By Harry McCracken | Wednesday, April 21, 2010 at 1:15 pm
Facebook’s F8 developer conference kicked off today, so the Web is rife with Facebook-related news. One interesting tidbit: Microsoft is launching a beta version of something called Docs, which lets Facebook users collaborate on documents with their Facebook pals, in the browser or in the desktop versions of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. (The name “Docs” may prompt confusion with Google’s Office rival Google Docs, but Microsoft apparently owns Docs.com–and if I owned it, I’d want to use it for something like this, too.)
The beta as it’s been rolled out is semi-open: Anyone can view documents. But uploading, editing, and creating new ones requires an invite code. I’m don’t have full acess, so I can’t explore all of Docs’ features, but the idea doesn’t look so complicated: Basically, it’s a version of Office 2010’s workgroup features and Web-based apps that makes your Facebook friends your workgroup.
It’s tough to judge Docs until I get get full access to it, but it looks like it could be handy. One major question I still have: Even though this is clearly built on some of the Office 2010 Web technology, is it an entirely separate world–or can I create a document in an Office 2010 Web app and share it via Docs, and vice versa?