ThinkFree Office Online

By Anne Chen  |  Posted 2006-08-03 Print this article Print

ThinkFree Office Online ThinkFree Office Online is the most mature of the three online apps we evaluated, offering great collaboration features that we hope will be picked up in future versions of Microsoft Office.
For example, users can invite other users to view and/or edit a particular document by sending an e-mail invitation via the ThinkFree Webtop.
ThinkFree Office Online comprises the Write word processor, the Show presentations application and the Calc spreadsheet. The Webtop, or home page, gives users quick access to all three of these application and to saved documents and files. A free ThinkFree Office Online account gets you 1GB of online storage that can be used to save documents created in ThinkFree Online. Users also can upload documents or even executable files to the service. Files can be accessed from any computer with Internet connectivity. One of the things that makes ThinkFree Office Online stand out is that it looks and acts very much like Microsoft Office. The ThinkFree office suite uses Microsoft Office formats as its native file formats, and it looks enough like Microsoft Office 2003 that users should have no problems getting used to it. Users also have the ability to save documents as PDFs (something that will likely not be possible with the forthcoming Office 2007). We had no problems importing any of our Microsoft Office test documents into ThinkFree Office Online, but the formatting of the documents was slightly off after we worked on them in ThinkFree and then exported them back to Microsoft Office. In our word processor document, for example, ThinkFree Office Online inserted line spaces that were not present in the original document. Users will also notice that the online ThinkFree suite is substantially slower than the offline Microsoft Office. ThinkFree Office Online is written in Java and therefore runs in any browser, but it can be sluggish at times, particularly when launching the suite or an application in the suite for the first time during a session. What users likely will not notice, though, are the ads that support the free service: Advertisements run along the right-hand side of ThinkFree documents—akin to what a user would see in Googles Gmail application—but we didnt find the ads obtrusive or bothersome during tests. We liked that ThinkFree Office Online is blog-friendly: The office suite allows users to create an entry and then publish directly to a blog. ThinkFree supports a number of blog platforms, including TypePad, WordPress and Blogger. A server-based version of ThinkFree Office is also available, and eWEEK Labs will be taking a look at it in the near future. Senior Writer Anne Chen can be reached at Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, reviews and analysis about productivity and business solutions.

As a senior writer for eWEEK Labs, Anne writes articles pertaining to IT professionals and the best practices for technology implementation. Anne covers the deployment issues and the business drivers related to technologies including databases, wireless, security and network operating systems. Anne joined eWeek in 1999 as a writer for eWeek's eBiz Strategies section before moving over to Labs in 2001. Prior to eWeek, she covered business and technology at the San Jose Mercury News and at the Contra Costa Times.

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