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Office software firm ThinkFree gets backing

The company, which builds Web-based office software, receives a $16 million investment from Prism Ventures, and others.

LAS VEGAS--ThinkFree, a company building Web-based office software, has received a $16 million investment from Prism Ventures, and others.

The investment will be used to advance ThinkFree's efforts to rebuild itself as a company whose software is offered by other companies over the Web, ThinkFree said in a statement released Monday at the Comdex trade show. Under one such arrangement, McAfee will offer ThinkFree's word processor, spreadsheet and presentation graphics programs within McAfee's MobileOffice Web service.

ThinkFree's software is built out of Sun Microsystems' Java technology. Despite Sun's promise that Java programs will run on any Java-enabled computer, ThinkFree software currently works on Windows and Linux computers but not yet on Mac OS machines.

ThinkFree software can read and write documents in the format of Microsoft Office, the dominant office suite software package.

Meanwhile, Microsoft and its competitors have a Comdex 2000: Back to the future similar vision for turning their office software into a service available over the Web. Competitors include Sun Microsystems, with its open-source Star Office software, and VistaSource's Applix Anyware.

Other investors in ThinkFree's investment round include Tredegar Investments, Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America (TIAA), Formational Ventures, Juniper Capital Ventures in Singapore, CSK Venture Capital in Japan, and LG Venture Investment in Korea.

ThinkFree is based in Cupertino, Calif.