Microsoft is bringing back Google Wave, the doomed real-time messaging and collaboration platform that Google launched in 2009 and closed prematurely in 2010.
Maybe we should have seen this coming. Back in 2019, Microsoft announced the Fluid Framework (not to be confused with the Fluent design system). The idea here was nothing less than trying to reinvent the nature of business documents and how developers build real-time applications. Last year, the company opened Fluid and began building it into a couple of its own Office applications. Today, at its Ignite conference, it launches a brand new product built on top of Fluid: Microsoft
Loop is a new app – and concept – that takes the Fluid framework, which gives developers flexible components to mix and match to create real-time editing-based applications, to create a new experience for users to collaborate on documents. In many ways, it was also the promise of Google Wave – real-time collaboration plus a developer framework and protocol to bring Wave everywhere.
Image credit: Microsoft
Now you can say: isn’t that what Teams is for? Why is this not built into Teams. And yes, all of that is in the works, but there will also be a Loop app that Microsoft says “combines a powerful and flexible canvas with portable components that move freely and stay in sync across apps – allowing for teams to think, plan and create together. “
Image credit: Microsoft
There are three elements to Loop: Loop components, “atomic units of productivity” (the tip of my hat to the one who came up with that phrase) such as lists, tables, notes, and tasks; Loop pages, “flexible canvases where you can organize your components and pull in other useful elements like files, links or data to help teams think, connect and collaborate.” and Loop workspaces, shared spaces where you can somehow catch up with what everyone is working on and track progress toward common goals.
One thing that Wave never had, which is apparently a core feature of Loop, is that Loop tracks your cursor position in real time. It’s the current state of the meta verse for you right there. Nothing says I’m present and active in a meeting like moving your marker around, after all.
Some new Loop / Fluent components coming soon are a polling table (a day-1 feature in Google Wave, I might add) and a status tracker.
Google Wave was clearly ahead of its time.