Facebook and Microsoft launch Docs.com -- a new web-based MS Office!

Breaking news: Microsoft and Facebook have teamed-up to launch Docs.com. Welcome to the future!

Get started! Try it now: Microsoft Docs (www.docs.com)

This exciting move to launch Microsoft Docs is a masterstroke of pure genius by both Facebook and Microsoft. MS Office Web Apps, integrated with SkyDrive and MS Office 2010, is already arguably the best web-based software of its kind currently available online. This development is obviously a bold extension of that service. Facebook users are in for a real treat, this is seriously useful stuff.

Docs is a powerful example of how the web will work in the future. Leading companies like Microsoft will operate services online, farming-out the social and user management aspects of the system to a major social hub like Facebook where that type of functionality is of course their speciality. On the other hand, social networking websites like Facebook can bring in other companies to take care of features that aren't their core business, like web search. This latest news looks like a natural progression of the powerful symbiotic, synergistic partnership between MS and FB. The web search on Facebook is already powered by Bing. (Hardcore geeks and techies may be interested to note that the new Docs website looks like it's powered by ASP.NET MVC.)

To fully appreciate the importance of this news, one must understand it within the context of the strategy shared by the major companies shaping the future of the web. Facebook has just announced the Open Graph. Many websites will use Facebook as a hub for social network integration. Even major websites which already have a social network aspect, like Yelp where people submit and share reviews of places they've been to, can benefit by hooking into this new layer of integration. Users of various websites will be able to see the activity of people in their Facebook social network. This is obviously of great value to many websites, where the average user has a small network on the website its self and a relatively large one on Facebook.

This new model is the future of the web! The web is evolving. This is the new web. The social web. The web in the post-search era. The next-generation web, which will exist long after plain, boring old Google which is already being left behind, has passed into the history books...

It's worth reading the original announcement on Facebook's official blog. Also check out the Docs.com Blog. There's an excellent review of Docs with screenshots on ZDNet. On the tech blogoshpere I found a particularly informative article along with a useful Q&A.


21 April 2010

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Tim Acheson (23 Apr 10, 10:32)

If you're interested in how Microsoft's web-based Office apps have evolved, a while ago I blogged some useful background information on the closely related service currently in Beta, MS Office Web Apps , and how you can test-drive it today.

Tim Acheson (23 Apr 10, 12:19)

To put into context the major implications of this news, remember that Facebook has overtaken Google as the most popular website in the USA!

Future of the web? I hope not. Docs uses Silverlight, which means it won't load on any popular mobile device. I'm using the open source Moonlight plugin in Ubuntu, and the Docs application hangs on startup.

Sorry, but the future of the web does not involve crappy 3rd party plugins. At least Google Docs actually loads on platforms other than Microsoft's precious.

I'm also pretty sure the future of the web will allow for greater open interoperability between completely disparate web services. Not just the few centralized mashups that corporations feel would work well together.

Tim Acheson (28 Apr 10, 17:57)

Hi James, thanks for your thoughts, I just want to correct a factual error in your comment. Your information is incorrect, in a way that is characteristic of anti-MS comments in general.

Neither Docs.com nor Microsoft Office Web Apps depend on Silverlight! They do perform even better with Silverlight. People need to face the fact that plug-ins offer much richer features and much better performance than Ajax. (Add to that the GPU hardware acceleration capabilities that are built-in with Silverlight!)

There's nothing wrong with third-party plug-ins. To suggest otherwise is pure unfounded dogmatism.( I do have some concerns about Flash, but Silverlight is a superior product.) Browser plug-ins take the capabilities of the web beyond the native capabilities of the web browser, which is a good thing for everybody. If you removed away plug-ins today, you would lose web features that you take for granted.

You have Flash installed on your computer. Why don't you uninstall all plug-ins if you really believe-in and understand what you are saying? ;)

That's perfect, much better than google docs... much quicker and easy


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