Has Groove fallen from grace?

by Volker Weber

Many people have asked me whether Groove has fallen from grace at vowe's magic flying circus. It has not. I still like it a lot. There is only one simple problem: It is bound to Windows. As I am not using Windows a lot these days, you won't see me in Groove.

My requirements for software are rather simple. I need to communicate with e-mail and instant messaging. After years of proprietary protocols e-mail has gravitated around the same protocols and standards: SMTP, POP3, IMAP, RFC822, MIME. [Microsoft still has IMAP all mixed up, they insist on MAPI. :-)] So you are free to mix and match servers and clients. My choice of server happens to be Lotus Domino 6, my clients range from Mail.app over Mozilla to Notes. Instant messaging is a different story. Protocols are a mess. "Free" IM networks are basically gated communities and therefore do not interoperate. You can find your way around that limitation with multiprotocol clients like Trillian (Windows) or Fire (Mac) but in the end it turned out that most of the people are on AIM anyway so I am using iChat on the Mac and Trillian on Windows (because I dislike the AIM client).

So I have a rather primitive way to collaborate. How do I connect various users in a better fashion? Well, I want to use Groove but I can't. For the reason stated above but also since I have to communicate with people who do use Windows but are not allowed to install client software because they work in a controlled corporate environment. In these cases I have to use either the corporate environment, im my case often Notes, or fall back to a Web-based collaboration environment.

As far as gerneral purpose applications are concerned the world has standardized on Microsoft Office. So that is what I am using there. If anyone insists on getting their stuff in Powerpoint file format so be it. You have to dumb down some thoughts seriously to fit them on a slide, but one can do that as requested.

When I am writing manuscripts, I do not use office. I need to create simple, unformatted text. The only help I need is a simple editor, conveniently called Textedit on the Mac, and a spell checker. Mac OS has a system wide spell checker that can do multilingual text so I can actually type away in Germish :-) and still have the help of a spell checker. This is how that looks:


As far as the more sophisticated multimedia applications are concerned: I am happy with everything that is built into Mac OS X. There are also cross platform development tools, there are screenshot utilities and simple graphic editors. In the end there are only two programs I am missing on the Mac: Visio and Groove. Since they are both firmly in the Microsoft camp, I need to look elsewhere. Stay tuned.


Depending on your diagramming needs, OmniGraffle may serve as a replacement for Visio. I've pretty happily switched to OmniGraffle for creating illustrations in documents and such.

Regarding Groove, I feel your pain.

Eric Hancock, 2003-04-06

> [Microsoft still has IMAP all mixed up, they insist on MAPI. :-)]

Well, actually Exchange is an excellent IMAP-server, and Outlook and Outlook Express support IMAP, too (not perfect, but still better than many other mail-apps)

Benjamin, 2003-04-06

Benjamin, you are right - that was a low blow. That used to be a nice joke a few years ago but MS indead has opened up the server.

Volker Weber, 2003-04-06

Hm, you're saying "but in the end it turned out that most of the people are on AIM anyway"...
Being a heavy IM user myself I can't quite backup that statement. I have multiple rather disjunct groups of friends, due to several different periods of staying abroad and some job changes. I can observe different preferences in almost each of those groups.
From my early college days, most users are still on ICQ, that's been the first usable IM client and so they sticked with it.
The people from my college days in the US mostly use M$N, most of them just take what's on their system when it is shipped, plus the sysadmins in the college labs didn't dare to remove that client from public PCs so it was available virtually throughout campus.
With my former fellow workers at IBM/Lotus I usually keep in touch via AIM (if not Notes Mail ;-)), that probably is due to the reason that they are using Sametime internally anyway and conveniently enough the Sametime client also talks AIM...
The only clear point I can make is that Yahoo!IM is an absolute looser in my contacts. The only people that have an account there are the ones I converted to be Trillian users and since it's there, they also signed up for Yahoo. Oh, and there are some Yahoo groups we are in, also, so accounts were already there for some.
Concludingly I tend to say, the preference for an IM client/protocol seems to heavily depend on the environment you're in. After all, I must say, most of them don't differ that much anymore, as far as the basic features are concerned. And stuff like screensharing, audio/video conferencing, file transfer... I know better tools for that than my IM client.
In some aspects I might not be the major target group, admitted, but hey, the majority of people do exchange brief text messages over IM. I'd be VERY interested in some serious market analysis on this though.

Just my two cents...


Ragnar Schierholz, 2003-04-06

Ragnar, you have some valid points there. It just happens that most of the people that I know and care about are on AIM. Of course the other networks have millions of subscribers as well.

I was using Yahoo for a while myself. Unfortunately at some point in time it became unreliable. People showed up as being online when they were not. Then a bunch of people I know moved on to MSN, which also did not work very well with our firewalls. We ended up using AIM and have had better results.

I agree with you that it depends very much on your community and what they use.

I am also really curious why Groove does not partner with MSN as Lotus did with AOL. Why would you need to run another IM client alongside Groove?

Volker Weber, 2003-04-06

TextEdit is great; I still don't have a "proper" word processor on my Mac, and neither I nor my wife miss one.

The development tools ain't bad either ;-)

I am managing a pilot of Groove at a large pharma company in the US. I used to work for IBM/Lotus and when comparing Lotus Notes/Sametime/Quickplace to Groove, Lotus wins on several points and Groove wins on several points.

The whole Lotus suite of collaboration/messaging products is so much more complete, stable, and functional than Groove. However, the financial investment is so much more significant that for a small or medium-sized business, already committed to the Windows platform, Groove makes perfect sense.

I also believe the Groove IM features are slightly less mature than Sametime. And it should be easier to pull apart the IM from the Groove interface (perhaps with palettes?).

Neil, 2003-10-16

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