IBM composes new Office rival with Lotus Symphony suite

Free apps use OpenOffice.org's technology; rollout comes a week after IBM joined group

IBM said last week that it plans to dedicate a core team of 35 of its developers in China to the OpenOffice.org project, and augment them with other resources as needed. In an interview today, Sean Poulley, vice president of business and strategy at the company's Lotus Software division, confirmed that IBM intends to shake things up within the open-source group.

"By virtue of our joining, OpenOffice.org becomes a lot less Sun-dominated," Poulley said. "We bring our credibility and prowess in enterprise software, which has less been the forte of Sun." IBM will "work within the leadership structure that exists," he added. "But we will take our rightful leadership position in the community along with Sun and others."

John McCreesh, marketing program lead for OpenOffice.org, said members of the group "welcome IBM's contributions to further enhancing the OpenOffice.org product. But equally important is IBM's future commitment to package and distribute new works that leverage OpenOffice.org technology supporting the ISO ODF standard."

Poulley said that going forward, users should expect OpenOffice.org's Web-based collaboration and communications capabilities to be significantly enhanced. "You can assume that we will bring our experience in the Notes business" to future development of the open-source suite, he noted.

Microsoft, which by most estimates continues to hold about 90% of the global office productivity software market, issued a statement saying that it has no plans to lower its Office 2007 prices in response to the release of Lotus Symphony.

"We are confident that by staying focused on what our customers ask for and what innovations are needed in a changing business landscape, the 2007 release of Microsoft Office will continue to be the software of choice," Jacob Jaffe, Microsoft's Office director, said as part of the statement.

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