Just as Google Docs makes collaborating on documents via the Web easier than Microsoft Office does, Box.Net enables corporate workers to share documents and other files more easily and beyond firewalls than Microsoft SharePoint.
Box.net's killer feature, along with its "freemium" business model, has enabled the cloud content management startup to serve up more than billion files to 3.5 million users, including those at 50,000 businesses, CEO Aaron Levie said.
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Like Google, however, Box.net has neither made a major dent in Microsoft's business, nor reaped a financial windfall. The number of paying business customers is "in the pretty high thousands," with only a tiny handful buying licenses for the entire organization, Levie said.
Box.net and Google were comrades-in-arms in the struggle to unseat Redmond. "They've done a good job of replacing Microsoft Exchange, we do a good job of replacing SharePoint," said Jen Grant, vice president of marketing for Box.net.
To stay ahead of Microsoft and Google and other competitors, Box.net announced two new features on Wednesday.
The first is a time-saving document viewer built into Box.net. The feature converts documents into Flash files that users who can easily skim or view, instead of having to download onto their desktop to open with Microsoft Word or Adobe Photoshop or Windows Media Player.
The variety of file types supported by Box.net is wide: Microsoft Office, including the .docx and .xlsx of Microsoft Office Open XML, OpenOffice, images stored as JPEGs, GIFs, TIFFs and more, MP3 songs, FLV Flash videos, and even Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator files. Box.net is even working on adding support for CAD files.
Users can view the files at full-screen resolution and even print them, though the resolution may not be as sharp as the original document, Levie said.