Microsoft SharePoint Workspace, previously known as Microsoft Office Groove, is a desktop application designed for document collaboration in teams with members who are regularly off-line or who do not share the same network security clearance.
Groove's uses have included coordination between emergency relief agencies where different organizations do not share a common security infrastructure and where offline access is important, and amongst teams of knowledge workers, such as consultants who need to work securely on client sites. It is also used as a staging system for documents in development, where content can be developed then transferred to a portal when complete.
Groove was initially developed by Lotus Notes creator Ray Ozzie, and developed by Groove Networks of Beverly, Massachusetts until Microsoft's acquisition of Groove Networks in March 2005.
Groove's core concept is the shared workspace, which consists of a set of files to be shared, plus some aids for group collaboration. Groove users can create workspaces, add documents, and invite other Groove members to a workspace. A user that responds to an invitation is made an active member of that workspace. Each member has a privately editable copy of the workspace. Users interact and collaborate in the common workspace which is a private virtual location. All changes are tracked by Groove, sent to all members and all copies of the workspace are synchronized via the network in a peer-to-peer manner.
When participating users are off-line, changes for their workspaces copies are queued, either on a Office Groove Server that mediates the workspace or via other participants (peer-to-peer), to be sent to users when they come on-line. When multiple users edit one document at the same time, changes may conflict and multiple versions will be shown until an editor decides which changes will become final.
Data is encrypted on disk with 192-bit AES encryption as well as over the network, with each workspace having a unique set of cryptographic keys.
Groove's basic set of services (including always-on security, persistent chat, store-and-forward messaging delivery, firewall/NAT transparency, ad-hoc group formation, and change notification) may be customized with tools.
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