ThinkFree office suite goes offline

Alternative to Microsoft Office launches offline support

ThinkFree added offline support to its online application suite Tuesday and launched it as a US$7-a-month alternative to Microsoft Office.

Touting ThinkFree Premium: Beta Edition as "the most Microsoft-compatible online/offline hybrid office suite," the Boston-based company said offline access to documents gives users the best of both worlds.

"The ability to access productivity tools from anywhere is key to being efficient and effective," said TJ Kang, ThinkFree's CEO, in a statement. "But it also needs to include the ability to travel with your laptop to unconnected environments. Premium Edition offers the best of both, the collaboration and anywhere access of the Internet with the speed, reliability and security of a desktop application."

ThinkFree started life as a desktop-only suite of pared-down applications -- the desktop edition remains available -- and then moved to an online model as a free suite of word processor, spreadsheet and presentation maker. Premium adds the ability to save documents either locally or online, as well as a synchronization tool that automatically updates the files stored on ThinkFree's servers when the user reconnects to the Internet.

Also new to Premium are a background save feature, a full-screen non-browser editor, the elimination of file size limitations and drag-and-drop file management.

ThinkFree Premium runs on Internet Explorer, Firefox and Safari browsers, and requires Windows, Mac OS X or Linux. Until August, the beta is free to use; starting that month, ThinkFree Premium will cost US$7 per month per user, with a 10 percent discount for yearly subscriptions.

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