This is huge news...very exciting.

Microsoft will acquire Groove Networks and make Groove's founder, Ray Ozzie (he's got a blog), chief technology officer at the software giant.

 

FT.com:

"Microsoft, the world’s largest software maker, on Thursday said it would buy Groove Networks Inc. in order to offer software that allows groups of people to work together regardless of location

Groove, whose products let people share information and collaborate on common tasks and documents over the Internet, was founded in 1997 by Ray Ozzie, a creator of IBM Corp.’s Lotus Notes.

Terms of the deal, which is expected to close in the second quarter, were not disclosed. Privately held Groove will become part of the Microsoft division that includes Office, as Microsoft expands its portfolio of programs that are part of that brand. The last major Office-related acquisition was Web-conferencing software and services provider PlaceWare in 2003."

Investor's Business Daily:

"In his new role, one of three such positions at Microsoft, Ozzie will report directly to Bill Gates, chairman and chief software architect of the Redmond, Wash.-based company."

Ray Ozzie, Founder, Chairman and CEO, Groove Networks.

Ray Ozzie, to be Microsoft's new CTO!

One of 3 CTOs, according to Seattle PI:

"Ozzie will be one of three chief technical officers at Microsoft, focusing on communication and collaboration products, said Jeff Raikes, the group vice president who oversees Microsoft's Information Worker division."

ZDNet:

"Microsoft was an investor in Groove, which has closely tied its collaboration software to Windows and other Microsoft products.

"After working with Ray for years as a close partner, it will be great to have him on our senior leadership team," Gates said in a statement.

Microsoft said the Groove group will become part of its Information Worker division. The acquisition is expected to close in the second quarter. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Groove, based in Beverly, Mass., was founded in 1997 to create productivity software for groups of information workers. The organization, which now has nearly 200 employees, will continue to work out of its existing location."

Microsoft Presspass site has an interview with Ray Ozzie and Jeff Raikes, VP of Microsoft's Information Worker division:

PressPass: Why is Microsoft acquiring Groove Networks?

Jeff Raikes: The core mission of the Microsoft Office team is to improve the productivity of information workers around the world. One way we aim to do this is with software and services that allow people to share documents and work together on projects across companies and continents.

Adding Groove and its products to Microsoft brings together two companies with a shared vision for making collaboration natural and easy. Groove complements Microsoft's collaboration products by helping us better serve businesses with mobile workers and remote offices. This acquisition will help us to offer businesses complete, highly integrated collaboration software and services that meet the needs of virtually any size business and virtually any kind of work situation.

We also realize that the challenges of collaboration will change as the workplace continues to evolve. Ray and his team at Groove have a long history of innovation and leadership in this area. By joining forces, we can bring new resources and focus to the development of products that help information workers overcome the collaboration challenges they face both today and in the future.

Jeff Raikes, Group Vice President, Microsoft Information Worker Business
 

PressPass: What collaboration products and services does Microsoft currently offer?

Raikes: Microsoft Office SharePoint Portal Server and Windows SharePoint Services allow businesses to create and manage shared workspaces for groups of information workers within a corporate IT network. Within these controlled spaces, they can share and work on documents, arrange schedules and perform other shared tasks.

On Tuesday [March 8], we introduced the new Microsoft Office Communicator 2005 and new versions of Microsoft Office Live Communications Server and Microsoft Office Live Meeting. Together, these products will provide a unified communications infrastructure for information workers. They will provide for e-mail, phone, instant messaging, short message service, video conferencing and Web conferencing, helping information workers to more easily track the availability of members of collaborative work groups and communicate in real time with these coworkers, partners and customers.

These workspaces and communications tools offer a centralized collaboration hub for information workers on a company's IT network.

PressPass: How will Groove complement Microsoft's current collaboration offerings?

Raikes: Groove's products complement and broaden Microsoft's collaboration capabilities by allowing information workers to securely collaborate on group tasks and projects in highly decentralized situations -- when working outside of the corporate network and with limited or no access to a server. Groove's novel approach to ad-hoc workspaces extends the scenarios in which people can use Microsoft's collaboration solutions, thereby increasing the benefits to our customers.

Groove allows information workers to rapidly create ad-hoc workspaces on their desktop when working from a home office, a small regional office or at a hotel during a business trip. Then they can invite other Groove users to work on a project together. A prime--though extreme -- example of Groove's value in decentralized situations: organizers of the Sri Lanka Tsunami aid effort have used Groove technology to create a central warehouse of information about the devastation, aid resources and the current status of coordination efforts. Aid workers access the information and update shared records within Groove workspaces.

Ray Ozzie: Microsoft's current collaboration products and Groove build on each other's strengths. Distributed teams can use Groove to create ad-hoc workspaces that reside on team members' PCs and later have the documents, plans and other workspace content published to a managed SharePoint Web Portal. Or an individual can bring content from a SharePoint site into a Groove workspace on his or her laptop -- in order to work on that content with others, to automatically and securely synchronize it between home and work computers, or just to stay productive when temporarily disconnected from the network.

These technologies already work together in very powerful ways. But we've only just begun to explore the opportunities we have to better address the needs of information workers at a time when the very nature of work itself is changing.

More from the interview here...