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ThinkFree Online Review 148

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the ripe-for-flash-drive-bookmarks dept.
ThinSkin writes "ThinkFree Online is, simply put, Office without the Microsoft, a collection of free online apps that support and contain most features found in Word, PowerPoint, and Excel. ThinkFree has just released a major upgrade to its features, bumping its online storage to 1GB for each user and adding a lightweight AJAX-based collaboration feature. ExtremeTech has an interesting review of ThinkFree Online's applications and features which reveals a lot to like about this improved webware and, while it may have its occasional quirks, can be great for those who want to edit and create documents on the fly."
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ThinkFree Online Review

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  • I wasn't really expecting much when I saw this article. "Yay, another 'web' application." I must say, though, that the screenshots accompanying the article are extremely impressive. I'm sure if you put both Microsoft Office and ThinkFree in front of a user (the secretary/receptionist where you work, for instance), they wouldn't even be able to tell the difference.

    Even with today's high-speed connections, it is definitely faster to edit a document from a web interface compared to downloading and installin
    • WHERE are the tag-clouds? I was promised TAG-CLOUDS!

      *sulk*
    • At the same time, I don't think that this is "Office without the Microsoft" as the (always completely neutral) ./ description says. I'll take Office 2003 over this any day - although if Office isn't available (which is rarely), it should suffice in a pinch.
      • Re:Looks very nice (Score:5, Insightful)

        by d_jedi (773213) on Tuesday April 25, 2006 @07:41AM (#15195587)
        Go to the site right now:
        "The web site will be unavailable from 3:00AM to 7:00AM PDT on April 25"

        this is exactly the kind of thing why web apps won't replace desktop ones.
        • I think is indicative of ThinkFree's relative size. When was the last time a big website was down? One like, Google or Amazon. ThinkFree would be able to upgrade seamlessly, I expect, once they've grown a bit.

          • Gmail has minor problems relatively often, although the last major outage that I can find [weblogsinc.com] was a year & a half ago (when it was in beta).

            The GP has a point - a large business would be mad to trust their core business applications to a third party with so [slashdot.org] many [mit.edu] potential points of failure.
            • However, if the "web-based Office" market takes off, I'm sure these companies will seek to make extra funds by selling "web-based Office" Server Appliances to the aforementioned large companies, which would largely remove that issue, while still saving the company on individual licenses.
            • Umm, GMail is still in "Beta".

              In any event, the issue isn't whether it's natural for a new web service to have outages, it's whether anyone wants to switch to using a word processor that even has the potential for scheduled downtime. Can you imagine if Microsoft forced people to upgrade their copies of Word at a specific time based on the developers' schedule rather than allowing customers to apply patches at a convenient time?

        • Re:Looks very nice (Score:4, Insightful)

          by theStorminMormon (883615) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (nomroMnimrotSeht)> on Tuesday April 25, 2006 @07:50AM (#15195615) Homepage Journal
          That's like saying "a blackout!! that's why electricity will never replace oil/coal/wood!"

          AJAX is still, in general, a nascent technology relative to industry-standard technologies. And if you're saying "web apps won't replace desktop ones soon" then I agree with you. But I don't agree that web apps won't replace desktop ones ever.

          Given time to let both the internet continue to mature (the electricity grid is still more stable than the web) and to let web app companies mature, I think that web-based computing is not just possible - it's an inevitability.

          -stormin
          • That's a crap analogy. You're comparing a Public utility which is regulated, supported and managed by a government body with some random private software vendor on the internet.

            The electricity boards aint perfect, but you can be reasonably sure that they'll exist 2 years from now, will not be bought over by Microsoft/Oracle/$bigcompany, the prices will remain relatively stable, and will not be ddosed into submission by random skript-kiddies.

            Ajax-based office suites are a farce. I can see some benefit in app
            • If you'd been interested in understanding the point I was making rather than simply trying to "win" teh internet debatezorz you'd realize that the analogy is very apt. Sure, electricity is a public utility now, but did it start out that way? In the early years it was a private venture and had lots of bugs (like randomly giving pedestrians random jolts of electricity). And therefore it had lots of nay-sayers. (These nay-sayers, if they existed today, would be fighting the pro-electricity "fanbois" on le
              • If you'd been interested in understanding the point I was making rather than simply trying to "win" teh internet debatezorz you'd realize that the analogy is very apt. Sure, electricity is a public utility now, but did it start out that way? In the early years it was a private venture and had lots of bugs (like randomly giving pedestrians random jolts of electricity). And therefore it had lots of nay-sayers. (These nay-sayers, if they existed today, would be fighting the pro-electricity "fanbois" on le inte
                • Are you trying not to understand?? Obviously his analogy is talking about comparing these office replacements now, to how electrisity was when it first came out. In the past. Before we had lots of redundancy and multiple sources of power. You know, like history??
                • "Webapps, however, are far more vulnerable: if a singe site - the one hosting the app - is offline, you'll already have the equivalent of a power blackout, despite the fact that both your own system and the rest of the internet are still functioning."

                  Well... except there are ways to build redundancy into applications that have that same fail-over property as power systems. While the average small business doesn't bother to implement these fail-over designs, large infrastructure companies do, or at least sh
              • Whether or not one particular AJAX program is ready to replace Word 2003 (it's clearly not) is really beside the point. Really - you are a perfect example of someone who can't see the forest for the trees. You're so stuck on one particular example you're missing out on what's important.

                Thin client platforms have come and gone; they made sense in an era where clients were not powerful enough, client software was terribly expensive(Do you know what an Unix license used to cost in those days?).

                People ha

                • No no no. You're totally missing the point here. It's not about whether or not making geography is irrelevant for you, it's about whether or not it can make it irrelevant for your grandpa.

                  There's this constant ongoing discussion. Should computers be as easy to use as dishwashers, cars, and lawnmowers, or should users just learn to operate computers? Personally, I fall decisively in the camp that computers need to be more consumer friendly - or at least that consumers need to have access to the benefits
            • It [any Ajax based office suite] may work for purely network-based apps such as email/IM, but falls apart very quickly for UI-intensive apps.

              Why do you say this? I don't understand. This msg is not a troll.

              The user interface on an Ajax app can be completely encapsulated by the client's browser and local programming-- there is nothing in the (G)UI that requires the client to contact the server. My understanding is that this is the way it is normally done. Typical office apps-- word processing, spreadshe

        • BSOD!!! Quick! Somebody call the help-desk, I've got to have this report by noon! Whatever do we do!

          Okay, so way over the top for us, but have you really never had to tell a friend/cow-worker/whom-ever that 'in order to get rid of that blue screen and get their mouse back, for the short term, they need to just turn the computer off, "push the button in front" and turn it back on, then call you back if it does the same thing'?

          How exactly is this different for the average user? Yes, we /.rs would hate to j
        • Another thought, why not take your site down during prime slashdotting hours?
        • Re:Looks very nice (Score:2, Interesting)

          by muellerr1 (868578)
          I agree. Looks like most people responding to your comment seem to think that centralized computing is inevitable. We used to have centralized computing, with dumb terminals. We stopped doing that because we liked the idea of having our own computer in our own office under our own control. Why would that ever change back again? I predict that for connective applications like email, information, and other communications functions we certainly will use centralized servers, but for just about everything e
        • It's still the case that someone else holds your document. That they can peek any time they want to. That they can show your document to anyone else they want to. They can loose your document, they can just prevent you from using your own document.

          Oh you might have laws and agreements that are supposed to constrain them but employees can act badly. Possestion is 9/10ths of the law.

    • Re:Looks very nice (Score:5, Insightful)

      by john.wingfield (212570) on Tuesday April 25, 2006 @08:04AM (#15195667)

      I'm sure if you put both Microsoft Office and ThinkFree in front of a user (the secretary/receptionist where you work, for instance), they wouldn't even be able to tell the difference.

      How sure? They work in fundamentally different ways. You're either saying that secretaries are so dumb that they wouldn't notice the difference between one "complicated" piece of software and another, or you're saying that they don't use the software in enough depth to be able to tell the difference. I think either argument is seriously off the mark.

      Secretaries and PAs are your core users. If the software they use isn't up to scratch, you would soon know about it!

    • It might look nice to you, but if these guys are serious about being "web 2.0" and/or replacing Office then they really need to work on their accessibility. Even that offline message has two big accessibility no-no's: text-as-images, and table-based layout. I tried looking at that page with Fangs (screen reader emulator) and you know what it said?

      "thinkfree dash Internet ExplorerTable with one column and twenty rowsTable with one column and sixteen rowsTable endTable end"

      That's what a visuall

      • Re:Looks very nice (Score:3, Insightful)

        by ElleyKitten (715519)
        It might look nice to you, but if these guys are serious about being "web 2.0" and/or replacing Office then they really need to work on their accessibility. Even that offline message has two big accessibility no-no's: text-as-images, and table-based layout. I tried looking at that page with Fangs (screen reader emulator) and you know what it said? "thinkfree dash Internet ExplorerTable with one column and twenty rowsTable with one column and sixteen rowsTable endTable end" That's what a visually-impai
  • Think Free appears to be down for now, but at 7:00am PDT, you'll (apparantly) be able to have a look [thinkfree.com]
    • Great time to plan some downtime... just when the marketing spirals! Perhaps the site is almost /.ed and they're trying to look good (read: better) =P
    • When you do get to look (I haven't yet), be sure to look for signs of vendor lock-in. The only thing worse than an office suite like MS Office, which stores stuff in a proprietary format, would be a website doesn't really reveal the storage mechanisms at all.

      Personally, I like my work to be mine, or to be free to give to anyone I want to donate that work to, regardless of what technology they can afford. It's my work, and I should be able to say what can be done with it.

      Unless this thing lets me save my w
      • I don't care about the format, online storage is enough to keep me away. You may be able to save it in any manner you like, but why should the software provider have a copy as well? If MS was doing this people would howl like banshees.
  • Online apps suck (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 25, 2006 @07:38AM (#15195576)
    Businesses are never going to use them because of privacy concerns, plus they are unusable if you cannot get online. Maybe they have some other purpose, but as replacement for full blown office suites they are a joke.
    • Never?

      I doubt it. I agree that there's no way I could convince my business to switch to this instead of MS Office. And I wouldn't want to try. But your stability and privacy concerns are entirely addressable. Companies don't refuse to use lightbulbs just because they have to depend on 3rd parties to supply the electricity, and eventually they won't refuse to use applications just because they have to depend on 3rd parties to supply the computational horsepower.

      Web apps will never, in my opinion, replace
      • by Anonymous Coward
        I think you've missed the point. Its not about relying on another company to provide "computational horsepower", but about your sensitive data going back and forth between yourself and the provider, and possibily even being stored on your provider's servers. Why do this when the current Office apps you use do not expose you to this flaw? Another downside to webapps is portability. Can I take my stuff to another vendor, and if so how easy is the company going to make that?
        • I haven't missed the point. You've given a con to web-based computing. I'm not saying the con doesn't exist. I'm simply saying that it's not a deal-breaker. The need for security is relative. With good 128-bit encryption, etc. these folks could get HIPAA compliant. Not only that, but they would be more secure than what a lot of companies (esp. small to medium sized) use now. This isn't secure enough for everybody - but it's secure enough for a lot.

          The trouble is that people always see this as an eith
    • A lot of my customers use thin clients in their business, but use Terminal Sessions to the server to use word and other apps.

      If this could be purchased for use on an intranet, it could be extremly handy. A thin client could be made much more powerful.
      • Good point. An application like this one delivers big bucks to an IT department. No desktop applications to update and keep patched. Every time a new version is out everyone has access simultaneously. An appliance would be much, much cheaper than MS Office which has a featureset that no one on this planet has come close to exploiting. 80% of office (both senses) users would be satisfied with the level of funtionality described in the article.

        Privacy will be an issue for business users. No educated user wou

    • Businesses love Thinkfree in fact. Its enterprise version. Even not advanced as this one 2.x version made some companies really happy.

      Thing is, it runs on one server.

      BTW site is not "slashdotted", that site was taken down 7-10 days ago which I can't remember exactly. I use Papyrus Office on my OS X but I follow thinkfree since its 1.0 version which made people "shock" since it was running in browser with MS JVM. I like/love "software as service" idea and I think it is even a bit late we don't see more stuff
    • plus they are unusable if you cannot get online.

      It wouldn't be impossible to have a barebones client for laptops that lets you work offline, and then sync the changes later.

    • Think of the google appliance. What about a similar idea with ThinkFree. If there are privacy concerns it could be hosted internally on a ThinkFree appliance. It would be wise of ThinkFree to offer something like that.

      Jeremy
    • Statistics Canada has designed an online application to gather census data from Canadians in May. Lockheed Martin designed the software. There's a big gaping privacy concern right there, but you're wrong they aren't going to use it anyway.
  • Now, this is the right use of AJAX..

    I'm tired of seeing projects on the web that worked perfect earlier pumped full with useless AJAX features just because thye can.

    If works as good as it looks I will definitely try this out!
    • Re:About time.. (Score:3, Informative)

      Now, this is the right use of AJAX..

      Unfortunately, it also uses java - from the article:

      ThinkFree uses both AJAX and Java. The company admits that AJAX is more portable in that it doesn't require a plug-in, but they contend that Java is needed to provide true Microsoft Office compatibility and functionality.

      According to this newsforge review [newsforge.com] last year it was a downloadable java app, rather then a webapp.

    • Re:About time.. (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Big_Mamma (663104)
      This isn't AJAX - It's java, embedded in a web browser. They are creating 'light' versions with AJAX, but what you saw is the full version, created with swing.

      Trying to create anything as complex as an office suite with a clientside interpreted language, and html + browser as graphical toolkit is just plain stupid, imo. ThinkFree got the message, and used the right tools to do the job.
  • by MustardMan (52102) on Tuesday April 25, 2006 @07:47AM (#15195602)
    You know, if you are a part of extremetech, at least mention it in your summary. The writeup makes it sound like he just bumped into this site one day and found an interesting article.
    • Agreed. ThinkFree hasn't even finished deploying the upgrade to their servers yet.
      • As a 2.x user (got licensed downloadable) when I first heard about the 3.x version and see it can run in browser again, I was stupid to go to #java and #mac type of channels on IRC to speak about it, with excitement.

        Result: I was banned big time as they thought I must be a spammer.

        At least nobody will ban slashdot.

        Open your eyes, it is an office program running in browser, "software as service". It also means Java delivers while .NET still tries to ban Icaza like people from conferences.

        It is news.. For peo
        • Some guy saw the great news and sent here with hope that people will be interested I bet.

          Some guy sent slashdot a link to his own website so he could make money from advertisements.
  • by Metabolife (961249) on Tuesday April 25, 2006 @07:47AM (#15195604)
    Am I the only one tired of seeing software moved onto the web? I can understand email, since it needs to be accessed everywhere, but word processing? With hard drives reaching the 750GB level, what purpose do online only application serve besides easy access? I also hear talks about whole OSs stored on servers where users have to logon. Guess what, if the server goes down, you are screwed. It's much better to just bring your laptop and keep a backup of current working data on memory stick just in case (Not that word documents are large to begin with).

    Seeing as how Microsoft Office is faster compared to slim the competition, who wants to waste time with downloading online applications for home use? If you're on the road and need some documents stored on a central server you can easily use gdrive to store it. It just seems that everyone can't wait to have their entire computers stored by some big information gathering company.

    Just my .02.
    • It's much better to just bring your laptop
      OK then. You buy me a laptop and I'll agree with you.
      • To the GP:
        Can I be second on your list?

        Also, think about my position, I work nights and goto school during the day. Work doesn't mind if I work on my homework at nights, so long as it doesn't interfere with my job. This is rare. So the only limit is I cannot leave my desk to go work on my homework at some other terminal. So my options are limited to HPUXv11 and Mozilla/Firefox. I have 0 write capabilities for what it's worth, ie /usr/* or /opt/* etc, but about a meg home quota. So how can I work on my
    • What if you're at a job fair and you want to brush up your resume and print it off? And the kiosk PC has 'net access but not the Office suite on it? You can go online, edit your document (which might be on a USB fob) and print out an updated copy. I can see this having many applications (no pun intended). Be imaginative! :)
    • by miyako (632510)
      I agree with this. I actually wrote a rather long blog entry here [blogspot.com] about why I think a lot of web-based "web 2.0" applications are a bad thing (or, at least, not the best thing for the intelligent and creative people in computing to be focused on).
      My main two points were that:
      A: There are security implications involved with using web applications. Theoretically, a cracker, marketing firm, or government intent on getting access to personal documents would only have to gain access to a single server (or cl
      • by hey! (33014) on Tuesday April 25, 2006 @08:15AM (#15195703) Homepage Journal
        Not to disagree, but I think cogent counter arguments can be made.

        A: There are security implications involved with using web applications.

        You get these security implications anyway, the instant you hook a computer up to the net. Spyware. Adware.

        Moving things onto the web stifles innovation.

        Well, the difference between innovation and invention is up to the market. The key though is that users are not competent to administer their own machines; nor are the administrators in most small businesses. Given a trend towards smaller, more ubiquitous, more networked computing, you can imagine a world of stateless workstations with anything of value scrutinized, armored, and backed up by a professional datacenter staff.

        I know people who, if they want to know what their web site looked like last November, just go to archive.org because it's convenient. If you never backed it up, it'd be a life saver.
        • You get these security implications anyway, the instant you hook a computer up to the net. Spyware. Adware.

          Yes but when I store my apps and documents on my PC I control the risk involved. It may be moot when speaking of the general mass market but for me and other security conscious users the effect of taking my apps and data online is that I have to worry that the vendor/provider is as security conscious as I am.

          I use both Linux and Windows. I *can* keep a Windows box secured. It takes some effort (as does
          • I'm not sure I'm a huge fan of things like ThinkFree, but I am a huge fan of solutions which allow your organization to host various services online.

            Java applet versions of NoMachine's NX, for example, give you Citrix-like experience over-the-web. Web hosted e-mail means that once you train your users the only "downtimes" you experience are connection problems.

            Just because you don't want to host all your companies documents on ThinkFree.Com doesn't mean that it isn't a good idea to keep (at least one versio
            • Agreed. I totally concur with your points. As the IT guy at work though I'd want myself and my staff to be the ones in control of the server. The idea of my personal, or my company's, data/applications subject to one vendors online service is what makes me shudder...

        • You get these security implications anyway, the instant you hook a computer up to the net. Spyware. Adware.
          That is true, to an extent, but the point I was trying (and perhaps failed) to make was that with a centeralized system it becomes much easier.
          Traditionally, if you wanted a users documents, you needed to do two things: You needed to somehow compromise that users computer, and then once the computer is compromised, you need to locate relevant documents for retreval. Now, for someone who is a talent
        • The difference is who is in control: if your data is stored on your personal computer, you can yank the cord, turn off the router, or otherwise keep your data where you and only you have access to it. With a web app, you have no way to access the information without that access. You can't just take it offline.

          There is also an issue of trust here. It is much easier to "sandbox" your home computer. I still know people who keep their home office PC off of the Internet so that they don't get distracted. If they
        • The politicians are making noise about ISP data retention. Do we think application survivors will not be swept up as well? And with this, not only will you be on the record for the final version, which is reasonable, but also on the record for all the draft elements as well. Litigator heaven! Hmmm maybe I shouldn't be doing all this checking, previewing and editing of my \. posts.
      • I agree with you on your points. The security implications are the most terrifying, it would be like giving the government a key to look into any and all of your private matters easily. Instead of making all of these applications work through the web browser, why not bundle a separate application capable of connecting to online servers with code based around C++? Heck, why not just show people how to use vmware/RD so that they can use their own word processor from anywhere?

        And to clarify for the others:
      • A: There are security implications involved with using web applications.

        There are security implications to installing closed-source code that you cannot audit, such as the Microsoft Office line of software, on your computer.

        Further, there are security implications to installing dozens of different pieces of software on your computer which you can't possibly keep fully up to date at all times unless you make it a full-time job. With web-based software, the developer can keep the software up to date complet
    • Such an application may actually be relevant to organizations if they could buy the server software and host it for their employees on the network. It helps backup of important data, and the documents are always in the control of the organization. The organisation never loses the data. Thinkfree may be thinking on such lines for all you know. If they have proven technology then convincing corporations will be easier.
    • But Dude... It's in Java.

      JA-VA !!!

      It must be good.
    • Actually, IMAP lets you access your email everywhere, WITH a proper mail client, or with a little systray applet (or mobile phone, or whatever) that checks for new mail. There's really no need for webmail at all, except to give advertising opportunities to ISPs as you read it.
    • "I can understand email, since it needs to be accessed everywhere, but word processing? With hard drives reaching the 750GB level, what purpose do online only application serve besides easy access?"

      Easy access is exactly the appeal of it. Right now, my gmail account has a bunch of 'drafts' that actually store some ideas I've had at home and at work. I've written psuedo-code for some Lightwave scripts I plan on writing down the road. (You never know when inspiration hits you.) I've heard of people workin
    • For you or me, I'd probably agree, and I prefer having my information on my home computer where I can back it up, and do with it as I want.

      For medium to large-ish corporations, there might be some advantage in deploying something like this in-house though.

      You have one point for backup (which could happen already relatively easily), but you also gain an easy point of upgrade to all of your clients (corproate users), plus the price may be very competitive compared to MS Office for a corporate deployment, and
    • what purpose do online only application serve besides easy access?

      Presumably, data backup and redundancy, assuming these services have db replication and/or backup in place, that your average home user can't afford. Plus, free word processor, spreadsheet, and other office tools, no more Microsoft tax.
  • I love it! (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    ive been using thinkfree.org for about a year now after having tried openoffice.

    i simply cannot fathom having to install Office ever again unless it is for macro/VB integration.. and it definately leaves OpenOffice miles behind in terms of proper Office compatibility and change of workflow.

    thank you thinkfree!
    -Sj53
  • by Diomidis Spinellis (661697) on Tuesday April 25, 2006 @07:59AM (#15195645) Homepage
    ... 3:00 AM to 8:00 AM PDT on April 25. We apologize for the inconvenience"

    is the wording on a banner currently appearing on the thinkfree [thinkfree.com] web site. Am I the only one feeling nervous about having my documents residing on an application service provider where their accessibility is beyond my control?

    --
    Code Quality: The Open Source Perspective [spinellis.gr] (Addison-Wesley 2006)

    • Am I the only one feeling nervous about having my documents residing on an application service provider where their accessibility is beyond my control?

      I spent some time researching internet cafes recently. A surprising number of people transact a lot of business through webmail in internet cafes.

      If you take a single use case: a job seeker emailing emploment agencies, they are going to want to have their resume in a rich text format and available from their desktop, wherever it is.

      On the desktop email is

      • Me uses vi to write CV.

        Then unix2dos it (or whatever utility does the conversion).

        Name the file "My CV.rtf"

        Send it to the employment agencies.

        I have been gainfully employed for many years and my CV has never been sent back.
        • I have been gainfully employed for many years and my CV has never been sent back.

          I do my resume in OO.o and recently when I applied for a job I exported it to PDF which I thought would go down as being really professional. The agency guy called me and said "your resume seems to be in some kind of adobe format can you send it again in word"

          Maybe I should have used your rtf trick.

  • What if... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by cultrhetor (961872) on Tuesday April 25, 2006 @08:01AM (#15195653) Journal
    You actually have to do work when you have ... no connection? [Cringes and hides from constantly wired /.ers]
  • by retrosteve (77918) on Tuesday April 25, 2006 @08:03AM (#15195659) Homepage Journal
    Once the Telcos own the internet [tpmcafe.com], how long will things like this be convenient to use?

    All it takes is a golf game between Gates and a few Telco CEO's, and suddenly ThinkFree has really really low bandwidth. Really low.

    I don't know if this is threadjacking or having the insight to connect two apparently unrelated issues. I'll let the mods decide.
    • All it takes is a golf game between Gates and a few Telco CEO's, and suddenly ThinkFree has really really low bandwidth. Really low.

      More likely, Gates offers to pay a large fee for high-speed access to Windows and Office Live, and another fee to slow speeds to smaller, less capitalized startups who can match or exceed MS's innovation but not MS's deep pockets.
  • Worst. Idea. Ever. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gaijin99 (143693) on Tuesday April 25, 2006 @08:04AM (#15195663) Journal
    What is the primary reason why MS Word is a bad idea? Everyone here knows the answer: closed format. If MS decides to take their marbles and go home, your documents may be unrecoverable [1]. You don't put your critical information in a closed format, because if you do the owners of that format own you.

    This is at least five million times worse because you don't even have the closed format documents yourself, they're stored on *their* webservers. They go down? You don't have your documents. They go out of business? You don't have your documents. They decide to cancel your account? You don't have your documents. Also, legally, are they even your documents? How does copyright enter into this, if you write something on their servers, which is stored on their servers, can you really claim exclusive ownership?

    I cannot imagine a worse idea.

    Hard drives are big these days, putting a word processor onto your computer is not difficult, nor even costly since OpenOffice is free. This system *will* go down, all systems do eventually, and when it does I will do nothing but laugh and say "I told you so, but you wouldn't listen" to the suckers who suddenly find their documents unavailable.

    [1] Yes, I know OO.o can read Word format, currently. Who's to say what the next release will bring, no?
    • If MS decides to take their marbles and go home, your documents may be unrecoverable

      New office format is based on XML. It may not be the Open Document Format (or whatever its called) version of XML, but it is XML and a published standard.

      http://www.microsoft.com/office/xml/default.mspx [microsoft.com]
    • First off, you're assuming the documents are stored on the web server. They're not. You can import a Word file, edit for a bit, and save it out to another Word file on your local drive. Nothing (outside of session data) is given to the server.

      It's not a full replacement for Office - MS has actually been adding some nifty features like Office Communicator - but it's handy if you've got your resume on a USB key, and need to edit it when you're in the library.

      -- Hamster
  • After they announced "web" version again (1.0 was running in IE/MS JVM) the old timer thinkfree using people said "It is finally, really free".

    You can't believe that joke for a not-so-popular poor java program. It was everywhere including mac download sites.

    Joke? "If it is thinkfree, why it is not free?"

    You would see thinkfree using people trying to explain what "think free" means endlessly.

    I hope it finally ended... Oh wait, the downloadable version! OK, not giving further clue.
  • I could just see Al (David) Hedison's head on the fly's body, his voice squealing, "Heo-yope meeeee..."
  • you inform me of a truly useful and intresting website, and before i can even blick 2ce the site is slashdotted, and theres not even a link to it in the article!
  • Ummm (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    A lot of people are grumbling about the fact that this is an internet based service. Why couldn't this be run on a corporate intranet instead?
  • by dpbsmith (263124) on Tuesday April 25, 2006 @08:42AM (#15195800) Homepage
    I was about to try a quick "reality check" test, namely seeing whether ThinkFree could properly render and edit the actual Microsoft Word document I am actually working on right now. Not a deliberate stress test, nothing very fancy, no equations, but, yes, some style sheets, some tables that would lose all usefulness if not rendered with reasonably high fidelity (including some shaded in boxes, some split and merged cells), and quite a few strategically placed manual page breaks, so the document will be more or less ruined if font metrics and margin settings aren't handled accurately.

    The site says it's "unavailable from 3 a.m. to 7 a.m. on April 25th."

    Well, it just so happen I need to do some work on this document soon. (Actually, of course, I should be working on it right now instead of reading Slashdot).

    Guess what? Microsoft Word is available from 3 a.m. to 7 a.m. on April 25th.
  • Two or three years ago, when powerpoint files were sometimes hard to decrypt on macintoshes without MS software, I tried almost everything available around, and concluded that the Thinkfree Office of that time, a downloadable, paying, set of java scripts, was the best around.

    I enjoyed it for more than one year before Apple's Pages appeared and was faster and as good.

    Is it still the same ThinkFree Office? They don't have a downloadable version anymore?
    (my old one still works well here)

    Hervé
  • by Daredevil73 (753233) on Tuesday April 25, 2006 @08:45AM (#15195809)
    IANAL but speaking from a US centric view, any piece of information thats hosted on servers not within your personal control, is much more easily accessed by the government than documents on your own personal hard drives. The standard for personal search and seizure is much much higher than for a corporation. Recently lets take a look at Google and AT&T. Google handed over some personal information after mounting a defense, but they still handed it over. AT&T is just dumping all internet traffic to the government so get favorable treatment elsewhere. The more I hear the less like about these online services having so much personal info. I won't be using more than I absolutely need to.
    • Speaking as a non US person, and perhaps donning my tinfoil hat, why would any foreign company wish to place their data within reach of US companies / governments? The US government has already been 'smacked' (or flogged with a wet tissue) over spying on foreign nationals, and turning information gleaned over to domestic companies.
  • Getting things done at work is hard enough when the email or internet connection goes down, but there is still a lot we can do because we can use Office. However, if we did not have Office, but were relying on ThinkFree instead, whenever we (or ThinkFree) had network problems, we would be completely crippled. Now, it may seem like a good thing not to have any work to do, but sitting around for 8 hours doing busy work is mind-numbingly boring. ThinkFree was down for several days, and I'm sure with it being p

  • vim and tex (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Meh, give me vim and tex anyday (and yes, I used to use Emacs, whatever). It doesn't take me long to install, or much space to store my documents as gzipped .tex files. I've also got a wonderful little script (aterm -title micro_word -e sh -c "antiword \"$1\" | vi -") to execute on .doc files from within a browser.
    I'm aware that there are non-geeks out there. My mom uses Word. My mom's net connection is also often flakey... what a dumb idea. Microsoft could pack it in someday, but, to be honest, this won't

  • It's Office without the macros, without the plugins, without the Exchange integration, without the underpinnings of COM. It's basically Office without the selling point. If I wanted a spreadsheet to be literally just a grid with formulae, life would be so easy. I don't, of course; I want it to reference other sheets, to populate itself with data from the database, to have the occasional button that makes stuff happen elsewhere on the sheet, to host third party libraries or controls, to do the stuff that
  • by suv4x4 (956391) on Tuesday April 25, 2006 @09:33AM (#15196042)
    a collection of free online apps that support and contain most features found in Word, PowerPoint, and Excel

    That's why reviews shouldn't be made by people who can't find the differences between WordPad and Word to save their life.
  • Hosting your own (Score:3, Informative)

    by The Bastard (25271) on Tuesday April 25, 2006 @09:53AM (#15196159)
    Looks like many comments regarding Internet accessability, ownership on someone else's servers, etc may be void. ThinkFree has both stand-alone desktop [thinkfree.com] and internal server [thinkfree.com] products. Pop this puppy on your own servers for intranet or VPN access.

    Hosted, or with the option of implementing my own server. Hmmm...A Web 2.0 company doing it right.

  • Availability (Score:2, Interesting)

    by sgt scrub (869860)
    I would like to know if the server software is available for others. It is only practicle if the site is up all of the time. "High availability" means a lot when it comes to documents and business. Regardless, this sounds like one of the coffin nails I've been searching for.
  • For sum reason SUMPRODUCT() doesn't seem to work, e.g: SUMPRODUCT((A1:A10=B1:B10)*10) in excel would give the number of matches in the range A1:B10 (i.e: A1=B1, A2=B2, etc) and multiply them buy 10 - thinkFree just gives #VALUE!
  • by rewinn (647614) on Tuesday April 25, 2006 @11:31AM (#15197091) Homepage

    We already have a pretty good idea what happens when a web-based technology competes with its desktop equivalent: email.

    Yahoomail, gmail, et cetera compete with Microsoft Outlook & that ilk. Both types of email flourish, Fill-In-Your-Reasons-Here, each stealing some market from the other but also expanding the market.

    Why would not a similar situation obtain with wordprocessings?

    • There are a fair few doom laden messages here today that have ignored this slaient fact. I now use gmail and yahoo together for email and calendar - I did experiment with evolution but in the end, the benefits of email from anywhere without thinking about it or remembering to sync, copy, backup or whatever is just great.

      I use a wiki to do work in a similar fashion as this thinkfree business. I get wysiwig layout, great searchability and output to pdf whenever I need an emailable copy. Is is down much? The o

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