Microsoft ties the knot with Groove

My former employer purchased Groove today, making official what was already a very close working relationship. I’d like to be optimistic about what the acquisition will mean for the information worker part of Microsoft’s business.

But let’s look at the track record that the Information Worker business unit has in bringing innovative products into the Office mainstream. Live Meeting? Kind of integrated, still largely a standalone product, but it’s out there and fighting for market share with WebEx. PowerPoint? Visio? FrontPage? OK. All standalone apps, all acquired, that fill a niche in the information worker workspace.

But what about XDocs? This brave internal project came out of ashes of NetDocs as a “smart client alternative to Office.” Where is it now? InfoPath, which is being marketed primarily as a forms app.

Will Microsoft tap the benefits of Groove and make them available in a rich way throughout the desktop? Or will Groove just end up looking like the next version of SharePoint, which currently looks like the next version of a generic company intranet tool?

Excellent additional coverage from Robert Scoble, John Evdemon, Scott Rosenberg, Ross Mayfield, and Alex Barnett.

And incidentally: Alex points to Jef Raikes talking about a product announcement that I missed earlier this week, the launch of something called “Microsoft Office Communicator 2005.” Sounds interesting. Go try to find something about it on Microsoft’s Office site. Did you find it? Did you try searching? Did you try changing the search dropdown from “All Office Online” to “All” Ah, there we go. Hint to our friends on the Office web site: If you want to sell a product as part of the Office family, it would be a good idea to make it findable from the Office web page.

Chris Lydon gets a new gig

The Boston Globe says that Chris Lydon is returning to Boston airwaves with a new show, “Open Source,” designed to bridge talk radio and the blogosphere. (See Chris’s press release here). Sounds pretty good—and I smell a new podcast coming…

Interestingly, an article in the Globe today says some students at WUML, who will be co-producing the show, are a little upset that the school’s administration has put Lydon on their schedule—the students feel they’re losing control of their schedule. The administration says that Lydon will be helping to create a broadcast major. It sounds like a win-win for the school and Lydon, but I can definitely see how the students would feel marginalized in that discussion—especially since this isn’t the first time the school has taken air time for “adult-supervised” programming from the student DJs.