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Alternative to Groove? 75

Posted by Cliff
from the searching-for-another-dance-partner dept.
jpmahala asks: "We had been using Groove internally at our company for quite some time (before the Microsoft buyout), and were interested in adding more users to the program. However, after clicking on the link to the store on Groove's website, I find a message from Microsoft that the product is no longer being offered. Following the link provided by Microsoft, I find that it is bundled into the Office2007 product now and it does not seem to be offered as a standalone product. I'm sad to see that sort of thing happen, and I am unwilling to upgrade everyone to Office2007 just for the sake of Groove. Is there any viable alternative out there?"
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Alternative to Groove?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 10, 2007 @09:14AM (#18299188)
    Microsoft Office Groove 2007 [amazon.com].

    If you've got a volume licence deal with Microsoft you'd do better upgrading to 2007 though: you'll need the Enterprise edition to get Groove bundled. And it is a pretty nice upgrade.
    • by noamsml (868075)
      That has to be the funniest name ever given to an enterprise product.
    • by frenetic3 (166950)
      Check out http://www.getdropbox.com/ [getdropbox.com] . It hasn't launched yet, but is very a similar product: think rsync for Windows that's actually pleasant to use -- integrated into the shell, low-overhead automatic/continuous backup based on filesystem change notifications, compressed binary diffs, etc.

      -Drew
      • by frenetic3 (166950)
        Full disclosure: I'm working on the product/service in the parent post -- but I feel the pain of no good integrated team sync/backup tool for Windows that also works with large files, large file sets, and doesn't require a PhD to use :)
  • Keep using the old stand-alone version.
    • by biglig2 (89374)
      You can probably even do it legally; buy office 2007 licences and put them in a cupboard labelled "in case of BSA break glass", and install more copies of your current Groove.

      Of course, if Groove has copy protection, that might give you some trouble. Though I suppose you can do a partial office install and only select groove...
  • Your best bet is probably to call a MS sales associate and tell them your situation. Maybe they can slide some licenses under the door, seeing that you're already a user and I'm sure your office already has full deployment of a suitable (ahem...::cough::) Office product.
  • ...and he started to describe it. I helpfully pointed out that "It sounds like Micro-Soft wants to charge for rsync".


    He just smiled.

    So I guess I'll have to look into it.

    Meanwhile, perhaps TFA is familiar with rsync?

    • It's exactly like rsync...if rsync was bundled into a browser file-saving interface, chat and web portal tool.

      In other words, if you want to keep your job, get that chip off your shoulder and start reading [microsoft.com].

      And to the original poster, there is NOTHING like this in the open source environment unless someone developed an OpenOffice plugin for creating dynamic drupal sites and sharing seamlessly with a Jabber client.
      • by blincoln (592401)
        if rsync was bundled into a browser file-saving interface, chat and web portal tool.

        I saw a presentation on Groove a few months ago, and this is actually what I didn't like about it. What's with companies trying to reinvent the wheel? They're never going to build their own chat, messaging, etc tools that are as good as the standalone products. Why don't they focus on making the unique aspects of their product strong?

        I did think the P2P file replication thing was a cool idea, although I can't see the company
  • by gregvr (518483) on Saturday March 10, 2007 @10:15AM (#18299416)
    We are in a very similar sticky situation as the original poster. We have a LOT of Groove 3.1 licenses and we want to buy more, but can't.

    Your upgrade path is Groove 2007-- as a previous poster noted, there is a stand-alone version.

    A couple of HUGE BIG ENORMOUS caveats:

    1. If you migrate your existing Groove account over to Groove 2007, it will completely disable your Groove 3.x account. You _CAN_ get it back by re-activating (like you did when you FIRST got Groove), but then that deactivates your Groove 2007!

    There is ABSOLUTELY no way to have a single Groove account coexist in 3.x and 2007.

    2. I am absolutely unsure about the way that Groove 2007 is licensed w.r.t. the way it was in Groove 3.x days. In 3.x, your license was for YOU-- you could install it on multiple machines, provided that they were all logged in as you. So, for example, my coworker would have Groove installed on his home machine and his work machine, and they were set up to share folders, etc. That was part of the point.

    In Groove 2007, I believe that you have to buy a copy for each computer, and at $250 a pop, that's not cheap!

    3. Groove 2007 DOES appear to be able to participate in Groove 3.x, unlike some other reports I've read. (it worked for me).

    However, Groove 2007 is unable to CREATE a 3.x workspace, so your new Groove 2007 users will not be able to make workspaces that your Groove 3.x users can access. They would have to ask a 3.x user to create a workspace for them.

    4. (this is the deal killer for us) Groove 2007 is completely unable to use TeamDirection Project-- the tool that was bundled with Groove 3.0 Professional.

    This is a travesty. We have a LOT invested in TD Project. I'm sure a lot of people do. Microsoft can say all they want about how the upgrade path for that is Microsoft Project Server, but that's complete shit.

    Oh, and btw-- yes, there is TeamDirection Project 2007 for Groove. HOWEVER, it is NOT implemented as a workspace tool-- it is a SEPARATE tool that cannot integrate in any way with Groove 3.x.

    5. Lastly, note that the links are gone to install TD Project if you don't already have it. There's a way to do it, but it's a big pain in the ass. More shit.

    I guess that's enough bitching for now.

    I'm not sure what to tell you. We've essentially given up on the idea of Groove 2007. We will not be upgrading to it. We got a crazy "last time buy" of Groove, so we have a few more left, but we are looking for an alternative, too.

    We MIGHT end up going with some sort of Sharepoint-based system, but I dunno.

    I'm VERY interested to see other people's solutions.

    • by dirk (87083)
      2. I am absolutely unsure about the way that Groove 2007 is licensed w.r.t. the way it was in Groove 3.x days. In 3.x, your license was for YOU-- you could install it on multiple machines, provided that they were all logged in as you. So, for example, my coworker would have Groove installed on his home machine and his work machine, and they were set up to share folders, etc. That was part of the point.

      In Groove 2007, I believe that you have to buy a copy for each computer, and at $250 a pop, that's not chea
    • by Semireg (712708)
      The poster wants alternatives, not damage control.

      Here's my wish... A Wikisync Virtual Machine Appliance. It doesn't exist yet, but here's how it would work.

      You download a 70MB virtual machine and start it up, then onfigure it to point to a master wiki at your business. Everyone can contribute to their own local copy (offline or on), and it will sync with the master wiki when available. But, there's more, you can "share" (SMB) a local directory on your Mac/PC/Linux box to the VM and it will rsync files f
  • Funk?
  • As one who's vaguely but not overly familiar with Groove, I'd be interested in hearing the "business case" for it. What does it do particularly well, and for what types of projects/needs has it been particularly successful? That might make it easier for the rest of us to suggest alternatives.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by westlake (615356)
      I'd be interested in hearing the "business case" for it. What does it do particularly well, and for what types of projects/needs has it been particularly successful?

      Building an Emergency Operations Center on Groove and SharePoint [microsoft.com]

      Groove {is} used by legions of organizations from GlaxoSmithKline to the U.S. Army. Being able to edit documents and then return them to a shared folder in one go is great. So is the fact that what you have on your computer is synchronized with other team members in real-time so

  • They suck (Score:2, Interesting)

    Plz also note the number of features *removed* from Groove 3.x! E.g., I heavily used the 'take Sharepoint sites offline' feature to take documentation with me while working offline but it has vanished from the product. http://blogs.msdn.com/marco/archive/2005/12/02/499 513.aspx [msdn.com] will give you more information.

    I personally contacted our Microsoft representative and explained him very carefully why I think he sucks/they suck. Taking over Groove and consequently destroying it while integrating it with Office
  • Collanos (Score:3, Informative)

    by dago (25724) on Saturday March 10, 2007 @03:37PM (#18301276)
    Yep - MS basically killed many of advantages of Groove.

    Anyway, you may want to try Collanos [collanos.com]. Maybe not an exact replacement, but still a nice P2P collaboration package.

    + it even runs on Linux ;)
    • by uradu (10768)
      Looks alright and the Linux support is nice, but it's yet another proprietary product that promises that the basic version will be forever free, or until they sell out to Microsoft. IIRC Groove made similar promises in the early days about their personal edition.
      • by dago (25724)
        well, maybe that's because there's no opensource similar product ?

        (even if you replace office with OpenOffice)

        Same is valid for MS Office/Live Communicator - the opensource alternatives lack many of the functions.

  • by vesper76 (608205) <pritchard...adam@@@gmail...com> on Saturday March 10, 2007 @03:42PM (#18301312) Homepage
    I'm one of the founders/developers of a product that's an alternative to Groove -- CipherShare [provensecu...utions.com]. We're a very small company, but the product has been around for about 7 years now, and we have some pretty sizable customers (Bechtel, MDS Sciex).

    We have: a very clear, simple interface; zero sensitive data exposure on server (we have a reseller who will host for you, if need be, and won't be able to see your data); support for very large files; secure chat; optional account/password recovery; file-type-agnostic document handling; auto-delta-versioning; etcetera. Check out the site and email us if you'd like a demo (we can host it for you, or you can host it yourself).
  • that when articles are posted that include obscure software titles and ambiguous acronyms that the editors can't insert a quick phrase explaining what the hell the whole thing is about?
    • Why is it ... that when articles are posted that include obscure software titles and ambiguous acronyms that the editors can't insert a quick phrase explaining what the hell the whole thing is about?

      Because this is /. not CNet.

      Besides, do you imagine the "Editors" would get descriptions even somewhat correct? They regularly mangle submissions, add inflammatory/incorrect commentary, and/or (re)post old, absurd, or widely discredited material.

      Again, this is /. not CNet.

      • by hob42 (41735)
        Dangit, why can't you posters explain the obscure acronyms you use in your comments?

        I can't for the life of me figure out what "./" stands for. Sheesh.

  • *Da-Dum! Tock! Thud! Crash!*
  • by rock603 (1074230) on Saturday March 10, 2007 @10:51PM (#18304674)
    I've been using it since version 1, and have been actively monitoring the web, Mac and Linux markets to see if anything else could be compared. For a while, the competition seemed to be SharePoint on the surface, which provides a way to share "workspaces" with documents, calendars, discussions, etc. in a portal. But this was limited to working inside a firewall, unless you wanted to set up a special configuration with external connectors and adding outside people to your internal directory system (a no-no in most IT shops I visit).

    Currently, the biggest competitor (if you can call it that) is simply email, because of its ubiquity. Try to convince anyone to give up their email for a month and see what happens. Fortunately, I tested this scenario in Groove a few years ago, and it was a dream come true! No spam. No irrelevant messages (because it is intentionally challenging to use it as a simple email alternative). Just work. And only with people I chose to work with. It was rather Feng Shui. Everything was simple. All files were in one place. Nobody ever asks "did you get that file I sent?" or "where's the latest forecast?" - it's all just there on your system. Everything was secure. Peace of mind. Never had to set it up - it just worked on installation. But now that I'm in a different job and have to work with non-Groovy people, I'm stuck working in the archaic email days once again...:( To compare, it would like people who use email today starting to handwrite letters to each other...it's that bad!

    Groove provides several key components that put it ahead of any web-only technologies. The following can also be used for a business case:

    1. It's a rich client in a Web 2.0 world - which means you will see people running it on an airplane (also, incidentally, where you don't see any Web apps running)

    2. It runs a distributed directory, so people can collaborate across organizational boundaries without requiring IT to modify directory systems (a challenge that has been vexing the industry for at least 15 years now)

    3. It navigates across firewalls to create a "live" peer-based connection between Groove users - features are presence, awareness, instant messaging, and a whole raft of collaborative tools like file sharing, calendars, discussion threads, and customizable forms.

    4. Security is built-in from the ground up - every user is authenticated, which has proven to effectively limit spam, viruses and other malware, and all work is protected with FIPS-approved 192bit AES encryption on disk and over the network.

    5. Trust. Only the people designated to read information you choose to share will have the keys to unlock it. That means that an errant sys admin cannot view Groove workspaces or intercept data intended for another recipient.

    6. Synchronization. This actually should have been first, since at the core, Groove is a great big XML message switch. Here's where you'll find the patents. Groove has a very robust synchronization engine that ensures that all documents, files, messages, changes to a workspace, etc. are synchronized with all members, whether they are online or offline. This is a hugely complicated endeavor that the Groove team has been working on since the Lotus Notes days - and they KNOW how to do it right.

    Also note that it was developed by Ray Ozzie and his team of about 125 developers over 5 years and with over 5 million lines of code. It's more like an operating system on top of Windows, with identity, authentication, storage, synchronization, security, and communications all rolled up into one app. The original intent was to make it a development platform on which people could create their own collaborative applications, like the Team Direction project and Information Patterns' geo-mapping applications.

    After the MS acquisition and the decision to add it to the Office Enterprise suite as a premium business offering (since business is the real focus of the application - cross-organization,

    • by Sharpner (894049)
      Thanks for the effort. I'd mod you up if I could. That was very illuminating.
    • by rp (29053)
      Thanks for the explanation. I think I now understand what Groove does.
      But how does it improve on a global filesystem like AFS (www.openafs.org)?
      • by rock603 (1074230)
        I wouldn't say it "improves" on AFS at all, but then again, it didn't have AFS in mind during development.

        Groove is definitely NOT a distributed filesystem, even if some might consider it as having those capabilities. For that purpose, I personally use http://www.foldershare.com/ [foldershare.com] just to keep large volumes of files in sync between my personal and family systems, including across firewalls.

        Let me try to boil it down a bit further to illustrate. Groove is client software, much like an email client, that all

        • by uradu (10768)
          I've followed Groove since day one, when you could download their beta/trial version to play around, and thought it was a very innovative product. Ray Ozzie used to proselytize the concept at every opportunity--I think I still have a copy of DDJ somewhere with a many-page article about the XML architecture of Groove. They wanted it to be an open platform for the development of P2P collaboration tools. That's why a lot of people were quite taken aback when they sold themselves to Microsoft and Ray Ozzie beca
          • by rock603 (1074230)
            uradu - i agree with you. but there may be an alternative route than that typified by microsoft. what if the core tenents of groove (i.e. authentication, communications, synchronization, security, etc.) become core services in the stack, but are loosely coupled with other infrastructure services...a very different MS could emerge indeed! by the way, Ray is now "chief software architect", which means he can help all development teams to march in a coordinated direction. he's a bright guy - let's give him the
        • by vrmlguy (120854)

          Here's what you'd have to build:

          1. Distributed directory system that allows people to authenticate each other out of band or via corporate server

          LDAP? I don't know enough about state-of-the-art authentication. Maybe Open ID, especially if if works well with #9.

          2. WAN P2P protocols

          rsync

          3. LAN P2P protocols

          rsync

          4. Local encrypted database

          modified SQLite (although see my note for #6; maybe just encrypted flat files for iCard and iCal)

          5. Communications encryption

          SSL or SSH

          6. Robu

          • by rock603 (1074230)
            Very good list of technologies, though not entirely complete (e.g. LDAP is not a self-managed distributed directory system).

            Now - link them all together, and provide a simple front-end interface that allows an average computer user to download, install, create a space and start sharing information securely, online/offline, cross-firewall, completely authenticated and encrypted everywhere - go!:)

            Folks - Groove does nothing really new or that you can't get elsewhere. It's just that it encompasses the featu

            • by vrmlguy (120854)

              Folks - Groove does nothing really new or that you can't get elsewhere. It's just that it encompasses the features of all these technologies (and more) in an integrated and user-friendly environment.

              Elsewhere [slashdot.org], someone suggested using a VM to package an assortment of "Groove-like" technologies. Right now, I'm running VMware's free Virtual Server to do something similar, only I'm running "single-user" servers for Gallery and WordPress. It's a great way to encapsulate web services, especially since it side

        • by hrvatska (790627)
          Capability wise it sounds a lot like Lotus Notes/Domino packaged with their Sametime instant messaging application. Considering that Ozzie was the father of Notes that's not surprising. Any idea how Groove stacks up against Notes as far as features and usability go?
    • Thanks for the info. Glad I pretended to be an Australian uni student [slashdot.org] and got Office Ultimate for $75AUD the other day!
  • Hi, I am the founder/CTO of Collanos, and we are offering something quite similar to Groove. We are a small start-up and don't have $150 Mio. to invest, but we do have talented developers and came already a long way. Our main differentiators are: - Multi-platform: Runs on Win, Mac, and Linux's - All P2P and built atop Sun's OSS JXTA.org libs - Object-oriented, not Tool-oriented, i.e. you can structure your workspaces and mix and match any object type (e.g. group discussions are objects, not a another tool
    • by rock603 (1074230)
      Very nice Franco - I tested it with an old Groove user who is already familiar with the concepts. It looks like a very nice alternative, and it runs on Linux and Mac! I do have a couple of questions or feedback - whichever you prefer.

      1. Information on disk was not encrypted - is this planned?

      2. I could not tell if the information was encrypted over the wire. Again, planned?

      3. Where is the data stored? Clients only, or is it ever on a server unencrypted?

      4. Are users authenticated in any way so I can p

      • Thanks. Good to see you are test-driving it and I can gladly provide more details:
        1. It actually *should* be encrypted. If it is not, this might have slipped during the build. I will look into it. We ran tests with both options: using disk encryption from the RDBMS and applying our own encryption algorithm to the content. We also changed our embedded database some time ago, from QED to Derby (Apache project).
        2. Traffic over the wire it is encrypted end-to-end using AES-256.
        3. Everything is stored locally in the
        • Small addendum to point 1: Currently the "replicas" (i.e. the change units that need to be replicated between the peers) are managed in persistent queues and indeed unencrypted. This are temporary queues until transmission completes. The RDBMS itself is PW protected and the transport is - as already mentioned - DES/AES encrypted. We will likely make the local storage encryption an option in the future so that users can switch on/off based on preferences. Handling of large files will be much faster with no
  • Hi, We are working on a platform independent alternative to Groove. Beta version of Collaber will be released soon(one or two months). If there is any alternative to Groove then Collaber will be the top in such list. It has so many features exactly similar to Groove. Collaber uses Eclipse for its GUI.

    All the concepts of Groove are same with the Collaber. Workspace,Tools, Accounts, Contacts, Messages etc.

    The main advantages of collaber is its open architecture. Unlike Groove 2007 you can develop you own tool
  • Groove can be bought as a standalone - the cheapest price so far seems to be from Amazon.

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