Facebook's new message system supports online Office docs

Facebook users can view -- but not edit -- Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files using Office Web Apps

Microsoft on Monday announced that its Office Web Apps will be integrated with the new Facebook messaging that the latter unveiled early Monday.

Facebook's messaging service, which blends email, instant messages, and text messages into a single inbox, will support attachments of Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents, according to Takeshi Numoto , an executive in the Office group.

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Users who lack a copy of Office installed on their computers will be able to view Facebook-delivered Word, Excel and PowerPoint attachments using Office Web Apps, said Numoto.

Only people who have the desktop version of Office will be able to download, edit and save attachments, however.

Office Web Apps is Microsoft's stripped-down, online-only version of its desktop suite. The online applications -- Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote -- launched in June.

A single-click on the Facebook-delivered attachment -- by choosing "View on Office.com" -- displays the document in the user's browser. Alternately, people can click "Download" to download the file, which can then be opened with Office, assuming the suite is on the machine.

Office Web Apps supports Internet Explorer 7 and later, Firefox 3.5 and later, Chrome and Safari 4 and later.

Microsoft is retaining the mash-up Docs.com, which lets Facebook users share Office documents. Microsoft's Fuse Labs group launched that service last April.

"[Docs.com] will continue in parallel as we continue to test how 'the social' and productivity come together for users," a Microsoft spokeswoman said today.

Also on Monday, the Docs.com team announced that the service has been integrated with Facebook's new Groups feature, which will let Facebook members share Word, Excel and PowerPoint files with selected groups of friends.

Docs.com also relies on Office Web Apps if the user lacks the desktop version of Office. Unlike the Facebook messaging integration, however, with Docs.com, users can also create and edit Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents with Office Web Apps.

The Office Web Apps integration will roll out gradually over the next several months as Facebook offers it to members in stages.

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers, and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed. His email address is gkeizer@computerworld.com.

Read more about Web 2.0 and Web apps in Computerworld's Web 2.0 and Web Apps Topic Center.

This story, "Facebook's new message system supports online Office docs" was originally published by Computerworld.

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