Ray Ozzie on Longhorn & Groove Networks - Page 2

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SG: Ive jokingly suggested it would be 2008 before we actually see Longhorn. Whats the opportunity for Groove between now and then?

Ozzie: We stay focused on solving the business problem that were working on, which is to reduce the cost of coordination between individuals. The good news about Longhorn is … I dont know if youve looked into the peer contact stuff that theyre doing, but its tremendously exciting to me because essentially its very similar to what weve done in Groove, except taken deeper--down to the file share level,

In Groove we have this model where we distribute contacts to people with vCards. In Longhorn, its very similar – they call them iCards or Information Cards – but you essentially serialize your identity and send it to people. And once youve sent it in a peer way, you can do a net use. Its at a very low level and its very similar to Groove. I am totally pumped about that, because when we go talk to IT people now we can say "Hey look, you see this stuff in Groove? Thats where theyre going too. So get your practices in place…." The more of us who can talk in this way to IT, the more they become comfortable with it.

Generally, we sell more to line of business IT than to corporate IT because thats where theres business pain. For corporate IT, when they encounter Groove, and this peer authentication model, this is the first time theyve dealt with it in their environment. And now that Longhorn has sort of come out of the closet, we can bring Longhorn into the conversation and say "See, this what youre going to be dealing with in that environment, too." Its good for both parties.

In terms of an actual investment in code, we have to go through the same thing that every ISV has to go through – timing the investments to the ship date. If you over-invest too soon its problematic. Were still a startup. Yes, were investing, but the investment increases as a function of how close to market it is.

SG: In the interim, will you alter your core infrastructure to emulate what Microsoft is doing, or will you wait?

Ozzie: Its not so much emulating. At any given point in time, a prudent engineer will look at the next version of whats coming down the pike, and if you have an opportunity to re-architect whats coming down, you do it. So, for example, when we knew Office 11 [2003] was coming down the pike, 18 months ago, we started recoding stuff in Groove to take advantage of certain things that were going to be in WSS [Windows Sharepoint Services] and Office 11. Thats the great thing about having a close working relationship with Microsoft -- knowing whats coming down the pike.

In WinFS, for example, we are starting already to re-conceptualize how we deal with record storage in our forms tool. Were re-conceptualizing how some of our contact stuff works—not in a big bang sense but as we do version after version we reshape it so we can intersect it at that right time, so that when WinFS becomes real, were ready to store records directly in the OS. Or when contacts are in the OS that our infrastructure is ready to either federate or unify our contacts with the contact infrastructure. That when the Sidebar is in place, our UI is already refactored enough such that its easy to take the components we want to put into the sidebar and rehost them there. Its progressive.

Next page: New details on Mac, Sun and Linux versions of Groove.