Let me start by saying that I work for a company who is a HUGE Microsoft partner. I live and work in Visual Studio, Outlook, Office, Project, SQL Server… you name it and have recently even found myself highlighting the merits of Windows to a few co-workers who have started taking on a Mac-loving isolationist attitude. I’m not bashful about stating that Microsoft products have been my bread and butter for a long time. But I’m finding it really difficult to contain my underwhelmedness (is that a word?) on the Groove 2007 release.
In an effort to get our project proposal teams to work more fluidly together I recently found myself championing Groove 2007 in front of the IT management of our company. This is after having worked with Groove (a version previous to 2007) at a client company and being pretty pleased with what it added to the dynamic of group collaboration. After installing the 2007 version this week I have to say that I am sorely disappointed in what Groove offers in its current feature set. Honestly, it should be considered a beta in its current state. I’m not even sure how it earned the “Office” badge (it is currently bundled in as a Microsoft Office product) considering its lack of integration with Office 2007 in general.
After reading this FAQ on Microsoft’s website it was evident that some key features just didn’t make it in to this release. I refer to it as the Groove apologetics document.
Here’s what I was looking forward to seeing in Groove 2007 that is totally MIA:
- More integration with Sharepoint 2007. I can have a Groove “files” tool synchronize with a Sharepoint document library and this is great, but where is:
- Calendar synchronization with Sharepoint?
- Task list synchronization (actually Groove 2007 doesn’t even have a task list at all!)?
- Synchronization of files with my local file system (i have to open a document from Groove for it to detect changes)
- Integration with Office 2007:
- The only detectable integration with MS Office that I could find was that it spawned a new email message to invite a new user to a workspace when asked. C’mon guys, really…
- Outlook should aggregate workspace calendars to provide a comprehensive view in my Outlook calendar.
- Project planning:
- Honestly when I first saw this feature in the previous version of Groove, I couldn’t imagine using it. But when I installed it this week I was actually looking forward to using its capabilities for organizing tiger teams to write responses to RFP’s, collaborating to write SOW’s and Proposals and the like. The FAQ document above seems to be positioning the calendar tool as a replacement for the project planner. Nope, I’m not buying it – it just won’t work like that. I can’t even approximate the value that a Gantt chart brings to project planning with a simple calendar. At least integrate MSProject into the mix.
Bottom line: Fine, you couldn’t get the good stuff in this release. I’m ok with that. Just don’t position it as though you did, and you might as well reduce the price on this version to be commensurate with the value it brings to business. (Say… ummm… $50 sounds about right).