NOTE: there is a portable version of their presentation product just for the iPod.
I like the idea of Portable Apps, the fact that you are not just carrying around data or files, but the actual programs as well, just plug ‘n play. Since the office suite is portable you can use it on your friends PC without having to install anything, when your done your friends PC is none the wiser.
How handy is this if you are in an unfamiliar place and you have to give a presentation; in your pocket you have the program and the file to deliver in a flash without having to install anything, online versions are also handy for this scenario, but what if the net is not available.
I guess the closest competition is OpenOffice portable and it’s free, compared to ThinkFree Portable $50 license.
ThinkFree Viewer offers some web 2.0 fancies:
- Publisher (a link icon or embedded window for your blog post)
- Blog plug-in (when ever you link to an ThinkFree Online document and view icon will appear)
- Desktop Widgets
- Browser Extensions (right-click fun)
NOTE: MS Office file types can be opened and edited with ThinkFree
ThinkFree Docs is basically a shared Document Management Storage facility (not in the realm of Koral) for your online documents in web 2.0 fashion, similar to Scribd.
If you don’t use ThinkFree Online, you can upload your MSOfiice documents, webifying them.
Others players in the online office market are Google Apps, Zoho, Peepel, Zimbra, then there’s Preezo, Empressr, Thumbstacks, Slideshare, Slideburner, and a suite like ShareMethods…also see storage, access, and sharing solutions from Box…and what about egnyte.
Then there’s email, graphs, calendar, charts, drawings, diagrams, etc…but I have to stop somewhere.
So what do you get…you get a place on your keychain to store your online office documents plus a portable version of the programs, and the compatibility to edit MS Office documents.
As long as you have a PC, you will be able to knock up or access documents over coming any kind of technical barriers, I like the simplicity of plug ‘n play for us non-techie types.
I plugged in the USB stick and clicked on the drive, then launched the stick and was presented with a Start menu filled with a few portable programs, I chose ThinkFree and it loaded a new icon on my systems tray, from here I right-click to choose from Write, Calc (soon to incorporate Edit Grid), and Show.
Nothing much to say really except that I felt like I was using MSOffice, no really, it feels like a clone…and I suppose that’s a good thing. Since it’s so alike MSOffice, you feel at home, there’s no learning curve, I’m not a power user of any of these office products, but I could easily do all I can with MS…not sure what the unique features are from ThinkFree.
When I edited a file I could save it wherever I liked, when I saved it on my desktop, it opened in MSWord as an RTF file, when I saved it on the USB stick it opened in TFWrite.
The best thing to do when testing this product out is open a file that lives on your desktop from within ThinkFree, I opened a Powerpoint presentation within TFShow and there was no difference at all, very compatible…only thing I found missing in Show was the kiosk function of Powerpoint (using slides as a web of slides instead of a linear back and forward).
All in all, I like that there’s no learning curve, it works smooth, and that I can have data and the program to run it all in my pocket, and running it is as simple as plug ‘n play, no installing or technical know-how.
Products like OpenOffice and ThinkFree are great alternatives to MSOffice; they cost less, basically the same products, and seamless compatibility, plus portable editions, why wouldn’t you use these products instead. Perhaps they may not yet have the sophistication and experience of MSOffice, but if you have a smaller business and don’t need every advanced feature from these products, then they are a great choice…as I mentioned I’m sure they have unique features of their own.
TechCrunch has a post on ThinkFree taking this very seriously.