Free Thinking on the Web

Steve Hamm

T.J. Kang, the CEO of ThinkFree Inc., is a never-say-die sort of guy. Ever since 1983 he has been building desktop productivity applications as an alternative to Microsoft's dominant Office franchise. He hasn't tasted much success, but still he keeps trying. His latest effort is an Office-compatible set of applications based on Web 2.0 technologies that's due out in April. "I truly believe there needs to be an alternative to Microsoft," says the 45-year-old Korean-Canadian entrepreneur. "If you think it's futile, you lose heart and run out of steam. But I haven't lost heart." There are now more than half a dozen Office-killer ;-) online services out there, and Google caused a ripple of excitement when it bought one of them, Writely, a week ago, so it seems like we're once again at a crossroads. Will these new alternatives to Office take off? Or will they, like others before them, limp off into technology oblivion? I'm not betting on ThinkFree to succeed, but I'm going to try it out on my home machine.

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