IBM releases ODF-based Office killer

Official launch: Lotus Symphony suite to challenge Microsoft Office in the enterprise

IBM has officially launched the commercial version of its Lotus Symphony suite of productivity applications, and looks set amount a challenge to Microsoft Office in its enterprise heartland.

IBM's Lotus Symphony has been in beta since September last year, but according to Darren Adams, the Lotus messaging and collaboration business unit leader at IBM, the "Symphony editors" have been available for a couple of months now as part of Lotus Notes 8.01.

However, IBM has now updated these editors (word-processing, spreadsheet and presentation) and has commercially launched version 1.0 of Lotus Symphony suite as a stand-alone entity, that doesn't require Lotus Notes. Notes is currently in use by 46,000 companies worldwide, and there are 140 million user licences issued.

IBM is also offering businesses the ability of purchasing a unlimited helpdesk support contract (known as IBM Elite Support) for Lotus Symphony 1.0. This support contract is available for a flat fee of approximately US$25,000 covering 20,000 desktops (roughly $25 per user).

For businesses that don't feel the need for support, they can still use the software for free.

IBM's move is significant, as it places it in possible conflict with Microsoft Office in the enterprise, and also takes on the likes of Google Apps and collaboratively developed software such as OpenOffice.

"It is about giving customers choice," insists Adams. "The next time that companies are deciding what productivity suite to use, they have the choice to download Symphony and get support."

Lotus Symphony supports the OpenDocument format (ODF). Last month, Microsoft finally announced that it was adding support for ODF and Adobe PDF to its Office productivity suite. Redmond had created its own XML-based file format, OOXML (Office Open XML) for Office 2007, a move which had set into motion a heated rivalry between OOXML and ODF.

Lotus Symphony is based on the Open Office code (version 1.1), and indeed IBM is now part of the OpenOffice foundation, but according to Adams, IBM takes a modular approach to implementing new versions of OpenOffice. "We may update Symphony in parts where it makes sense to do so, and in order to be more agile."

IBM's Lotus Symphony is also currently compatible with Microsoft Office 2003, and support for Office 2007 is expected to begin in the Autumn.

IBM claims the product, available in 24 languages, has been downloaded by almost 1 million people during the beta program. It currently runs on Vista and XP, as well as a number of flavors of Linux, including SuSE and Red Hat.

Adams says that when Lotus Notes 8.5 is released sometime in the fourth quarter, we can expect to see Symphony on the Mac as well as Ubuntu.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Tom Jowitt

Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?