Like Sun, a San Jose-based company called ThinkFree is offering a pair of Microsoft Office clones. The standalone Desktop version costs $49.95, and an Online version is free. Each includes a word processor, a spreadsheet program, and a decent, if rather slow, presentation program called ThinkFree Show.
ThinkFree Show Limitations
No doubt because of its price--or lack thereof--the Online version will be the more popular. Once you sign up for this service, you're able to create slideshows in one of two modes: Power Edit or Quick Edit. The Quick Edit option uses a simple Ajax architecture that doesn't require downloading and using a Java Virtual Machine; however, it greatly limits your design capabilities. Only the most basic type of slideshow is possible.
Like PowerPoint, but with Google Ads
In contrast, ThinkFree Show's Power Edit mode is based on Java and looks remarkably like PowerPoint 2003, with two notable exceptions. First, a vertical column of Google ads runs down the right side of the screen. Second, because the program uses Java, it's not extremely fast. Simple actions such as saving a file took remarkably long to complete. Also, while animation and transition effects are available, their motion was decidedly jerky and are therefore best avoided.
All ThinkFree Show Online presentations are stored online in a free 1GB storage area. As a result, sharing a finished presentation with other Web users is remarkably easy. Despite its quirks, this product does meet some needs. If you're looking for a free online presentation program, ThinkFree Show deserves your attention.
More PowerPoint Alternatives
Apple iWork '08 Keynote
Google Docs Presentations
OpenOffice.org Impress/Sun StarOffice