In 2002, when I was working on the Visual Studio Core IDE, my good friend Jonathan, who's now living the dream as a User Experience Architect at another company, flew into my office and said, "DUDE, have you seen Groove?" It was a typical question and a time-honored ritual commenced.
"Dude," I said, returning my eyes to my monitor, "not yet but I should, huh?" "Oh yeah," he replied, "It rocks!" As my browser loaded, I typed "w-w-w.g-r-o-o-v-e", ".net", Jonathan prompted me, as he circled my desk and drew up a chair beside me like the creative director of Boogie Monster, Inc. He leaned into my monitor and said, "There!" stabbing at the screen, click on "Try Workspaces." Minutes later we were taking turns at the whiteboard, adapting Groove Workspaces concepts to the Visual Studio Core IDE, a crucial part of which Jonathan owned: community. Jonathan and I test drove Workspaces in tandem for a year and continued to do so even after he left the team for greener pastures.
For end-user application designers like Jonathan and me, Groove is like one of those folk singers that most people have never heard about but which nearly every popular musician counts among their top five role models. Groove has inspired and informed my work in countless ways. It is sleek, beautiful, immersive, intuitive, extensible, conceptually well-centered and holistic, almost self-documenting but well-documented nonetheless, fast, and reliable. Admittedly, I don't use it every day but I would if I could and it's looking like I might someday, in one form or another.
A couple of years ago, a bright bulb in MSFT finance decided to invest a few million bucks in Groove Networks. What the heck? Chump change, right? At the time, I just knew this investment was a prelude to a bigger one: a first dance, if you will. The following year, we invested another $51 million in Groove. Software of the caliber that Groove builds is rarely the product of an average team and I am stoked that the Groove team is now part of the Microsoft team.
I look forward to test driving two of their latest offerings, Virtual Office and Groove Web Services, and I also plan to hang out in their Groove Rapid Solutions Exchange for a while. Have you test driven either of these applications? If so, what were your impressions?
To all members of the Groove Networks team: Whenever you are in Redmond, give me a holler or drop by my office. I don't care if you're Ray Ozzie or the janitor, I'll make some time to chat. I've got a blank slate, two whiteboards, a spare computer, ample desk spac,e and a chair marked "Reserved for Groove Team Members" on it. Give me a few minutes notice and I'll even have a few cold Northwest microbrews on hand when you arrive.