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ThinkFree Office: Will Operating Systems Become Irrelevant? - page 5

Turning Applications Into Web Services

  • March 9, 2000
  • By William Wong

Performance was a major issue. This has been a general complaint with Java, but considering the amount of on-screen formatting being done, Java does a very good job. Improvements in the application and the use of the newer Java Virtual Machines should give enough of a boost that operation on a 350 MHz Pentium II should be reasonable.

ThinkFree's offering is one of the more accessible. It works with almost any platform and operates both online and offline. The filing system takes into account the type of connection, but there is a lack of the synchronization support that many laptop/desktop users already enjoy.

The major problem with ThinkFree's online storage is that it is only accessible using the Java Filer application. There is currently no HTML-based or FTP-based access available. Downloading the Java application to upload or download a couple hundred kilobytes seems like a bad time tradeoff.

Security is a big issue at least addressed by ThinkFree with its encryption support. It is unclear how sophisticated this support is, so it may pay to use strong encryption available with products like Network Associate's PGP despite the tradeoff in ease-of-use.

Interoperability and long-term viability of ThinkFree's applications will be an issue to those who must interact and exchange information with other people on a regular basis. ThinkFree's native file formats are proprietary. The performance of the filtering software is improving. but it will always be less than 100 percent complete. Long-term viability of the applications is based on ThinkFree's continued support and profitability. This market will eventually have some fallout, but things look good for the foreseeable future.

The bottom line is that ThinkFree's offering is compelling and worth investigating. For personal use, it is a viable option. For professional use, the price is a definite plus but it is too early to become dependent on such a service or application suite.

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