"No, this is not GDrive," said Google product manager Vijay Bangaru in a phone interview, who characterized the announcement as an extension of Google Docs.
The existence of GDrive has been rumored since at least 2006.
The ability to upload, share, access, and search any file of 250 MB or less isn't quite the ultimate cloud storage solution -- graphics professionals, for example, often use much larger files -- but it's a significant expansion of the utility of Google Docs for making modestly-sized files more easily accessible online and for collaboration.
"Instead of sending five attachments out, there's a folder that you always go to," said Bangaru. "In terms of consumers, it replaces all those times you e-mail a document to yourself."
And there's more to it for business users. Using the Google Documents List Data API, Google Apps administrators can manage permissions for all their users and monitors files shared outside their domain. They can also create applications that can handle batch uploading, updating, and deletion of files stored in Google Docs.
Three Google partners have already build such applications for Google Apps Premiere Edition users: Memeo Connect, a desktop client for migrating files into Google Docs, accessing them locally or in the cloud, working offline on Google Docs files, and file synchronization; Syncplicity, which provides automated file back-up, management, and sync services; and the Manymoon online project management app.
Being able to store any file does not mean any file will be viewable in one's browser. Google product manage Anil Sabharwal said that Google has focused on making Office files, PDFs, and image formats viewable through Google Docs and that additional formats will be added over time.
All users get 1 GB of free storage and more storage can be purchased by both consumers and enterprises.
For consumers, the price for extra storage is for $0.25 per GB per year. Consumers who purchased extra storage for Gmail (currently includes 7+ GB free) and Picasa (includes 1 GB free) can now use their paid storage allotment with Google Docs.
For business users, extra storage cost more due to Google's service level commitment: $3.50 per GB per year or 3.00 per GB per year in the EU.
According to Bangaru, the new storage capabilities in Google Docs will be enabled in the next few weeks. Once that happens, users will see a notification message upon signing in to their Google Docs account.