Let’s Get that GDN+Groove Thang ON!

Sweet, sweet music to my ears! Microsoft has purchased Groove Networks and appointed its founder, Ray Ozzie, as our new Chief Technology Officer (CTO).

Groove is social computing.

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.

Comments (16)
  1. anu says:

    I love the concept of Groove, but boy it’s crying out to have some kind of version control added into it…know anyone who can help with that 😉

    But great move for both companies, I think…I look forward to seeing where Groove goes with access to much more resource.

    Kinda kills off the multi-platform dream though, I guess.

  2. Matt Howard says:

    I am not Ray. I am not the Janitor. But, i have spent a ton of time in Redmond during the past 3 years, and, i absolutely loved your posting. Thanks for your "folksy" hospitaility.

  3. Todd Joseph says:

    You’re on. Anything for a cold one — especially if it’s free.

  4. Great comments, Anu. Version control is indeed lacking. You’d think we would’ve baked it into the OS a long time ago. Alas, I am optimistic (with absolutely no data to back me up) that the version control marketplace will change dramatically and for the better within the next 5 years, making end user versioning (ala Office docs), much easier and more intuitive: think, ctrl+z across sessions. At the same time, source control tools like Team Foundation, which cater to the needs of software development teams, will continue to evolve more slowly because there will always be a need for process, visual tools, new and more intuitive differencing interfaces, more horsepower, and the ability to perform sci-fi tasks like using a source control app to merge two scenes of a movie into one.

    Fortunately, Groove falls into the first category, not the second.

  5. Hank Fay says:

    We’ve been using Groove with all our clients for about 3 years now (we are a distributed team, with varying members by project). Obviously we love it. It has about two or three major versions to go before it is there — and we couldn’t be nearly as effective with out it.

    That said, one has to wish Mr. Ozzie well: Redmond has a history of taking really bright people who have created dynamite products into its fold and turning them into warmly remembered, talented collectors of string instruments or the such. (Check with the VFP team for the reference…)

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