There are two things we always seem to want from our applications these days: simplicity and ways to interact with our colleagues. Today, Box.net (news, site) unveils a new version of their cloud content management solution that offers both.

If you are one of the lucky ones hanging out with Box at their headquarters in San Francisco, you got the news first hand. For the rest, well, Box has spent the last six months redesigning the interface of their content management solution with a strong focus on simplicity, and some nice collaboration and real time activity capabilities thrown in.

What's Different in Box?

With the focus on the content, Box has given more real estate to viewing files in the browser -- 30% more to be exact. A new Discussions tab can also be found, offering teams the ability to initiate conversations around projects and not simply individual files.

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Box.Net Standard View

Add to that real-time activity updates using Tornado technology providing users instant notifications on activity surrounding files and projects.

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Box.Net Real Time Updates

And finally, Box has joined the growing list of vendors who offer an Apps Marketplace. Now Box has had open APIs since 2006, resulting in over 150 applications that connect to Box in some way, but this is their first official marketplace.

According to Levie, this is the first step in their Apps Marketplace road map, so expect to hear more news on this front this year.

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Box.net Apps Marketplace

Why Redesign?

We asked Aaron Levie, CEO of Box why a new redesign now. He told us that with the 50 updates pushed out to users in 2010 focusing on workflow and security enhancements, the company wanted to improve on the simplicity of the platform. The changes also lay the groundwork for what's to come. He stated that there are fewer lines of codes, allowing Box " to push new innovations to our users far more efficiently".

A Beta has been in use by a subset of Box users, and along with extensive testing, the changes seem to have been very well received. Said Levie:

The truly great thing about delivering our service over the web is that we can quickly make adjustments to the new Box based on early user feedback and usage patterns, so by the time we move all users over to the new Box at the end of February, it will be even better.

The Box interface was very streamlined as it was, so it will be interesting to log into the new version and see just how much the improvements will make working and collaborating even better.

The invites to the new Box experience roll out today and will be available to its 5 million users over the next 30 days. During that period you will be able to switch back and forth between the old and new interface. But after that, out with the old, and in with the new.