May 11, 2006

Thinkfree Office

Thinkfree Office is another Web 2.0 web-based application – targeted squarely at capturing market share (and revenue) from the leading productivity application, Microsoft Office. Thinkfree Office is like Microsoft in nearly every way except you use it through a web browser, and as such you’ll need a broadband internet connection.

ThinkFree office gives you up to 1GB of online file storage – plenty for most. It also lets you create Microsoft Office compatible Word, Excel and Powerpoint files. Like MS Office, you can even add images and graphs to your work. As ThinkFree is online you can also collaborate on work with colleagues through the internet, something that is difficult to do effectively using MS Office.

I tested the ThinkFree office for a week and was impressed. Apart from not being able to access any of my documents when the internet was offline ThinkFree performed well and as promised. ThinkFree Office feels very familiar. If you know how to use MS Office then ThinkFree Office will immediately be obvious to you.
There are two editing modes you can use, Quick and Power Edit. I found the Quick edit mode to be faster (on my Mac) giving you access to only commonly used functions, while the Power edit mode resembled more of a 'computer window' type interface. At times the Power edit mode lagged behind while I was typing however it is better if you prefer the feel of working in a regular computer window. Additionally, when editing in Power edit mode I couldn’t return back to the quick edit mode – the only solution was to download the file and continue editing it on my Mac.

In terms of price you can't do much better the ThinkFree - it is free. As a comparison, Microsoft Office 2003 costs $625. For both the education and the home market ThinkFree is a great alternative to MS Office, and the price doesn't get much better. If you do only basic amounts of word processing and an occasional spreadsheet ThinkOffice is great.