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Software giant Microsoft is to buy Groove Networks, the maker of computer programs for "virtual offices"
Collaborative software that allows employees to work together over the internet from various locations has been growing in complexity and usage. And Microsoft has been focusing on the field ahead of new releases of its Windows and Office programs. Groove founder Ray Ozzie - an industry legend - will join Microsoft as one of its chief technical officers. Mr Ozzie, 49, created Lotus Notes for IBM in the 1980s, the first messaging application to achieve widespread sales, tells BBC News. Groove, which is privately held and based in Beverly, Mass., was founded in October 1997 by Mr. Ozzie, who previously was the designer of Lotus Notes. Financial terms were not disclosed. Microsoft was already a major investor, along with Intel Capital, a unit of Intel. In 2001, Groove was valued at about $250 million. Mr. Ozzie, who began his career developing minicomputer operating systems, was a pioneer at early software companies including Software Arts, the developer of the first software spreadsheet, VisiCalc. He also helped the Lotus Development Corporation pursue Symphony, a less successful companion to the Lotus 1-2-3 spreadsheet. Later, from a small design company he founded, Iris Associates, Mr. Ozzie led the development of Lotus Notes, a pioneering program intended to permit groups of office workers to share information and tasks easily. Lotus was acquired by I.B.M. in 1995, publishes the New York Times
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