We mentioned Google's slew of June updates for Google Docs earlier this week, but the team rolled out new sharing capabilities yesterday, so here's a closer look:

Google Docs users can now choose from three different options when it comes to the visibility of their documents on the Web:

Public on the Web: This option enables anyone and everyone on the Web to find and view the document. Share the URL in any public space and the document will be indexed by Google and other search engines, and change the URL to control access. 

Anyone with a link: This option closes the document to the public, unless they have a special link to access it (sent via e-mail, for example).

Private: This option restricts access to the creator and anyone the creator has approved to view it. 


Each document is private by default, and their visibility setting can be found next  to their title in the Docs list, or within the document itself. At any time, users can change the settings, add editors, or view who has access. Furthermore, users can batch edit by selecting multiple documents and changing their settings in one straight shot.

Google's efforts to offer a viable alternative to Microsoft Office don't look like they're going to let up any time soon, but we can't help but wonder how effective they really are. A recent remark from JP Gownder of Forrester was particularly interesting: 

In some ways, the Office vs. Google Docs debate doesn't merit a lot of consideration —- it's still no competition. In terms of usage and penetration, Google Docs remains a failure —- so far, anyway. Only 4% of U.S. online consumers say they regularly use Google Docs, according to Forrester's Consumer Technographics PC and Gaming survey.

Meanwhile, Microsoft has been busy with their own -- free -- online Web applications. Will they push Google completely out of the water? Probably not, but it'll be interesting to see who people choose now that the pricing is virtually the same.