IBM offers free office software in challenge to Microsoft
IBM has introduced a suite of free software applications for
creating and sharing documents, spreadsheets and presentations
called IBM Lotus Symphony in a new challenge to Microsoft's
ubiquitous Office suite. The new suite of enterprise-grade office
productivity tools will support Windows and Linux desktops and, according to IBM, can handle a majority of office productivity tasks that workers typically perform.
Lotus Symphony makes use of many of the same tools incorporated in IBM's
collaboration products. It supports multiple file formats, including Microsoft Office and Open Document Format (ODF), and also can output content in PDF format. The package can be downloaded free of charge at http://www.ibm.com/software/lotus/symphony. IBM will also give away the
Symphony software to customers who buy the latest version of its
Notes collaboration software, which costs $145 per user.
Analysts suggest IBM's latest move is aimed primarily at
boosting visibility of its Notes software, which provides an e-mail
and instant messaging alternative to Microsoft's Outlook e-mail
software. But with growing momentum worldwide in support of open
interoperable software standards, Symphony also represents
IBM's latest efforts in gaining attention for products that
utilize Open Document Format standards, which can be read and
processed by multiple software applications.
Last week, IBM announced it would join OpenOffice.org, which
offers software alternatives to Microsoft Office that can be
downloaded at no charge. Symphony won't be available at that site,
according to IBM. But officials said it would offer Open Office
code developed by IBM engineers that makes it easier to use by
people with limited vision.
While consumers may find the price of Lotus Symphony hard to
resist, enterprise users especially in government, where security
issues remain a long-standing concern, aren't expected to
abandon Microsoft's tools anytime soon. Microsoft reported it
has already sold more than 71 million licenses of its latest version of
Office in the fiscal year ended June 30.