Microsoft is about to re-launch a file sharing service called Docs.com.
Docs.com has been in private beta since March. But Microsoft has been very quiet about it, apparently to avoid distraction from the main document collaboration show that already exists through Office 365.
The service, now in public beta, enables users to share all kinds of document formats, including PowerPoint, Excel, Word, PDF, Sway and even Office Mix (the video add-in for PowerPoint).
The concept goes back to 2010 when Microsoft FUSE Labs and Facebook partnered to provide a basic document editing suite, similar to Google Docs. It was designed to make it easy to discover, create and share Office documents with Facebook friends.
However, it has been moved to a new URL because Microsoft claims this Docs.com service is new and improved, with different features than the Facebook service.
If it all sounds like ... email or even OneDrive, well, that's because it is, a bit. The difference here is that you can take the content that has been shared and feed it directly into a web page, making it easier to share. You can also share content through links.
The content can come from your own computer, your OneDrive account or from around the web. For the moment, however, the service is available only on the web so it is somewhat limited.
Why Microsoft has spent time developing this is a bit of a mystery. It offers basic file sync and sharing capabilities to everyone who has a Microsoft account through OneDrive, which are the millions worldwide who already uses Outlook.com.
But then it’s not the only mystery around free Microsoft products. People who want to use Office apps like Word, Excel, PowerPoint or Sway without paying can do so through Office.com. Ever since this was announced, some have argued it was a questionable move that could damage Office suite sales.
However, the goal simply seems to be getting users into the Microsoft universe. While there are no hard numbers, certainly Office 365 subscriptions are booming.
Docs.com seems to be one more effort to tear people away from Google Apps — and perhaps, down the road, get them to join the Office family.