I'm a daily user of Google Docs. The main reason being that it's very easy to not only create documents but also to share and collaborate with others. Granted, the Docs themselves aren't as feature-rich as ones created with local versions of Office suites such as Microsoft Office, but they get the job done.
Yesterday Microsoft announced a new version of Office for the Web called Microsoft Docs. Instead of requiring users to have a Microsoft Live account to access it, this time the company has partnered with Facebook, allowing any Facebook user to login to the service and then share Office docs with friends. The service, located at Docs.com, is still in invitation only mode, but the interface shows you being able to upload your own documents as well as create PowerPoint, Excel and Word docs via the service.
The launch of Docs.com and integration with Facebook is an interesting move by Microsoft. As of yesterday Facebook counts more than 400 million users, so you can imagine how quickly Microsoft's Docs.com could pick up speed if the implementation was ready for prime time. Unfortunately, according to a post by Sam Diaz, it's still pretty rough. Granted, it's only been around for four months, according to Sam's article, which is probably why it's still invitation only. Even so, Zach is calling it unstoppable, especially since Microsoft already has the Docs.com domain name.
With Microsoft now really putting some effort into an online version of Office, should Google be worried? Right now it's not clear how many users of Google Docs there are, but I can tell you first hand that I've already seen the need for Google Docs to step up its Microsoft Office compatibility. For example, in just the last week I've had people send me PowerPoint and Word docs that didn't render properly in Google Docs. In addition, I have experienced far too many occasions where something I composed in Google Docs rendered incorrectly when exported as a PDF.
So, should Google enhance its existing offering or just buy someone else's? In the past Google has purchased companies and then integrated them into its online offering, and the timing couldn't be better for that to happen again.
One of my favorite feature-rich online offerings is from Zoho.com. I've used a number of the company's offerings in the past, including its Zoho Creator online service, which lets you create an online database in seconds. But if you dive a bit deeper, you'll find that the company also offers up a feature-rich online word processor, Zoho Writer, that blows away Google Docs from a feature stand-point. I specifically call out the feature part, since Google's online offering has sharing down pat.
I used to think that Microsoft should pick up Zoho to really put together a solid online offering, but now I think that Google would be better served by buying Zoho and integrating its offerings into Google Docs. Zoho offers a service for just about everything you'd want to do online. Sure there's overlap with Google's own online offerings, but in many cases Zoho's offering is better.