October 19, 2009, 2:26 PM — LA VEGAS -- Four years after buying Ray Ozzie's Groove, Microsoft is making its most significant dive into the technology using the client software to create an offline data store and workplace for SharePoint users.
The company made the announcement during Monday's opening of its annual SharePoint conference, which has attracted 7,000 attendees.
SharePoint Server 2010, which will go into its first public beta next month, will include the SharePoint Workplace Client, which is Groove software redesigned as a native SharePoint client. It lets users view and edit both online and offline data from SharePoint and third-party line-of-business applications and synchronize those changes with SharePoint and third-party systems.
For example, data in an SAP system will look like native SharePoint data, and using the Groove-based SharePoint Workplace Client, that data can be taken offline and edited and then synchronized with the third-party system. The synchronization is supported by workflow features including check-in and check-out capabilities.
In addition, Microsoft has added to the optional browser-based SharePoint client the ability to read and edit external data. In the 2007 version, users could only read external data via the browser client.
The 2007 version of SharePoint included a Groove branded client, but it provided a read-only option for external data along with very basic SharePoint integration.
The access to third-party data is via a SharePoint feature called the Business Data Catalog, which lets users connect to line-of-business applications.
"The Workplace Client is a key part of building these kinds of applications where SharePoint ties together different information in your organization," said Jeff Teper, corporate vice president of the Office SharePoint Server group at Microsoft. "It brings the data seamlessly into SharePoint and SharePoint Workspace."
The client is available as part of the Office Pro Plus suite.
"We have put ton of work in this release that we think will make developers lives easier to bring line-of-business data together with SharePoint data, take it offline and then update it," Teper said. "It is a real pain point for IT organizations to build these business front ends and tie them into collaboration activity."