Sunday 22 April 2007

ThinkFree Portable Review

A few days ago I received a trial version of ThinkFree Portable office suite on a U3 USB drive to review, care of Ismael Ghalimi. Here are my immediate observations:

  • The interface is very friendly for users familiar with Microsoft Office (and more so than OpenOffice) and perhaps equally as important it was quick to load;
  • For this portable edition its a great match with a U3 USB drive as it makes it very easy to get up and running with ThinkFree Portable - however its unfortunate that the latest versions of Firefox and Thunderbird aren't available;
  • ThinkFree's compatibility with native Office files isn't 100% perfect, but particularly with PowerPoint files I would rate it better than OpenOffice; and
  • While it lacks the full functionality of macros and some other advanced features, I have to say that the streamlined and familiar interface made me want to use it.

Overall using ThinkFree so far has been a very positive experience.

Looking at the bottom line ThinkFree (both the desktop and portable versions) at US$49.95 works out locally at about AU$60. This is pretty good value when you consider that in Australia the basic Microsoft Office Standard 2007 suite for commercial users retails around AU$700. To get something for the same price you would need to look at something like Microsoft Works instead, however in Australia even the basic Works version retails at around AU$85.

Incidentally the online version of ThinkFree is free, but (and this is most likely a problem of distance and my broadband connection) I simply found launching the applications and the online file management a little slow to interact with. However, I was pleased to find out that they are also have in closed beta a premium edition that will include online and offline access to files.

Also worth checking out is the server-based edition - in fact I think this combined with offline access would be a great combination for larger organisatons. To top it off all I think they now need to add is some kind of records management functionality and it would be a perfect enterprise solution ;-)

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