Got your Groove on? Microsoft Groove that is

As evidenced by the past few posts, I’ve been evaluating the latest edition of Microsoft Office, Office 2007. I first came across Groove quite by accident. I was looking to create a new folder and so right-clicked on my desktop. I noticed a new and unfamiliar icon and conducted a Google search to see what on earth it was.

As it turns out, it wasn’t spyware (yes, I know I’m talking about Microsoft here) but rather a link to a new piece of software included in the Enterprise edition of Microsoft Office. This software operates on a peer-to-peer level using technologies originally developed by Groove Networks. Rather than collaborative materials being stored on a central server, they are distributed to the desktop of each team member. This might serve to assuage some of the fears some hold over their files being stored by someone other than themselves, i.e. Google.

Each Groove Workspace can include any or all of the following components:

  • Calendar
  • Chess Game (all work and no play y’know)
  • Discussion
  • Files
  • Forms
  • InfoPath Forms
  • Issue Tracking
  • Meetings
  • Notepad
  • Pictures
  • SharePoint Files
  • Sketchpad

The workspace itself is shown in the image below. The tools are available in tabs at the bottom of the workspace.

Here are a couple of useful links to learn more:
Wikipedia: Microsoft Office Groove
Microsoft Office Groove
Microsoft Groove Tutorial

Now the bad news, this is obviously a commercial product so there is a licensing cost involved. While Groove is included with the Enterprise version of Office 2007, it can apparently also be licensed through Microsoft individually. A cursory examination of their site did not reveal a pricing structure. So while this might be a great option for businesses or organizations with a Microsoft campus license, it is not likely to gain widespread adoption in the education arena due to its exclusive nature. Another option that may be available to schools with computers purchased after February 2007 might be the Meeting Space collaboration tool embedded within the Vista operating system. While not as robust as Groove, in terms of available features and functionality, Meeting Space might serve to facilitate synchronous collaborative efforts through its abilities to distribute agendas and files, share desktop screens and presentations and link activities.

Either way, it seems that only just now is Microsoft catching the “groove” that the rest of the web has enjoyed for the last couple years. It still has a long road ahead.

[tags]microsoft, groove, collaboration, software, office2007 [/tags]

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