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Review: ThinkFree Office Suite Attracts Users -- And Google

Whenever rumors start circulating that Google is interested in another online application, it's tempting to try that application out and see how well it ticks. In the case of ThinkFree, an online office suite that the rumor mill says Google is looking at, it ticks pretty well.

ThinkFree is a Java-based advertising-supported online office suite that includes three applications: a word processor (Write), a spreadsheet (Calc), and a presentation package (Show), along with a sprinkling of social-networking features. Unlike many Ajax apps, which have popped up over the last year or so, ThinkFree started its life back in 2000 as a traditional freeware application, eventually moving online.

Click image to enlarge.

Certainly one advantage ThinkFree has over many online apps is that it acts like a real suite rather than a group of separate features. The My Office page, which is the launch-point for users, centers on a list of all the user's ThinkFree documents (which kind of document is indicated by a colored icon); recently accessed documents are listed across the top. Down the left side is a status panel that displays information such as how much of your 1-Gbyte storage space you're using and the folders you have created to store your documents in.

ThinkFree is an advertising-supported service (and, like so many online apps, seems to be in a constant state of beta). There are text ads for sponsored links in a separate window on the right side; interestingly, the window can actually be dragged closed, hiding the ads from advertising-allergic users. However, by doing so, you also hide your comments box and tags, which is a clever way to offer users a choice.

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