For small businesses (and large enterprises), figuring out how to let employees collaborate with one another is a huge challenge. Microsoft is using its SharePoint server and clients to enable collaboration, but that's a big, strong tool -- too big for most small businesses. Since most collaborations take place in the form of a Word document, something that just let multiple folks work on a single document would be a step in the right direction, and it looks like a small company, Hiveware, might be onto something.
Hiveware for Word is a peer-to-peer collaboration product that lets two or more people work on a document at the same time. It locks individual paragraphs or sections so that collisions don't occur, but it updates all the screens with changes within a few seconds of the new characters going into the document. It's lightweight and simple, and might just be enough for many organizations.
Now for some caveats: I saw a simple, local two-machine demonstration. There was a slight (less than 10 second) lag between input and screen refresh on the other system, but I don’t know what that lag will look like when the systems are separated by the Internet, or when there are more than two machines in the "hive." Next, although the product was announced this week, it's not ready for general availability -- that will come later this year. When it's ready, I'm looking forward to doing a quick review of the system. Until then, though, this looks like the sort of simple system that could make wide-area collaboration much easier for companies that aren't ready to commit to a big back-end server solution.