Shan Sinha and Alex DeNeui are two former Microsoft employees with a mission: to do something with documents that Microsoft has not. Their startup company DocVerse aims to simplify how users share documents on the web by transforming Microsoft Office into an online collaboration suite.
In doing so, DocVerse climbs into the ring with several other collaboration software solutions, including Google Docs. Any guesses as to who will come out victorious?
Sinha, CEO at DocVerse and former Microsoft SharePoint and SQL Server strategist, and DeNeui, also an SQL strategist, began their DocVerse adventure in late 2007 in Seattle. Moving from one rain cloud to the next, they then transferred the whole shebang to San Francisco in the summer of 2008.
DocVerse currently consists of Office 2007 plug-in that gives Microsoft's desktop software enhanced collaboration and synchronization abilities. Specifically, every time you hit the "save" button in Office, a Web version, stored online and equipped with a link for sharing, is automatically updated as well.
DocVerse is *Not* Microsoft Live Workspace
Of course, Sinha and DeNeui are well aware that this sounds an awful lot like Microsoft's Live Workspace, and that's because it is. Live Workspace users also have the capability of installing a plug-in that keeps computer files and Web files in sync. The key difference here between the two offerings is DocVerse’s collaboration abilities.
With DocVerse users can utilize a group editing feature in order to edit one copy of the same document without having to check it out and then check it back in. Currently, the plug-in works with Microsoft PowerPoint 2007 only, but support for Word and Excel 2007 is expected this spring.
Introduce yourself to the software by sharing a document. To do this, use either the URL provided or enter your group’s e-mail addresses. As changes to the document are made, they're synced back to the online version. To prevent any catastrophes, the DocVerse software uses a confliction resolution system to deal with any potential conflicts between the updates.
Rest assured that you won’t lose any information because as edits continue, DocVerse not only creates new versions, but also saves the older versions in case you need to revert back.
Additionally, a record of all edits is kept in a convenient news feed-like feature that displays in the sidebar of any open document.
Microsoft is Big Fish, Google is Even Bigger Fish
Rumor has it that due in the next version of MS Office is the ability for users to create, edit and collaborate on Office documents through their Web browsers. Additionally, most of us are probably familiar with Google Docs, a free service that has long since spearheaded real-time collaboration. How will DocVerse compete knowing similar solutions are both offered by and on the horizon for Internet super stars?
Sinha doesn't seem to be concerned just yet, stating the key to their success will be "backward compatibility." By assuming that Microsoft will focus mainly on their newest release of Office, Sinha expects to shine by aiming to make DocVerse compatible with Office 2003, 2007 and the upcoming Office 14. Considering that almost half of the market is still running on a combination of Office '03 and '07, Sinha may be onto something.
Nobody said winning in the big leagues was going to be easy, but at least DocVerse is off to a good start with already having raised over US$ 1.3 million for enhancements. Watch and see if filling in what Microsoft thus far left out is as promising as it sounds (and more importantly, if it's enough to keep DocVerse in the ring with Google Docs) by following the brave little company's Website.