Microsoft readies new 'Tahiti' collaboration service

Microsoft is about to begin testing a new collaboration service, code-named "Tahiti," according to private beta testers.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

Microsoft is about to begin testing a new collaboration service, code-named "Tahiti," according to private beta testers.

Tahiti is one of a number of future hosted services that Microsoft is thought to be building on top of Exchange Server, Office Communications Server and SharePoint Server, according to sources. Others in the "family" include Exchange Hosted Services and Live Meeting, sources said. The team behind Tahiti is Microsoft's Unified Communications incubation team, sources added.

Microsoft is expected to position Tahiti as both a consumer and a business service that will allow for collaboration on the fly.

From early reports, Tahiti sounds a lot like the Windows Meeting Space collaboration service that is integrated into Windows Vista. The difference: Tahiti doesn't require Vista; it is Web-based and will require only a browser on the client side, testing sources said.

Tahiti might end up as one of  looks to be a member of the Office Live family of services that are designed to work as adjuncts to Microsoft Office.

Users will be able to share documents and/or screen captures among groups of up to 15 people using Tahiti. Participants will be able to exchange handouts without e-mailing them to one another. The service will work across firewalls. The service will require participants to sign on via Windows Live ID in order to make use of the service, testers said.

So how does Tahiti compete with/complement Microsoft's own Groove and Live Meeting services? It's not clear.

I pinged Microsoft for more information/comment on Tahiti.

Update: Late on March 28, I received this statement via e-mail from a Microsoft spokeswoman:

"The product, codenamed 'Tahiti,'  is currently in limited beta and allows you to create and collaborate on documents across physicalboundaries through firewalls, in real time, and is an example of how wecontinue to look for new ways to meet customers' productivity and collaboration needs. We have nothing further to announce at this time."

Anyone heard any more about Tahiti? Given the codename, I'm wondering how Tahiti fits in (if it does) with "Fiji," the next version of Windows Media Center....

Update: I just found a link to Tahiti on the Microsoft Connect site. Here's the text (before it gets pulled down):

"Welcome to Microsoft Codename "Tahiti" Pre-Beta

Codename "Tahiti" Pre-Beta is a fast, easy way to share documents and screen views with small groups of friends or coworkers; anytime, anywhere. Use Codename "Tahiti" to put your heads together and collaborate."

The Connect site warns:

"This pre-beta is limited to users who have received an invite and password.  The download location may be removed at any time once use hits pre-determined levels."

I'm playing with the pre-beta now. It looks and feels like a shared whiteboarding environment that appears as though it will be ad-supported when it debuts. 

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