Sleep tight, Google Apps; Microsoft's Docs for Facebook is no threat - yet

Sleep tight, Google Apps; Microsoft's Docs for Facebook is no threat - yet

Summary: Microsoft Docs.com for Facebook - a contender against Google Docs someday, but not yet.

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One of the headline grabbers to come out of yesterday's Facebook developer's conference was Microsoft's Docs.com, which some have already started to call a Google Docs killer.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

That's not to say that Microsoft's FUSE Labs, which has spent about four months putting together docs.com, hasn't done a nice job with it. If you're a fan or - or even just a forced user of - Microsoft Word, Excel and/or Powerpoint. you'll feel at ease with docs.com. But the integration of it with Facebook, as well as their desktop counterparts, makes it awkward and clunky.

I was given a first-run version of docs.com to check out. It's still a little rough around the edges and not ready for prime time, in my opinion. The page load times are painfully long and some of the most basic tasks - such as simply adding a column to an online Excel spreadsheet caused the browser to freeze up. It ran into a number of errors trying to import a Microsoft Excel file.

It kind of reminded me of my experiences with Vista.

Google deserves a lot of credit for what it's done with Google Docs and the entire apps suite. Sure, Google Docs is a bit slim on the tools and features that we've come to expect from Microsoft Word but the important tools - the ones I really need for everyday tasks - are there. Likewise, some tools - such as real-time collaboration - show that Google truly "gets it" when it comes to how people want to collaborate.

MIcrosoft's version for Facebook falls short. But the thing for everyone - including Google - to remember is that docs.com has some potential to become a real contender if Microsoft steps up its game on collaboration. I certainly hope that the company plans to take the docs.com concept beyond the Facebook crowd only - though it doesn't sound like it. Here's why that's a problem:

  • Word, Excel and Powerpoint are productivity tools - and productivity tools are primarily still for the work environment. That's where Google's big push is.
  • Many work environments are still searching for the business value of Facebook, besides being a time suck on the productivity of their employees. Many still block access to social networking sites, which basically makes docs.com useless for those office workers who are most likely to be collaborating with.
  • And how many of you are Faecbook friends with - or better yet, care to be Facebook friends with - everyone who you have to collaborate with at work? There are some people who keep their Facebook profiles limited to real-world friends. There are others who - believe it or not - choose to not use Facebook at all.

Microsoft's docs.com for Facebook isn't a Google Docs killer. It's a Google Docs validator, a knee-jerk reaction to a threatening competitor. Microsoft may be on to something - but for now, the folks developing the Google Apps suite can sleep tight tonight. Docs.com isn't much of a competitor.

Also see: Is Microsoft Docs really a 'Google Docs killer' and four other questions (and answers)

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Topics: Apps, CXO, Collaboration, Google, Microsoft, Software, Social Enterprise

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6 comments
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  • Oh it SO is :)

    Good post though!
    zwhittaker
  • thoughts

    "But the integration of it with Facebook, as well as
    their desktop counterparts, makes it awkward and
    clunky."

    Okay, Microsoft's web stuff is still a work in
    progress - but I must say the main part of Office is
    very impressive.

    "Sure, Google Docs is a bit slim on the tools and
    features that we?ve come to expect from Microsoft Word
    but the important tools - the ones I really need for
    everyday tasks - are there."

    Like transitions for slides - erm, nevermind. Umm,
    grammar check? No, just spelling. Tab stops? Well,
    they *just* added it, and it's only the basics.

    What about Word art, smart art, and charts? Nope. You
    only get charts with their spreadsheet.

    If you want to do pretty much anything off of the home
    tab in an office application, you'll want Office
    itself.

    And their presentation app is pretty pathetic compared
    to Office. You can say "they have the basics" for
    their Word equivalent, but their PowerPoint equivalent
    doesn't have what I'd call "the basics".

    There's no way I'd create a presentation in Google
    Docs. Not unless I was extremely desperate.

    . . . and oh, yeah - if you want OneNote, which
    appears to be coming with every version of Office
    2010, forget it. You'll also want Office if you want
    Publisher or Access type functionality.

    OneNote 2010, IMNSHO, is really a fantastic
    application now. If you want to take notes at a
    meeting, or use a Tablet PC to its fullest, there is
    simply no comparison. Nothing in Google Docs can touch
    it.

    If tablet PCs are ever to replace paper notebooks
    completely, the software is there. OneNote 2010 meets
    and surpasses everything required to make a
    replacement for pencil & paper. We just need more
    hardware.

    "to remember is that docs.com has some potential to
    become a real contender if Microsoft steps up its game
    on collaboration."

    They're getting much better there. Every Office 2010
    app I've seen so far has a "share" item under the File
    menu, with several good choices. SkyDrive and
    SharePoint are both there, so "Docs" is only one of
    several options. I'm surprised most people are
    ignoring 2010's sharing options.
    CobraA1
  • RE: Sleep tight, Google Apps; Microsoft's Docs for Facebook is no threat - yet

    I don't know why MS had to come out with docs.com. I have been posting documents and PDFs to my Facebook page via my SkyDrive for a long time now. All of the Office Web Apps, while Beta, still worked great on SkyDrive. I just wish they had integrated the Office Web Apps with Office.live.com.
    MadWhiteHatter
  • RE: Sleep tight, Google Apps; Microsoft's Docs for Facebook is no threat - yet

    WRONG!

    MS Office Web Apps beats Google Docs, it's in a different league. Have you even tried MS Office Web Apps yet? :)

    http://www.timacheson.com/Blog/2009/sep/microsoft_launches_office_web_applications
    Tim Acheson
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