At a media event at its headquarters in Palo Alto, Calif. on Thursday, Box.net unveiled the latest version of its cloud-based, file-sharing software. The service enables Box users to view and collaborate on files and works in both the browser and on mobile devices; it’s similar to long-time WWD file-sharing favorite Dropbox, but it offers many more enterprise-friendly features, such as granular permissions and role-based access to files. The new version of Box has been rebuilt from the ground up with a greatly simplified UI, as well as offering new collaboration and real-time notification features.
In addition to being faster and simpler, the new interface should provide a better experience for interacting with content by removing clutter and providing much more screen real-estate for the viewing of files within the browser. Box.net believes that many of its competitors in the enterprise collaboration (notably Microsoft SharePoint) are too complex and difficult to use, which is why it is concentrating on making its software as simple and intuitive as possible.
Other significant changes to the new version of Box include:
- Real-time activity updates. Powered using Tornado technology, the new Box brings real-time updates and in-line uploading to users. It works in a similar fashion to the Growl notifications on Mac OS X, keeping users up-to-date with latest content and collaboration activities anywhere on Box.
- New collaboration features. A new discussions tab at the folder level facilitates conversations around projects rather than individual files.
- Box Apps Marketplace. Third-party apps have been available for Box for some time; more than 150 partner apps have been developed and notable integrations include NetSuite, Google Apps , Salesforce and SurgarCRM. The new Box Apps Marketplace provides easy access to those partner applications from a new tab.
Invitations to the new version of Box will start rolling out to the company’s 5 million users today; users will be able to switch between the old and new versions through the end of February.
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