Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Why did Microsoft cripple Groove?

I'm currently trying to use Microsoft Groove 2007 as a collaboration tool to gather requirements. What I like about tools like Groove is:

- You can open and edit an entry without having to start an additional application (like word, excel)
- You can copy and paste pictures (screenshots) directly into an entry
- You don't have to save and re-attach changed files
- You can work offline
- Groove works inside and outside of our network out-of-the-box
- We have (as a Microsoft Gold Partner) 100 licenses available

What I don't understand about the current offering is that a lot of tools available in the last version have been removed:

The following tools and toolsets are no longer available for adding to new or existing workspaces: Contact Manager, Discussion, Document Review, Outliner, Task Manager, Text, Tic-Tac-Toe, Web Links, Welcome Page, Advanced Project Toolset, and Mobile Workspace for SharePoint.

(Source: Microsoft Office Groove Help)


There is also a large set of other features that have been removed:
  • Co-editing of Word documents.

  • Presenting of PowerPoint slide shows.

  • File viewers in the Groove Files Tool.

  • Outlook Calendar integration with the Groove Calendar and Groove Meetings tools.

  • Launching Netmeeting.

  • Sending an Outlook email thread to a Groove workspace.
    (Source: Microsoft Office Groove Help)


There is a button to browse online for additional tools; but the webpage you are directed to, doesn't contain any tools. Even for adding custom tools, the only option seem to be forms - but the Infopath forms integration is very limited.

Now I do understand that Microsoft wants to streamline it's offering, but this seems like crippling an existing application into oblivion. What is the problem of offering different ways to do the same thing? I see that presenting PowerPoint slide shows conflicts with Microsoft Office Live offerings - but if users already pay for a Groove license, why can't they use that feature in the application they already work in? There are also a lot of similar services available in Sharepoint; but there I need to be online (except when using Groove to sync Sharepoint files - note the irony) and I always have to start external applications to do anything. It seems to me, that Microsoft bought Groove to make it disappear.
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