One of the best free alternatives to Microsoft Office is the Office Web Apps from Microsoft itself. You can create, access and edit files using the cloud apps designed for word processing, spreadsheets and presentations. Among other alternatives to Microsoft Office is ThinkFree Office. You can use ThinkFree Office without installing anything on your computer. You can also use ThinkFree Cloud to save the files you create using ThinkFree Office. This review of ThinkFree Office checks out how it fares when it comes to features and ease of use.
ThinkFree Office Review
ThinkFree Office Features As Shown On Their Website
When you sign up for ThinkFree Office, you will get 1GB of cloud space for free. You can use this space to store your files online. You can also use this space to sync your local office documents to the cloud.
ThinkFree offers you a multi-platform syncing tool called ThinkFree Power tool – something similar to the SkyDrive Desktop. This tool allows you to select and sync files between the ThinkFree cloud and your computer.
Since ThinkFree provides you with online applications to create and work with documents, spreadsheets and presentations, you need not install Microsoft Office or similar programs on your computer.
There are mobile versions for ThinkFree Office too. You can use it from Android, iOS and Windows Phone. The ThinkFree Office app for mobile is available on Google Play.
ThinkFree Online vs ThinkFree Office
When you go to their home page, ThinkFree shows you four options under ThinkFree Product Line that may confuse you. The drop down list towards the right of ThinkFree home page shows ThinkFree Office and ThinkFree Online. The former – ThinkFree Office – option brings up a page that gives you option to download the trial desktop version of ThinkFree. The second option saying ThinkFree Online is what you will really need as this is the option that enables you to create a free account and get 1GB of free storage. We will refer to this option as ThinkFree Online Office henceforth.
ThinkFree Online Office – Dashboard User Interface
When you sign into your ThinkFree Online account, you will see an interface that looks like a mix of Windows Live Workspaces and Google Docs. In the top-left corner of left panel, you get options to create New Folder, document, presentation, spreadsheet and notes (HTML files).
Next to New option is the option to upload files. You can upload directly to the root folder or to any custom folder that you create using the New option. The interface to upload files is simple and easy to understand. It presents two tabs – one for uploading multiple files and the other for uploading single files.
The right pane also gives you links to create documents, spreadsheets, presentations, HTML notes and to upload files. You will not get any option/link in the right pane to create folders possibly because it is meant to show you the contents of the folders you select in the left pane.
Among other options are: Move, Copy, Delete, Rename, Share, Tag, Publish and Twitter. These can be applied to entire folders at a time by selecting them in the left panel. The same options are also available for each file in the right panel.
The Share option lets you enter emails of people with whom you wish to share the files. Two columns are available under this option: one is for editing rights and one is read only sharing.
The Publish option provides a URL to the file on the cloud so that you can share it with others. When you share using the URL, they can see file contents in a browser window that is read-only. Editing is not possible with links. To let others edit your files, use the Share option and enter their email ID under Edit column.
Note: You will need Shockwave Flash and Java to use the upload and editing features of ThinkFree Online Office.
ThinkFree Online Apps – User Interface
The first problem I encountered here was the need to install Java. Somehow, I feel Chrome does not handle Java based applications properly so I had to switch to Internet Explorer 9. This can be my personal experience and yours may differ.
The other problem was speed of opening documents. For testing, I uploaded a four page Word document and it took around 5 minutes to open it completely and to present me with the editing controls.
However, once the editors loaded my document, I knew how to go ahead and edit the document. The interface is wonderful and replicates the look of Office 2003. No one should have any problem in editing documents (.doc, .docx, .txt), presentations (ppt, pptx) and spreadsheets (xls and xlsx documents). The file extensions mentioned here were tested by me and the ThinkFree Online Editors were good at rendering the files while providing for easy editing. As you can see in the image below, ThinkFree Online Document Editor has everything you would need to create a good document complete with links and images.
ThinkFree Online Search Feature
ThinkFree Online Office allows you to search files based on either filenames or using tags. You can search files easily using the main dashboard. The search bar is present towards the top right of right pane that shows file list per folder. Tag option is available in the left pane.
Additional Features Of ThinkFree Online Office
- You can create up to three projects for collaborating with others. Use Workspace option available in the topmost bar to create a new project.
- Each workspace can have any number of files.
- For each project, you can avail 100 MB of storage space (in addition to the lifetime 1GB you get while registration). This means you can avail max 300 MB space above the 1GB for sharing and collaboration on projects.
- If you invite people for collaboration using email IDs, they will receive notifications each time a file is updated or changed.
Overall, ThinkFree Online Office is a good set of tools to create, share, edit and manage files. The cloud apps for editing your files are better when compared to some other alternatives of Microsoft Office such as LibreOffice or KingSoft Office Suite.
Let us know if you have anything else to add to this review of ThinkFree Office.