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Microsoft Beta Tests 'Tahiti,' Another Collaboration App

The app allows groups of up to 15 people share documents and applications by clicking an icon within Office applications or via a small taskbar on the top of the screen.
Microsoft has begun limited beta testing of a collaboration application codenamed "Tahiti" that allows groups of up to 15 people share documents and applications by clicking an icon within Office applications or via a small taskbar on the top of the screen. Tahiti joins an increasingly crowded field of Microsoft collaboration apps that includes the likes of Groove, SharePoint, Office Communicator, Windows Meeting Space, and Live Meeting, though it looks and feels different than the others.

Tahiti places a small toolbar icon labeled "Work With Me" in the toolbars of Office applications that when clicked, launches Tahiti. In the current version, when a Word document is being worked on collaboratively, changes are tracked in real time and each change is marked with the name of the user who made the change. This update tracking capability doesn't appear to carry over to other apps like Excel and Powerpoint. However, the program also uses what Microsoft calls "personal mouse pointers" to see how others are using their mouse during the session. Along with Office documents, the Tahiti taskbar lets people share any application on their desktops.

Microsoft wouldn't say much about Tahiti other than by providing a short e-mailed statement. "Microsoft continues to look for new ways to provide our customers with innovative tools to improve their productivity," the statement said. "Currently in limited beta, the product codenamed 'Tahiti' allows individuals to work with small groups of people in real time, wherever they are." That doesn't say much, and Microsoft says there's nothing more to announce right now.

However, Tahiti appears to be an Office Live application, though it is branded with both the MSN and Office Live logos. Office Live consists mostly of Web-based small business applications. Tahiti, with its focus on collaboration among small groups, fits right in line, although it isn't Web-based like most MSN and Office Live apps. It's not clear how Tahiti would fit alongside similar Microsoft apps to share among small groups, such as Groove or Live Meeting.

Regardless, there's a lot of room for something like Tahiti to grow. Tahiti's Web site mentions that audio, chat, and integration with Office Communicator aren't supported "in this version," keeping the door open for these capabilities to be included in the future.