We recently published a story about InstallFree Nexus with LibreOffice a few day ago. We reached out to the team to understand the goal behind the product. Here is an interview with Alon Yaffe, Director of Marketing, InstallFree.
Swapnil: What is the goal of InstallFree LibreOffice? What was the need of InstallFree?
Alon: During the last 18 months we were seeing a major trend where the typical user computing environment was no longer about having a single PC or Mac with documents stored on a local hard drive. It’s increasingly becoming about putting your stuff in the cloud and accessing it from any device — be it iPad, Android, Chromebook, PC, Mac, Linux, etc.
The main problem with this is that the productivity apps that most people use haven’t yet made the switch to cloud services. So, essentially, it’s the apps that are preventing most people from fully transitioning to the cloud. And so the goal of the InstallFree Nexus platform is to solve this problem by providing access to popular productivity applications from any device with a web browser.
LibreOffice is one example of such application, but it is not the only application we are targeting for this platform. We already have support Microsoft Office, Adobe Reader and a few other productivity applications, and we are working closely with additional software vendors to bring more applications to the service.
The nice thing about LibreOffice is that it is open-source software and doesn’t carry a licensing fee, which makes it possible for us to provide it to the community as a free service.
Swapnil: Users often complain about losing formatting when convert docs from LO to Google. How does InstallFree solve that problem?
Alon: We solve this problem by allowing users to continue using the applications they used to create their documents in the first place, while at the same time making it possible to work with the documents in the cloud from any device. The point is to allow users to adopt cloud services faster by removing typical barriers such document compatibility. It’s about enabling mobility and flexibility without losing functionality.
Swapnil: Can you tell us about the user-base of InstallFree?
Alon: The InstallFree Nexus platform is currently in what we like to describe as a “quiet public beta”, and is actively being used by tens of thousands of users. We expect this number to dramatically increase after our public launch later this summer.
Swapnil: When was the company formed, can you tell us more about the company?
Alon: InstallFree was founded in 2006 with the goal of reducing the cost and complexity of application delivery in enterprise environments. To achieve this, we developed an application layering and virtualization technology that made it easier for our customers to deploy applications to Windows endpoints (PCs, Terminal Servers, Virtual Desktops, etc.). Last year, we decided to leverage the core technology to develop the Nexus platform, which now enables us to provide a complete solution for app access in the cloud, without requiring any software installations on the endpoint. Our executive team is comprised of experts in Windows environments and Cloud services with more than 30 years of experience.
Swapnil: What is your revenue generation model, who is funding the project?
Alon: InstallFree is currently venture funded. Our revenue generation model is based on a combination of service subscriptions, software licenses and other initiatives that will be announced at a later date.
Swapnil: What are your future plans?
Alon: Our short term focus is on launching Nexus publicly later this summer. We are planning to add new productivity applications to the service and expand our infrastructure to additional regions (we currently support countries in North America and Western Europe).
Swapnil: Are you working with The Document Foundation and Google or it is totally independent?
Alon: We are an independent company, but are collaborating with companies with which we integrate our services. We were one of the first software companies to provide a seamlessly integrated Google Drive app in the Chrome Web Store shortly after its launch.
Swapnil: How does InstallFree LibreOffice works?
Alon: The LibreOffice Windows applications are encapsulated (virtualized) on our servers so that they are immediately available for execution without being physically installed. When a user connects to InstallFree Nexus, we spin up a secure session for the user, execute the application and then use our HTML-based remoting technology to present the application’s UI to the user’s browser, as well as capture keyboard, mouse and touch inputs back to the application.
Swapnil: Which version of LO are you using and how can a user ensure he is using the latest version of LO in InstallFree?
Alon: Users always get the version that’s deployed on our servers (currently 126.96.36.199). When we deploy a newer version of LibreOffice to our servers all of our users will automatically get that version the next time they connect to the service.
Swapnil: Any plans to offer offline support for Chromebook devices as I think one needs internet connection to use InstallFree?
Alon: Since the applications we use on InstallFree Nexus are Windows-based and run on our servers, we cannot execute them directly on the endpoint. That being said, we are looking at ways to offer at least some level of offline capability in the future.