Docs For Facebook: Create And Share Microsoft Office Files Online

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Microsoft has announced “Docs” for Facebook, a service that allows users to create, edit, and share Microsoft Office documents with their Facebook friends. While some of us may be wondering what took Microsoft so long to show up at the online document creation party, the company insists that Docs is something unique:

“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.”

The “complete document lifecycle” being creating, sharing, discovering, and discussion. You create a document online, make it a shared document accessible by your Facebook friends, at which point they’ll discover it, and you can all comment on it inside Facebook just like you’d comment on a photo, link, or status update.

One of the cooler features is the ability to open an online “Docs” document directly into Microsoft Office. Unfortunately, you’ll need to be using Microsoft Internet Explorer for the feature to work. Those of us that use Google Chrome or Firefox don’t fall into the group of people using “a browser that supports opening files directly from the Office Web Apps,” according to the error message. They should fix that although something tells me that Microsoft, with its direct interest in getting people to use Internet Explorer, won’t have Chrome or Firefox users high on the list of priorities.

Docs is currently in limited beta. You can sign up to be notified when it’s available for you to use by connecting your Facebook account.