Q&A With Groove Network's Ray Ozzie "InformationWeek: What was the main problem Groove set out to solve?
Ozzie: It's version 3 of the product, and all that that implies. Anybody who has bought PC software over the years knows that version one brings the new concept out; version 2, you're getting the early refinements in; but version 3 is really the first sign of maturity of the product.
Let's start with that. In terms of performance, in terms of general usability and completeness, it's there. It's kind of boring, but that's very important. From a user perspective, what we were really trying to accomplish, beyond usability, was to really nail the concept of viral adoption [user to user]. Which means you bring the collaborative functions as much as you can into the place where the user really lives. In version 2, we addressed that by integrating it with E-mail--Outlook and Notes. With version 3, we're integrating it right into the file system.
This concept of file-sharing workspaces is a really, really big deal. It's intended to take the thing that most Windows users do and know and understand--which is saving files in the file system, generally with Microsoft Office--and put the ability to interact with other people directly right there.
Another thing that we're really trying to do is bring fast customization to the user in a much more dramatic way. Once you start integrating collaborative functions into what you're doing, it's important to make the shared space that you're working in very relevant to the kind of task that you're doing. So if you're working with others to address customer-support problems, you want the shared space that you're working in to feel like a customer-support issue-tracking system. If you're using it to deal with supply-chain exceptions, you want it to feel like that kind of system. So we put a forms-development environment in that's very sophisticated, yet [it's] very easy to build applications in. That's a big deal."