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.