Thinkfree, available from, provides a free suite of Java based MS Office compatible applications. They describe their suite as the only one that was fully designed with the intention of being compatible with MS Word, MS Excel and MS PowerPoint.

After registering for an account, ThinkFree will provide 1 GB of storage space and an interface for creating, uploading, editing and sharing documents.

After the document is loaded into the Java application the interface will be very familiar– if you are an existing MS Office user. The document can be changed and stored back onto private space on the web and privileges set for collaboration.

There are two levels of document sharing – co-authors and viewers – and these are defined when invitations are sent via eMail for collaboration. Viewers have ‘read-only’ rights, whereas co-authors have full rights to make and circulate changes. Documents can also be published to blogs and converted to PDF as a final product.

ThinkFree also has a free offline Office. This runs without the need for an internet connection on a desktop and is compatible with Windows, Mac, Linux and other platforms for which there is a Java Standard Edition runtime. With an internet connection an offline version of a user’s web file management console can be opened and used to open documents and activate sharing… a bit of an anomaly, an offline tool which requires an internet connect for information. The offline version can be used as the default application for working with documents, in place of MS Office, although the load time for the applications is much slower. (This is just an aside as Open Office would be a more robust free office system).

ThinkFree also provides free solutions for document collaboration via the iPhone and iTouch. At the time of writing, other projects exist to port this functionality to other mobile devices such as the Blackberry.