How Microsoft Docs.com Is Different Than Office Online

Here is another option for file sharing

Microsoft Docs.com
(c) Screenshot by Cindy Grigg, Courtesy of Microsoft

Microsoft's Docs.com and Office Online may sound similar at first, but these are two completely different products.

Microsoft Office Online offers free versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote.

Docs.com facilitates file sharing. Anyone who works with big files on a regular basis likely has a favorite file sharing service. Some professionals work for organizations that require the use of a specific file sharing service, making this choice a bit of a moot point. But if you do find yourself needing a file sharing service, or you need to switch services, you may want to check out Microsoft's Docs.com.

Couldn't You Already Share Documents from Office?

Yes! Since Office 2013, Microsoft has been adding sharing features to the backstage area of program interfaces. This means you can select File - Share then choose your method of choice: email to someone else, save to OneDrive or even post to your blog.

What makes Docs.com different, and potentially useful, is this is a dedicated site for file sharing. So, while you can share from program interfaces through OneDrive, Docs.com is a more direct method, focused entirely on file sharing.

Features of Microsoft Office Online

On the other hand, Microsoft Office Online gives you online versions of Microsoft Office programs.

You do need a Microsoft Account to use these, as well as an internet connection. In your browser, you can use these simplified web apps without downloading the full desktop software to your computer or device. This means you can open documents, make edits, create new documents, and more — just not with the full range of features offered by the desktop versions.

Like desktop versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote, these streamlined apps allow you to share documents, but not with as many bells and whistles as Docs.com provides.

In that sense, Docs.com can be seen as a specialized, separate service that offers more of features Office Online and Office for desktop only dabble in.

Features of Docs.com

  • Social Look and Feel. Docs.com has a more "profile" feel to it than other services I have used. For example, as shown in this screenshot, you can make a profile statement about yourself or your work, upload a profile image, and more. 
  • Document Album Collections. Here's another feature that makes Docs.com feel more social and innovative. Rather than compiling albums of images like you do with your social media accounts, you can create document albums to be viewed or shared. You can also embed content. This means Docs.com can be a kind of portfolio tool as well.
  • Easy Sharing from Your Microsoft Account. Other file-sharing services such as Dropbox make it pretty easy to save and share files through an online account, but Docs.com is available under the same Microsoft Account you already use for desktop, mobile, online or cloud (Office 365) versions of Office, making it just that much more streamlined. Share your documents whether you are working in Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, as well as a few you may not be using yet: Sway or Mix. You can also share PDF files.
  • More Options Than OneDrive. As mentioned, OneDrive already does some of these tricks, but not as extensively. If you share a lot of files or want to showcase your work publicly, OneDrive will probably provide a snazzier experience both for you and those you share items with.

How Does "Docs on Facebook" Fit In?

The Docs.com project stemmed from a previous one: Docs on Facebook. However, Microsoft has stated that a different team developed Docs.com so the link is not a significant one for those jumping into the file-sharing site now.