Microsoft Docs – Microsoft Office 2010 Web Apps + Facebook > Google Docs ?

Last week Facebook announced the release of Microsoft Docs -a collaborative project of Microsoft and Facebook- during the Facebook F8 conference.

In addition to the Microsoft Docs introduction of Lili Cheng, General Manager of FUSE Labs, you can read the following description of Microsoft Docs on the Fuse Labs website

Discover. Create. Share.

Now you can discover, create, and share Microsoft Office documents with your Facebook friends. Built using Microsoft Office 2010 – Docs for Facebook provides the best possible document service for the Facebook environment.

Docs gives you a great, flexible social–productivity experience. You can decide who to share with… from privately creating, editing, and collaborating around docs, all the way to public sharing on the web. You can upload or start doc online, have someone help you edit it, incorporate feedback, and then share it with the world. Docs can be viewed and edited directly within a web browser – or, with a single click, you can edit them more richly and powerfully through the Microsoft Office software on your PC or Mac.

Seamless integration with Facebook means that the service is all about sharing your documents. Finally docs can be friendly too!”


Microsoft Docs – Some hands-on experiences

On the Microsoft Docs website you can find two video’s: (1) Welcome to Docs – Video Tutorial and (2) Getting Started for Docs – Video Tutorial. These video’s should give you a basic impression of the capabilities of Microsoft Docs. 

Furthermore I would like to recommend a Microsoft Docs hands-on tour article published on PCWorld by JR Raphael, a  contributing editor @ PCWorld and and the co-founder of eSarcasm. The article consists of pictures of the different steps of the document lifecycle.

Matt Singley, Senior Director of Social Media Strategy for M80, the leading provider of social media marketing and digital publicity services to Fortune 500 brands, has written an excellent article about Microsoft Docs as well and has some interesting feedback to share:

  • “You can visit the site and download existing homepage docs, but unfortunately full participation is still limited to beta users that have received an invite code. That means that until you are in the beta test group, you cannot actually upload anything…too bad.
  • I should also mention that I tried this site in four browsers: Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari and Chrome. It worked great in all of them except Chrome initially; I got a compatibility error in the Google-born browser.”



Microsoft Docs vs. Google Docs

Just like Matt Singley and Jeremiah Owyang, Partner, Customer Strategy @ Altimeter Group  and Columnist for Forbes CMO Network, I expected this result from the strategic Microsoft Facebook partnership as an attempt to compete with the Google Docs service.

Mary-Jo Foley, Editor from the All About Microsoft Blog on ZDNet, describes Microsoft Docs as “a version of Office Web Apps tailored for Facebook users“, while she furthermore states in the ZDNet article:

“Office Web Apps is going to be available to different sets of customers in different ways, Microsoft officials have said. Business users who want to run them inside a company on their own servers and/or via a Microsoft-hosted server will be required to pay some still-unknown subscription fee.”

Therefore I do think that it is fair to conclude that the Microsoft Docs vs Google Docs comparison is clearly wrong, since this is a different product offering aimed at a different target audience. I would decribe Microsoft Docs as a derivative of the Microsoft Office Web Apps that serve the more “general” market. I think it would make more sence to make a comparison between these two services !

Pat Kinsel from FUSE Labs also addresses the comparison with Google Docs in the Microsoft Docs overview on the website:

“There are other services out there that let you create and collaborate on documents.  And there are others that support sharing, discussing and discovering documents.  But what makes Docs special is it’s the only service that supports the complete document lifecycle.  That coupled with seamless integration of Microsoft Office 2010 and Facebook makes Docs the best possible document service for the Facebook environment.”


Overall thoughts and wrap-up

Microsoft and Facebook have already sucessfully teamed-up in the past, for example with the development of Facebook for Windows Phone that brings the Facebook experience to your Windows Mobile powered smartphone. 

If you think about Microsoft Docs from a more abstract level, than it is the combination of the world’s leading Office suite with one of the most powerful global social networks. A clever combination that might result in a new market opportunities for both Microsoft and Facebook. However I’m trying to think a little more about the business- and revenue model behind, mainly because of the currently advertising driven Facebook network.

John Obeto, Microsoft MVP and owner of Absolutely Windows, proposed an integrsting question in this context: Will Facebook expose the contents of the docs on to advertisers? Are revnues mainly created on the continued advertising model with the resulting yes answer to the question above, or will Microsoft simply get a license fee for leveraging the Microsoft Office Web Apps ?? Remark also the quote from the Mary-Jo Foley article that Microsoft Office Web Apps will be available in different ways to different sets of customers.

Business users might use the more traditional Microsoft Office Web Apps as an extention of the Microsoft Office 2010 software on the workstations and notebooks, while I wouldn’t be surprised to see Microsoft Docs, as a more consumer oriented offering, become part of the well known Windows Live bundle.

However these are just some thoughts and with the current information available there are no insights in the mid- and longterm goals of this start-up project. Furthermore the comparison of Microsoft Docs and Google Docs is clearly wrong, mainly due to the derivative character of Microsoft Docs. In order to complete the wrap-up I would love to hear your thoughts and invite you to sign-up for the beta of Microsoft Docs. Twelve of my friends did also sign-up as you can see in the screenshot above.



Takeshi Numoto, Corporate Vice President, Office Product Management Group, just published the article “Cloud creates new opportunities for Office: thoughts on for Facebook” with his thoughts about- and the explorative nature of the Microsoft Docs approach.



About Microsoft Fuse Labs

“FUSE Labs works in partnership with product and research teams to ideate, develop, and deliver new social, real-time, and media-rich experiences for home and work. FUSE Labs experiences give users new ways to create, connect and collaborate with the people, information and ideas that matter to them.”

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Remo Knops
Remo Knops

Dear Mr. Singley,Thank you for the nice comment, and the technology space -especially mobile technology and computer science- are characterized by short development times, high degrees of innovation, entrepreneurship, reconfiguration of business models, etc. All very interesting !What do you expect as a response from Google ?// Remo Knops


Thanks for the shout out, I appreciate it. Very interesting to see how this relationship between Msft and Facebook is going, isn't it? We'll see how Google responds...