Ray Ozzie on Longhorn & Groove Networks

Interview: Ray Ozzie, developer of Notes and Groove Networks, on the future of collaboration, Longhorn and Groove.

Since the early days of his development of Lotus Notes, Ray Ozzie has competed vigorously with Microsoft while working closely with Redmond as a leading ISV on the Windows platform. Now, with Microsofts significant investment in Ozzies Groove Networks, the collaboration has broadened. In the aftermath of Microsofts Professional Developers Conference in Los Angeles, Ozzie spoke about Longhorn and Groove with eWEEK Contributing Editor Steve Gillmor.

SG: What are your gut feelings about Microsofts Longhorn Wave?

Ozzie: If anybody had any doubt that the rich client is alive and well, this should extinguish any of that doubt. They are pouring billions into keeping the rich client alive and well and healthy, and there are just an amazing number of very smart people working on the stuff. Yeah, its early, but all I can hope is that a lot of people pay attention to it. And at the appropriate time, sensitive to how people can make investments over long periods of time, I hope we see a lot of new interesting stuff come out, because there are a tremendous number of new services that are going to be available on the client side. Im pretty psyched about it.

SG: You spent all week at the PDC.

Ozzie: Yes. Were a Longhorn design partner so were very familiar with it, but what I was absorbing more than anything else was how Microsoft was positioning how it works to the developer community. Thats very important.

SG: Where are you in your goal of componentizing the Groove services?

Ozzie: We started out as probably the most componentized app thats ever been written with COM—its COM to the extreme. About a year ago, though, we sent the message out to our partner base that the COM way of doing things is obviously not strategic any more and we would be shifting toward Web services. And progressively, we are refactoring and re-exposing all of the services that were available on the COM side of the world out via Web services.

Some of those Web services only make sense when run essentially on localhost; some of them make sense when youre talking to a Bot server; some make sense on the client. Whats in V2.5 right now, I would characterize as first light. In the next major version of Groove, we will continue to make progress. Will it be as robust as our COM surface area? No. But were making a lot of progress.

SG: Theres been some controversy about Microsoft moving away from some of the core Web services standards with Longhorn. Do you share this concern?

Ozzie: I dont share it with Indigo. Indigo is Microsofts standards offering, so if anything Indigo is absolutely standard in its implementation. Those are the people who are doing the collaborative stuff with IBM and WS-I, so no Im not concerned. In fact, quite the opposite.

SG: The concern is that in the area of XSD and XAML we seem to have a partitioning of the rich client into the core Windows calls versus the standards-based Internet API calls.

Ozzie: Right. On XAML, I am totally with Microsoft on that one. What theyre doing there is essentially a textual representation of the object model. Its not like they have the option to separately parse it and figure out elegant mappings. You write part of your classes in code and part of your classes declaratively. I dont think they have a choice there about standards or not. From where I stand I dont see any mischievous behavior. During the Hailstorm controversy they got beaten up quite a bit by not paying attention to standards. As a result, much of the schema effort that theyve done is the result of all the hard lessons learned from Hailstorm.

SG: Do you see the Hailstorm DNA in Longhorn?

Ozzie: Certainly in things like Contact schema. What they learned in Hailstorm was that every single group in Microsoft, no matter what they were doing, had the representation of a contact in their own internal data structures. And they went through unbelievable efforts internally to sort out what would be a good way of schematizing a contact.

Next page: Ozzies view of the future of Groove.