Facebook and Docs—Office Web Apps the Easy Way

Originally published on the Microsoft CIO Network. Join today.
Last November, Facebook announced a new messaging service that will connect you with your friends and family without regard for which transport mechanism each person prefers. You can read the blog post “See the Messages that Matter” by Joel Seligstein, for details.
Enter Docs
What wasn’t in the announcement is that Microsoft Office Web Apps is now integrated into Facebook via a new beta service from FUSE Labs called Docs. This will allow you to take Messages to the next level by making it easy to share Office documents or an animated photo show with friends and colleagues.
Here is what Lili Cheng had to say about Docs in a blog post from last Spring:
“The fact that we’ve been able to adapt the Office 2010 ‘Web Apps’ technology to work directly with Facebook truly speaks to the flexibility and power not just of the Facebook platform, but also of the Office system’s rich ‘contextual collaboration’ capabilities. And we’d never have been able to achieve our critical ‘simplicity’ goals had it not been for our ability to use a new test feature from Facebook that allows us to build an instantly personalized and seamless document authorization & sharing experience directly from our site.”
Why You Should Care
But Facebook is for consumers, right? Sure, maybe in the beginning. But more and more companies are leveraging the power of the Facebook platform for business. While interesting, Facebook fan page are fairly rudimentary in my view—unless you add apps to bring a richness to the UX. And today these fan pages are reaching millions of consumers. As an example, the Starbucks fan page boasts more than 18 million fans. That’s a lot of frappuccinos!
Now with Docs providing a way for you to share presentations and white papers, you’ve given your community a way to really participate in your brand. This could be especially powerful in a B2B scenario—giving partners a way to tell great stories about you.
The other thing that stands out with Docs is the acknowledgement that Facebook is being adopted by the enterprise and that Microsoft Office is now going to where the conversation is. This second point represents a significant shift for Microsoft, and is something you will want to pay attention to. There’s no doubt that our business is moving to the cloud—the pieces are already falling into place.
A View from Office
Last spring, Takeshi Numoto, Corporate Vice President, Office, wrote a blog post talking about Docs. What I found refreshing is that he called Docs an experiment and acknowledged that we really haven’t figured everything out yet:
“I am sure it will also raise new questions like how people think about sharing documents on Facebook vs. other services they use today (like Windows Live, which is central to a lot of our work on Office Web Apps), and how we can help people keep track of all the sharing they do across different services and tools. We are in an exciting era where explorations like Docs and many others are needed to continue to push the envelope on the next generation of user scenarios and experiences. I am sure there will be some bumps along the way, but that's why our jobs in the dynamic tech industry remain so exciting.”
What you are doing to prepare for this new world of work? What new projects do you have that could benefit from this kind of integration? And will you take a chance?

The opinions and views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily state or reflect those of Microsoft.