customers will be able to build Groove-awareness into other applications—so-called contextual collaboration—rather than build the applications inside the Groove environment.

In addition to the SharePoint Team Services integration, Groove 2.5 will support improved integration with Microsoft Outlook, supporting Outlook calendars, meetings and contacts.

Dana Gardner, an analyst at Aberdeen Group Inc., in Boston, said that the Microsoft-Groove partnership brings together two complementary technologies—SharePoints Internet capabilities and Grooves client/server extranet capabilities.

"You can centralize [collaboration] on an Internet architecture but export it to a controlled area with offline capabilities," said Gardner.