GCN Lab Review: IBM Lotus Symphony 1.1


IBM CREATED Lotus Symphony 1.1 as a free alternative to other
popular office suites, and for the most part, the company succeeded
in making a good program. Symphony can go toe-to-toe with its more
costly competition most of the time, but there are times when it
doesn't quite have the power to do what is needed.

Symphony starts you off with a Home screen, in which you can
start a new Symphony Document, Symphony Spreadsheet, or Symphony
Presentation file or open an existing one. Each file you open
becomes a tab in the suite's program window. There is no way
to access one of the component programs except through this
introductory screen. This makes it easy to open new files without
having to access the programs menu of the operating system, but it
also takes away some of the flexibility that some users might be
used to.


We found each of the components to be easy to use and fully
compatible with the OpenDocument Format and corresponding Microsoft
Office 2003 format. We were able to open them, make changes, and
save as the appropriate Microsoft Office file type with no loss of

Unfortunately, when we tried to open an exceptionally large
' 11.5M ' Excel file, Symphony balked and closed every
tab except the Home tab. Yes, the file was large, but not outside
of the realm of possibility for users dealing with financial or
scheduling information. Symphony was never able to open the large

Although Symphony does not have any programs beyond the three
basic components, it does contain its own Web browser, which lets
you open a Web page as a tab within the Symphony program. Also,
when there gets to be too many tabs across the top, Symphony offers
the option to look at them as thumbnails. This can be usefel when
you have many files open with similar names or the tabs have
compressed to the point you can't read them.

We were also pleased to note that Lotus Symphony has support for
many versions of Linux in addition to Windows. As more
organizations adopt Linux, finding an office productivity suite
that can support it is becoming important.

IBM offers downloads of the full version of Lotus Symphony 1.1
for free. There might not be any such thing as a free lunch, but we
have found there certainly is such a thing as a free full-featured
office suite.

IBM, 888-746-7426, www.ibm.com

About the Author

Greg Crowe is a former GCN staff writer who covered mobile technology.

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