Microsoft says Hello to Tahoe

The mentionof Lake Tahoe evokes images of rafting, serene vistas, and elegant resorts.It’s hardly the milieu of paper shuffling, red tape, and lost documents. AndMicrosoft wants to keep it that way.

At theMicrosoft Exchange and Collaboration (MEC) show this month, Microsoft unveiledits Tahoe Server, Redmond’s entry into the document management space. Tahoewill enable workgroups to collaborate on documents, track changes, automateworkflow, and move documents from Word onto intranets.

Documentmanagement systems are not new, but most systems have been marketed towardcertain vertical markets, such as the pharmaceutical industry, where federaloversight requires involved documentation and paper submission.

“Tahoe willbring document management to a broader set of users,” says Chris Baker, productmanager for Tahoe at Microsoft. Baker says he anticipates regulated verticalsto be early adopters of Tahoe, but he stresses that Tahoe will not be limitedto traditional document management customers.

“We want tomake it a natural extension of Office,” Baker says. Baker suggests that Tahoewill maintain the intuitive interface of Office, but extend the collaborationfeatures. In addition, Office is a client-centric set of applications, butTahoe will spread its utility to the network.

Microsoftexpects to release Tahoe in the first half of 2001. The beta is available at says about 6,000 users grabbed the beta in its first day of availability atMEC.

In additionto traditional document management, Microsoft is positioning Tahoe Server as ameans to create corporate information portals. For example, a sales force couldleverage Tahoe by instantly updating pricing information on an intranet.

TahoeServer integrates with Exchange, SQL Server 2000, and Lotus Domino, soTahoe-driven portals can draw from deep information stores and keep a workforcewell-informed.

A TahoeServer sits between an external information store -- such as a file and printserver, an Exchange server, or a database -- and an IIS server. Administratorscan choose how Tahoe routes files through the organization, whether throughOutlook, Office, or another client program. IIS can publish documents to theWeb.

In a way,Tahoe reverses the Windows Explorer concept: Windows Explorer blurs theboundaries between Web browsing and drilling through directory structures.Similarly, Tahoe will erode the distinction between file sharing and Webpublishing. Shared documents and files will be available through a universalinterface.

Althoughinformation portals have obvious enterprisewide uses, Baker says Tahoe islikely to attract departmental administrators as a point solution. For example,an editorial department might adopt Tahoe as a Web publishing tool for movingstories from Office to a Web site. If all goes well there, it could then getramped to the entire enterprise. “You will see a lot of bottoms-updeployments,” Baker predicts.

Baker alsotouts Tahoe’s security features as an attractive component. Tahoe integrateswith the permission settings in Active Directory to determine the role of auser within the workgroup and establish the user’s relationship with adocument.

Tahoe willbe able to decide whether a user is able to read, edit, or create a documentwith greater granularity than the current file sharing and Web publishing toolsin the Microsoft slate. In addition, Baker believes that the permission settingin Tahoe will be more foolproof than the current system, particularly if documentsare open to users beyond the firewall.


MicrosoftCorp.,, Redmond, WA