Yesterday, Microsoft released a beta version of a new online service, Docs for Facebook, that brings the Office Web Apps experience to Facebook users. Announced during Facebook's f8 developer conference, Docs lets Facebook users share Microsoft Office documents with friends as easily as they share photos or videos via the service today.

"There are other services out there that let you create and collaborate on documents \\[online\\]," Microsoft Program Manager Pat Kinsel wrote in a post describing Docs that clearly alludes to the competing Google Docs. "But what makes Docs special is it's the only service that supports the complete document lifecycle. That coupled with seamless integration of Microsoft Office 2010 and Facebook makes Docs the best possible document service for the Facebook environment."

According to both Microsoft and Facebook, Docs is essentially a free implementation of Office Web Apps—also free, and set for public release in June—on the new Facebook platform and available only to Facebook's millions of users. (It's currently in an invite-only beta.) It's aimed primarily at sharing, since that's the primary purpose of Facebook, though it also lets users create, view, and edit documents, including Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, PowerPoint presentations, and OneNote notes. Users with Office 2010 will be able to obtain further functionality by opening the shared documents in the full, desktop versions of those particular applications.

If you're a Facebook user and would like to sign up for the beta, please visit Docs.com for more information.