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Box shakes up site with complete makeover, new tools

Box.net today is unveiling a new look and feel to its cloud-based collaboration software offerings, a major transformation that's not only offering new tools but also simplifying its user interface.

Box.net today is unveiling a new look and feel to its cloud-based collaboration software offerings, a major transformation that's not only offering new tools but also simplifying its user interface.

At the heart of the new look is a redesign that centers around the content on the site by devoting more real estate - roughly 30 percent more of the screen - to the viewing of files. In addition, the company is bringing real-time updates to the users. It's added discussion tabs at the folder level so that collaborators can have discussions around a particular project, instead of just a single file related to that project.

The company also announced a new marketplace for partner applications, now at about 150.

The idea behind the new Box, said CEO Aaron Levie, is to create a better experience for the actual user, the employee who has to work in the product. For too long, software makers - notably Microsoft and its SharePoint offering - have been designed for the company, not the actual end user.

Sure, a product being sold to a company has to include features for all scenarios and take into account things like regulatory compliance and security. But that's led to bloated software that's less than ideal for the actual people who use it in their everyday jobs.

He said Box's new offerings address the concerns of an enterprise but also take into account how people will use it. And because it's cloud-based, he sees it as more efficient for enterprises, compared to older models.

The cloud sell is one we've heard before. Big names like Google and Salesforce have been applauding the advantages of the cloud - instant software updates, lower costs, remote and real-time access - for some time now.

To date, Box has about 5 million customers and Levie said the growth among Fortune 500 companies is on the rise.

In a statement, he said:

2011 is the year that the cloud will tip for content management in the enterprise, and at Box we're committed to leading that movement by bringing simplicity to end users and IT departments alike. With the new Box, we've overhauled the design to make sure that the user experience is simpler and more elegant than ever before. This will continue to be our primary competitive advantage as organizations look to move off of feature-bloated and under-used legacy systems like Microsoft SharePoint.

The rollout to the new look will begin today and when users receive invitations to switch to the new look, they will be able to toggle between the old and new versions for about 30 days to allow for some transitional usage.