Microsoft is defending itself against yet another free cloud-based alternative to its Office software suite. Today, Box announced it will launch Box Notes, a new document creation and collaboration tool designed to allow other Box users to work with each other.
The official Box blog shows how the company, without naming names, is going after the audience that uses Microsoft Office and Google Docs with Box Notes. The blog states:
Our belief is that existing word processors have overshot the market, building ever more complex features, many of them still related to printing documents. At the opposite end of the spectrum, social communication and messaging applications have enabled new forms of continuous productivity not previously seen in the workplace. Box Notes is a blend of these two categories.
Box Notes uses what it calls "note heads" to show which person is working on a certain document. A profile picture of that user is seen by everyone else on the left side margin as he or she makes changes to the document. Box Notes is currently in a private beta but there's no word on when it will be released to the public.
Of course, Microsoft is not one to take a challenge to its Office domain lightly. In a post today on the official Office blog, Microsoft stated there seems to be quite a few new document creation tools announced in recent weeks. It added, "They're flooding the market with point solutions that have rudimentary levels of functionality and a variety of user experiences."
Microsoft says its free Office Web Apps, which offer versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote via a web browser, allow users to create, edit and share Office documents across a variety of platforms with a consistent interface. While the blog does state that the desktop versions of these apps offer more features, " ... Office Web Apps are a great solution for a lot of people, and a better option than the alternative point solutions."
Just a few weeks ago, Box announced that it had brought in Steven Sinofsky, the former head of Microsoft's Windows division, as an advisor. While it's likely that Box Notes was well into development before Sinofsky's involvement in the company was revealed, it will be interesting to see if his influence will be felt in future versions of the service.