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Goodbye Groove

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I started using Lotus Notes in 1992… But then IBM didn’t seem to be able to market their way out of a paper bag after buying Lotus. Ray then ran off to write the next version and started Groove. I was SO disappointed when he made the same silly mistake of limiting the size of a Groove workspace (it was a database in Lotus) to a mere 2 GB. Even more disappointing was the reduction in usability.

So what’s happened? Why no more Groove?

I started using OneNote since their very first release. While I didn’t have a table PC I still found the concepts useful. By 2006, just one year after Microsoft acquired Groove Networks I was starting to wonder which would win – OneNote or Groove.

What did Groove have?

Groove still had the key collaboration concepts.

  • You could see new (to you) items.
  • There was security (strong encryption and basic certificates).
  • Instant Messaging (IM) was built in so that you could see who (for your workspace) was online.
  • It would replicate (sync) information through many tight firewall situations.

What did OneNote have?

OneNote was an excellent analogy to long standing “Notebooks” (The paper variety that would come in wide rule or college rule)

  • Taking notes was easy.
  • I can have a shared notebook on pretty much any file server. This allows me to “Not backup, but instead, use redundant storage as a backup strategy” (an idea borrowed from the Facebook team)
  • Searching was VERY easy.
  • I can share a notebook with others.

Key Differences

Sharing with Others – With OneNote all I need is a drive… not some fancy Groove server (which is clearly overkill for information I wish to share with my wife.)

And the latest issue… I want to change hard drives. I have my OneNote notebooks on my Windows Home Server (WHS). Changing drives is a piece of cake. Contrast that with Groove. I have some workspaces that at this stage I am the only  am a participant. I can find no way to get the information off my old drive and onto my new on since they cannot both be online at the same time!

What really highlighted this for me was that I had one workspace called “Software We Own”. That workspace had key installation files, license keys, and other information for reloading software. With now way to get that information from my old drive to my new drive I could not install my new software.

I now find that I have NO access to my “Software We Own” workspace. If it had been a OneNote notebook, I would just need to open that shared notebook.


So today I copied all the information from my Groove workspace and pasted it into a OneNote notebook that I share with my wife via our Windows Home Server (WHS).


A sad day in my mind. The collaborative capabilities of both Lotus Notes and Groove was insightful. I’ve always described the key power of these technologies as “Syncing your brain with the information on the computer”. Knowing what I’ve seen and not seen was vital. The ability to see usage patterns, i.e., who’s seen what information and when, were valuable to information providers. I have some wonderful stories about the power of the collaboration of both Lotus Notes and Groove…

But in the end, they can’t seem to meet the simple needs. So for my needs at the moment… On to OneNote. My truly collaborative needs are met by other technologies such as Team Foundation Server (TFS) and various social networks.

Thank you OneNote.

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