It’s probably not a coincidence that Google is making a significant upgrade to Docs the same week that Microsoft rolls out Office 2010 to the public. Not to be left out, the search giant has modified sharing, visibility and the interface for Google Docs, which is also part of its Office 2010-competitor, Google Apps.
Google is now giving users more clear cut options for sharing documents: private; anyone with a link; or public on the web. All documents start out as private, with the creator as the sole administrator. You can then share your document by setting it as “Anyone with the link,” which allows anyone who knows the web address or URL of that doc to view it. You can set your document as ‘public on the web,’ which allows anyone to find the document on the web. Google says that Public docs are automatically indexed by search engines so they may appear in search results.
Google is also enhancing the visibility options for docs, making it fairly clear to the administrator which document is set to private, semi-private or public. The options now appear next to every doc title and in the docs list. You can also see the full list of editors and viewers by clicking on the ‘visibility option’ next to the doc’s title or on the Share button. And Google has improved the sharing interface and allows you to reset any link you’ve shared, so that you can move a document back to private even if you’ve shared the document.
It’s probably wise that Google has improved its sharing options, considering that Microsoft is now attacking Google in the cloud with the web-version of Office 2010. It should be interesting to see if the use of Word will gain traction in the cloud as Office 2010 is rolled out more widely.