Apple: iCloud >, Service Ends July 31, Apple’s oft-forgotten online document sharing service, is closing July 31, 2012, according to an email sent to customers by the iWork team Friday afternoon.

The current

Launched as a free beta January 6, 2009 alongside iWork ‘09, the online service was billed as a counterpart to the Macintosh-based office suite and allowed users to quickly upload iWork documents for sharing and commenting. The service never offered the ability to directly edit documents from the web interface but was useful for some users who desired a quick and easy way to disseminate their iWork documents. 

Competing services such as Google Docs, Dropbox, Windows Live Office, and now iCloud meant that the service never gained significant traction and, in Google-like form, the service has remained in beta status since its inception.

With Apple now pushing hard to spread and develop their iCloud service, the Cupertino company feels it is no longer necessary to continue to support The following email was sent out Friday to users:

Dear user, 

Thanks for participating in the public beta.

Last year, we launched iCloud, a service that stores your music, photos, documents, and more and wirelessly pushes them to all your devices. Today, there are already over 40 million documents stored on iCloud by millions of iWork customers. Learn more about iCloud. 

With a new way to share iWork documents between your devices using iCloud, the public beta service will no longer be available. As of July 31, 2012, you will no longer be able to access your documents on the site or view them on the web. 

We recommend that you sign in to before July 31, 2012, and download all your documents to your computer. For detailed instructions on how to save a copy of your documents on your computer, read this support article at  

The iWork team

While iCloud does offer users the ability to sync documents between devices and share documents with others via download links, it does not currently offer the ability to collaboratively comment on documents as did. 

Apple is advising all users to download their documents from the service prior to the July 31 cut-off date. Instructions on how to do that are provided by Apple.