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Groove 2.5 notes

Groove 2.5 doesn't bring me more joys than 2.0. But, it is still a really good P2P collaboration tool.

I tried to use Groove 2.0 last year. I really liked the idea, the ease of use, the architecture and the pricing. However, after using it for several months, and not getting enough people enthusiastic to try it out with me, I concluded that the things I didn’t like outweighed the benefits.

Groove is now at 2.5. All the issues I had with 2.0 still remain. Anyway, here is my first impression as a draft outline. To summarize, if you have a group that digs Groove, it can be a really good investment. I’m not sure how to make people love Groove though.

I. Overview

The Problem

How can we collaborate, working on different projects effectively? A project will have many artifacts including meetings, documents, policies, actions, tasks, strategies etc. How do we securely share this information within the team? How can we better work as "virtual teams"?

The Product

Groove Workspace:

Now in version 2.5, Groove is a very well designed and updated peer-to-peer collaboration suite. There is no need for any server installation. It allows people to work as virtual teams across the internet in a secure fashion. Standard Edition retails for $49 and professional edition goes for $149 per person.

The Vendor

Groove Networks

Founded and managed by Ray Ozzie, the chief architect of Lotus Notes, Groove Networks has been in business since October 1997. They already have more than $155 million in financing. They have active partnership and investment from Microsoft and Intel.

II. Benefits

Controlled by end user

The end user decides what goes inside their installation. For shared spaces that use particular tools, installation of tools at other collaborators' machines happen very easily.

It is a 27MB download. Download from internet is the only way to install Groove.

Very nice and (IMO) easy to use interface.

Doesn’t need to involve IT folks to start using it!

Integrated with Outlook, MS Office, MS Project etc.

Seamless integration with Outlook, including calendaring, easy creation of projects based on existing messages etc.

Easy integration with standard MS Office application to facilitate shared editing of documents.

Groove Professional’s Project Manager tool can export/import to MS Project.

Professional Edition integrates with MS SharePoint.

Integrated Collaboration

Instant Messaging
Audio Chat

If collaborators have audio equipped PCs, telephone bills can be saved.

You can broadcast audio to other members in the space. Similar to one-way radio operation.

Threaded Discussions
Team and Project Tools

Calendar, Meetings, Contacts

File sharing, collaborative editing

"Browse together"

Project Manager with dashboard showing upcoming meetings, assigned tasks etc. This does not aggregate across multiple spaces.

Form & Database Templates

One can easily create forms and templates

Capture data from forms directly into lists (spreadsheets)

Lot of other tools

Free and commercial

Groove Developers Kit can help us add our own tools. Programming new tools for Groove is pretty easy.

Online and Offline

Work the same way when you are offline too.

When you get online, you can collaborate with other online users.

No messy "synch my folders" routine. Transparent synchs.

Secure P2P

Communication is claimed to be secure.

No known security issues till now.

Don’t know what protocols are used.

III. Pricing

SE - Standard Edition, single user: $49

PE - Professional Edition, single user: $149

Starter Kit for small businesses = 10xPE: $1795

Starter Kit for workgroups = 5xPE + 5xSE: $895

Starter Kit for Teams = 5xPE: $795

IV. System Requirements

Microsoft Windows 98/NT4/2000/ME/XP

Intel Pentium 400MHz+

Minimum 64MB RAM with 32MB available for Groove (128MB recommended)

160MB free disk space (Installation, help, pluggable tools, reasonable sharable data).

Minimum display 800x600 with 32000 colors. (16MB Video RAM seems to behave much faster)

Sound card, microphone and speakers for voice features

V. Using Groove

Download 27MB Installer file.

Run it.

Create an account. Do not forget the password!

Create a shared space.

Invite people to the shared space.


VI. Risks & Missing Features

Not possible to recover password

Many tools lack print output

This is not for people who work using different machines

You can share your account across multiple computers

However, if you work using more than 2 computers, this is a pain to keep spaces updated, mainly because you need at least 2 computers to be switched on and connected to the internet to bring documents over.

Everything is driven through workspaces

Calendars, Todo items across spaces is not there

TeamDirection Inc. sells a tool that is a decent replacement for MS Project. This tool has a dashboard that aggregates across projects. $99 per user; volume discounts available.

VII. Bottomline

Price is right to try

It is a buy. Starter Kit for Workgroups costs only $895 and has enough licenses for a small group.


Try out the preview edition for couple of weeks. If the preliminary feeling is that it works, buy the option mentioned above and actively try using it.

  1. Groooooooooooooovy Baby!

    Posted by: Bob Jones on September 23, 2004 05:00 PM