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Microsoft Puts SharePoint in the Groove

Looking to corner a bigger chunk of the market for Web-based B2B collaboration software, Microsoft on Monday announced it would integrate its SharePoint Team Services software with the popular Groove Workspace product.

Microsoft, which owns about 20 percent of peer-to-peer firm Groove Networks, said the marriage of the two products would target the corporate market for a Web site service that works as a central repository of all project information-documents, contacts, tasks and discussions.

The companies said the combined service would support online and offline use and automatic synchronization and would work securely across company firewalls.

Beverly, Mass.-based Groove, which specializes in collaborative software and services, would be tasked with delivering the service as an integration kit that ties SharePoint Team Services into its Groove Workspace product. Microsoft said the product would be available by fall 2002. Pricing was not disclosed.

The company said Hewlett Packard has already signed on to use the integrated workplace collaboration software once it becomes available.

Groove Workspace, which is priced between $49 and $99 for standard or professional packages, is a conferencing-type collaboration product built by Lotus Notes developer Ray Ozzie in 1997. It allows users to share documents, draw diagrams and charts and edit documents from a Web-based interface in real time.

Once it gets tied into Microsoft's SharePoint, the plan is to let corporate teams directly access files stored on computers and communicate via instant messaging and chat. The software allows for file sharing, calendaring and collaborative product design.

The two companies have been working together on cross-selling or integrating technologies ever since Microsoft pumped $51 million into Groove as part of long-term plans to include peer-to-peer services into its all-encompassing .NET Web Services initiative.

Already, Microsoft and the privately held Groove Networks have integrated the Windows Messenger with the P2P platform. Groove's tools are also a big part of Microsoft Office XP, expanding on document collaboration tools.