Box is a cloud-based storage and content sharing platform that seeks to go a step further than its competition such as DropBox or SkyDrive (although DropBox is not yet available on Windows 8, this is just a generic comparison of features).
The Box app for Windows 8 is very similar to the SkyDrive app. And adding files to it will feel familiar to anyone who has used SkyDrive already because it uses the same framework to browse files on the system through the Metro interface.
The place where Box wins out is in its collaboration features such as the one that allows commenting beside them. But the most important aspect here is that you can add other users as ‘collaborators’ and not just people who have access to the content. All collaborators and leave comments on each document and given the right level of permissions, can also upload new versions of the document. This way there’s a built in version control that is clear and easy to use, especially with the comments that everybody’s going to be putting in.
When you launch Box, you are taken to the home screen that features three main sections — All Files, Recent Files and Updates. If you are constantly collaborating on some files, you are likely to be more interested in the last section because it shows all the latest updates made to a file. Recent files are files that have added recently and all files is not really every file you have on the home screen but just the topmost parts of it. You can go to the actual All Files area by clicking on the ‘More’ button beside the ‘All Files’ title.
Uploading a file is easy but not necessarily intuitive on the first go because you can’t do it from the home screen. There’s no ‘Upload’ option on the contextual menu when you are on the home screen. You will get this option when you are in the All Files area or inside a folder. You will also get a Invite Collaborator option but then it was greyed out this version of the App, mostly likely because this is not the final version of the app.
Box also allows you to do file management from within the app. So you can create a new folder, move and copy files in between locations and also delete files. There’s also a slideshow feature that shows you a large fullscreen slideshow of all the selected files.
You will also get an option to pin selected files ‘to Start’, which means they will always be visible on the main Windows 8 Metro Start Screen as its own tile! This is good for anything that you are working on every time you are on Box.
Box aims to the de facto cloud sharing service for the enterprise and as a result it highlights the fact that its service is really secure. The Windows 8 app still has some stability and performance issues but they expected to go away once the app is released in its final version post the Windows 8 launch.