Groove to release new version of P2P software

In response to customer demands, Groove Networks Inc. will release on Monday the second version of its peer-to-peer collaboration software, with added features such as centralized control and integration with other applications.

The new version of Groove, which is being released a little more than a year after the first version, provides customers of the Beverly, Mass.-based company with more in-house control of the software. That control mainly comes from a server that companies can now buy and install in their network, instead of having the application hosted by Groove.

"I think Groove heard them," said Dana Gardner, an analyst at Aberdeen Group Inc. in Boston. He said internal control was exactly the sort of thing customers were asking for last year.

Internal control was also included last October in a beta version of this release.

Other tools added to this version include integration with Microsoft Corp.'s Office applications, particularly the Outlook e-mail client. A Groove link appears automatically in the Outlook user interface, so users can create a shared workspace in Groove and automatically populate that with selected e-mail addresses from Outlook.

Groove 2.0 also links to Microsoft Project software, and integration with Notes e-mail software from IBM subsidiary Lotus Software Group in Cambridge, Mass., is under consideration, according to Groove spokesman Andrew Mahon. Groove founder and CEO Ray Ozzie also created Notes, and much of his staff at Groove came from Lotus.

Groove isn't trying to push out e-mail applications, but the company has big ambitions as a collaboration software vendor, Mahon said.

Gardner agreed that once it's deployed, the Groove software will become a popular tool at many companies -- even if it's brought in to address a single problem.

"They sort of have a beachhead with a particular issue, but once [that is] solved, it will begin to take over more collaboration and communications activity," Gardner said.

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