March 5, 2014
Netanyahu's inaction to Obama's provocations sends powerful message
Kerry, after apparent criticism by Schumer, seeks to allay skepticism on diplomacy
How to ruin a perfectly good kid in 10 simple steps
2014 Oscars played it safe, but was faith lost in the shuffle?
Apple joins Hobby Lobby in touting corporate values beyond profit
March 3, 2014
Alina Dain Sharon: In the Hebrew calendar, a leap year has extra month, not day
Latest Obama appointment to prove Prez set on emasculating so-called Israel Lobby
Jewish World Review
Feb. 17, 2006
/ 19 Shevat, 5766
Is ThinkFree Office A Microsoft killer?
Who says your productivity software has to reside on your computer? Not
ThinkFree Corp. of San Jose, Calif. The firm's eponymous ThinkFree Office
Online, http://online.thinkfree.com, offers 30 Mbytes of storage, the
rough equivalent of 15,000 pages of text, for you to store documents,
presentations or spreadsheets, which can be edited with the firm's
"clones" of Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint.
The cost? Zip, zero, zilch — which presumably explains the "Free" part of
ThinkFree. It's been six years since I first ran across the firm at a
technology conference; now they seem to have a rather robust platform
But is a free application worth it when business work is involved? A quick
test, occasioned by a trial of a computer that didn't have the obligatory
Microsoft suite installed, tells me yes, at least for simple tasks. What's
more, the Web-based version of ThinkFree Office — there's a retail
package of the software said to run on Windows, Macintosh and Linux
systems — appears to make the jump from Windows to Mac quite easily.
The key is Sun Microsystem's Java, a way to create and run programs in a
variety of environments, or so Sun says. Most people refer to it as a
computing "environment," not quite an application, not quite an operating
system. However you define it, Java-based applications can, in theory,
easily run on various platforms, so long as the Java software is on your
machine. On Macs and many Windows boxes, that's not a problem.
Once loaded, ThinkFree Office's applications are very similar in look and
feel to their Microsoft Office counterparts. Not every Microsoft Word
feature is available in ThinkFree Office 3 Write, but enough are present
to let me prepare an article or report without too much hassle. I can get
a word count, but not change the case of highlighted text with a menu
option. Spell checking is built in, but there's no online thesaurus.
PowerPoint and Excel files seemed to open quite easily in their ThinkFree
counterpart applications, and there appear to be enough tools to handle
the task of revising such items. As with ThinkFree's "Write," I wonder a
bit as to how complex one could go, but for basic projects, all three
ThinkFree applications appear to be more than sufficient.
Printing may be a different matter. One can save files as Adobe Portable
Document Format, or PDF, files, which can be read and printed on any
number of computers. But the program claims an ability to print to a
printer attached to your computer; in my trial, something triggered a "no
ink" warning when there was, indeed, ink in the printer. A little more
work may be needed here.
I suspect that ThinkFree hopes to "monetize" this free Web application by
selling copies of its software, licenses for a server version for
corporate networks, and extra space to Web denizens constrained by 30
Mbytes of storage. Fair enough: ThinkFree Office shows definite promise
and, on the Web at least, you can't really beat the price.
But the very presence of ThinkFree Office online, however, raises a
question for Bill Gates and his peers: how much longer will users be
forced to buy their applications by the box? The answer, I suspect, is not
very long indeed.
Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.
JWR contributor Mark Kellner has reported on technology for industry newspapers and magazines since 1983, and has been the computer columnist for The Washington Times since 1991.Comment by clicking here.
© 2006, News World Communications, Inc. Reprinted with permission of The Washington Times. Visit the paper at http://www.washingtontimes.com