Microsoft's Ozzie: SharePoint, Groove 'Very Complementary'


That's the message from Ray Ozzie's keynote speech last week at Microsoft's MVP Summit in Seattle, where the company's chief software architect outlined Microsoft's plans to build closer ties between SharePoint and Groove.

In a Q&A at last week's event, an audience member asked Ozzie, who came to Microsoft in 2005 as part of the software giant's purchase of Groove Networks, if Microsoft is considering making Groove the future user interface for SharePoint.

Ozzie acknowledged that this was indeed the case, but answered the question with a smidge of Zen-like mysticism. "You asked if Groove is the future UI of SharePoint. I might ask the same thing, is SharePoint the future UI of Groove," Ozzie said.

Microsoft will increase the connections between SharePoint and Groove by tying together specific functions of the user interface in the two products that are designed to work seamlessly with one another, Ozzie said.

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"[SharePoint and Groove] are very, very complementary, and you will see in [Office] 14 and beyond increasing association with the things that you can do in SharePoint, and the things that you can do with Groove and the client," said Ozzie.

But some Sharepoint MVPs think too much overlap exists between Sharepoint and Groove, and that this can be a source of confusion for customers. "When you use the products, there is no question that they do have some overlap," said Michael Smith, a Microsoft Exchange MVP based in Charlottesville, Va.

The combination of SharePoint and Groove gives enterprises more than enough to meet their need for online and offline collaboration, says Ken Winell, CEO of Expertcollab, a SharePoint-focused solution provider in Florham Park, N.J.

But the fact that Groove includes some of SharePoint capabilities, such as document management and creating folders, means that some users might decide that they don't need SharePoint at all, Winell said.

"For organizations that have a lot of mobile workers, Groove plus SharePoint gives the widest coverage. But if you're in a normal corporate environment, where the bulk of the organization is in a connected space, it makes more sense to do SharePoint," said Winell. "For me going in, I start with the SharePoint toolset, and Groove is a plug-in."

Jeff Roback, CEO at Praxis Computing, a Los Angeles-based solution provider, says the ideal direction for Microsoft to pursue with SharePoint and Groove would be to develop a document management system than synchronizes to local laptops.

"That's what everyone wants," said Roback. "Both Sharepoint and Groove each do some of that, but not well. Ultimately the workflows aren't there yet in either product. Groove does some of it without a central server, and Sharepoint does it with a central server."