FRAMINGHAM (04/05/2000) - Pitney Bowes, the company known for its postage metering products, this week launched a new online document sharing service.
The free Expedocs service lets users post documents online that can be shared with any number of colleagues via a Web browser or directly from a Windows application. The originator of the document can set access levels at the individual level.
"We're offering a service for secure online document sharing, management and storage for collaborative workers," says Suti Prakash, director of new business development at Pitney Bowes. "The service can be used for any document type, be it contracts, reports, analyses or budgets."
The process is relatively simple: A user logs on to the Expedocs Web site and signs up for a free account. Once they have a user name and password, they can post any type of documents they want using drag and drop or by saving directly to Expedocs from an application such as Microsoft Word.
Once a document is ready to be shared, it is placed in a "NetEnvelope" and the user generates a cover memo that is sent out to all the members of a user-specified team. The user can set specific access writes such ranging from read-only to full access, depending on the user.
People wishing to view the document need only register at the Expedocs site.
Expedocs sends out notifications every time a document is changed. The system does not however handle automatic versioning. For that, Prakash recommends using the "track changes" feature in Word, for example. Users also can manually build new files for each version of a document.
When users first access the service, an ActiveX or Java applet of around 45K bytes is downloaded to the client browser. The service also reads the Windows registry to see which applications the user has installed. This allows Expedocs to interact directly with Word and Excel, for instance. The connection between client and server uses Secure Sockets Layer for added security, Prakash says.
People that sign up for the free service get 10M bytes of storage space, e-mail notification, change tracking and editing capabilities. A premiere service, available for US$49.95 per year, gives users 100M bytes of storage, disaster backups and allows for the use of digital signatures.
Expedocs is at http://www.expedocs.com/.