Google has quietly added a nifty "Discussions" feature to Google Docs, one that will allow users to collaborate more effectively than using the simple approach of just inserting "comments".
We've noted that Discussions is only available on documents created from yesterday onwards; Google may roll it out to older documents but it has not confirm this yet.
Discussions can be easily configured so that you can receive mail notifications when someone (other than you) interacts with the thread a user created or participated into, not unlike what you'd experience in a traditional forum system like VBulletin.
Users are also allow to edit, delete, "resolve", as well as linking directly to a comment (you will need to have access to the document in the first place though) and mute email notifications on a particular comment.
Discussion reminds us of Wave, the now retired experiment by Google which aimed to change the way people communicate altogether but proved to be too complicated, long-winded to be useful.
Discussion though is not only much simpler than its illustrious predecessor, but also significantly faster and less taxing on resources. The fact that Google Docs is now firmly in enterprise land means that rivals like Microsoft and IBM will be looking closely at any improvements made on the cloud-based suite in the field of collaboration.
Google Docs is part of Google Apps for Business and costs $50 per user account per year with no limits on the number of users; it comes with a host of features like Gmail, Google Calendar, Groups for business, Video for Business, Google Sites storage and much more.