Pointer to article:
Yeesh--I find myself habitually commenting on Microsoft announcements, as if they're where all the action is. I have to get out of the habit. But they certainly are a perennial action figure.
Anyway, as regards the Groove acquisition, this is one of those acquisitions that’s been expected for several years, and when it comes, it feels slightly disappointing. Though it’s definitely good for Microsoft and Groove (and their customers).
I’m actually happy that Microsoft waited till after the bloom was well off the “peer-to-peer” hype of a few years ago. Microsoft waited to see whether and how Groove and its approach would float in the post-bubble high-tech economy. Now Microsoft is buying Groove for all the right reasons: solid product, company, approach.
I’ve used Groove’s P2P collaboration tools and am not a fan. I consider Groove one of the clunkiest, overstuffed UIs in the collaboration space. Yeah, it’s sorta nice that I can cache all manner of external documents and other junk for offline perusal and don’t need to dial into some central server and so forth. But I found Groove’s stovepipe lack of integration with the rest of my collaboration clients—browser, e-mail, IM, etc.—to be frustrating and counterproductive. And I found Groove’s navigation paradigm to be maddeningly labyrinthine. I had been using it for months, and still was puzzled about where things were, or should be. And I got tired of being yoked to a “shared space” that I didn’t control—rather, others were dictating to me the organization of our shared environment—an organization that was optimal to them and bewildering to me.
I think Microsoft should take the good stuff from Groove—the P2P-based distributed file sharing/caching/synchronization features—and junk everything else. Microsoft should embed this core Groove technology into Office, Outlook, Windows Explorer, MSN Messenger, Live Communication Server, Internet Explorer, SharePoint Team Services, and the WiFi-based workgroup peer-LAN functionality within “Longhorn.” But present a rich-browser interface to it all (via XAML/”Avalon”) and radically simplify and converge the UI, integration, and management of all these scattered client and server components.
Because Microsoft’s collaboration environment is far too complex. They have no clear unification story on all this. If Ray Ozzie does anything as Microsoft’s collaboration CTO, it should be to bring some vision and discipline to reining in this growing mess. Ironically, if he does his job well, he’ll effectively have killed both of his babies: Groove technology as a stand-alone P2P environment, and Lotus Domino/Notes (or IBM Workplace, or whatever they’re calling it now) as a competitive force in the collaboration market.