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Overview on Office Groove 2007

Posted by dariosantarelli on March 2, 2007

We can define Microsoft Office Groove 2007 as a kind of “meta-application”, including a sort of file-manager (but not only…) and a virtual desktop groupware. It wasn’t born in Microsoft: actually, it was created by Groove Networks, and then sold to Microsoft (strange..;)).
Groove offers a set of tools for sharing informations inside the Web 2.0: nowadays, instant on-line collaboration is an actual need and there are dozens of free services or spaces, available for storing groups and projects documents.
Differently from any kind of Web-based collaboration system, Groove 2007 has a great advantage: the optimized integration with the operative system. By default, Groove 2007 is installed in the Windows tray area and runs a background process. Real-time users communication is also implemented as an event-based video notifiying system and the project documents is always monitored.
Moreover, if you desire a manual folder synchronization, you can execute this operation directly from Windows desktop, by using a command activable through right-click.
OK, let’s take a look!!!
The first operation to do is the account creation. The Groove account is registered on a central server and bound to an email address or, for enterprise accounts, to a configuration code set by a system administrator (see also Office Groove Server 2007).
After the first access (registration), Groove 2007 lists the current user’s workspaces and a contacts list concerning people which sharing Groove projects with.

Working with Office Groove 2007

The Groove 2007 main window looks like a file manager: inside it, there’s a list of workspace files. These files are shared with other projects participants, shown on the right panel (as you can see, there are on-line contacts and current workspace participants). Each participant uses a simple shared folder in his PC, which all the workspace documents are copied in. Logically, any kind of file can be shared and opened.

By default, the participants folders automatically synchronize themselves, in order to make everybody able to work with the last document versions; moreover, manual synchronization is supported to avoid network overheads. Office Groove 2007 has its own strategy to face the critical problem concerning check-in/check-out: the file management (simultaneous opening, saving etc.) checks the active workspaces documents and if a file is opened by two or more users at the same time, Groove automatically proposes users to save the same document with different names. An advantage of this strategy is the great flexibility: there isn’t the risk concerning the impossibility of opening – at least in read mode – a document because it’s already used (a certain liberty is granted for all users ;)). In fact, creating double file copies to be manually merged in a single document couldn’t be useful.

Groove Modules

Inside Office Groove 2007, you can find a lot of very interesting tools. As you open a workspace, the active tools (tabs) are “document sharing” and “Discussion”, which can be used by users for writing messages in a forum-like style. In the right zone of the application, beside the workspace participants list, you can find some common commands and a chat area, for instant messaging.
Actually, other Groove 2007 tools can be activated: shared calendars, images galleries, problems management pages, blocknotes (in which you can both write and draw) and so on..
You can also create custom modules for inserting business data in an archive or integrating Infopath modules in the Groove interface. In particular, you can add a page for planning meetings and new file collections – created or imported directly from a SharePoint portal.
Inside a workspace, all the users can freely use and manipulate the active modules, obviously on the basis of assigned roles: in fact, different privileges (add/remove modules, invite users etc.) can be set on a user by a workspace administrator. A special mode, called “simultaneous”, allow users to move between different charts at the same time.

Conclusions

Nowadays, a groupware is a fundamental tool for an on-line collaboration and so the presence of a such application inside Office 2007 (Enterprise and Ultimate versions) is a great innovation. Anyway, a currently unsolved question concerns how much success this Microsoft solution will get in the future: currently, the groupware world is very large and rich of small (often free) web-based tools. Moreover, it will not be simple for an application available just in two “expensive” versions (Enterprise and Ultimate) to be spread outside an enterprise environment.

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One Response to “Overview on Office Groove 2007”

  1. Ran said

    Is there any manual or handbook for this application? I’ve installed it, hoping to be able to work on my own files both at home and in my office and I am in need of more detailed information.

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