Wednesday, 19 September 2007 02:58

IBM offers free office suite

IBM has revived the Lotus Symphony brand, applying it this time to its OpenOffice-derived word processor, spreadsheet and presentation programs.

Previously offered as part of Lotus Notes 8, Lotus Symphony Documents, Spreadsheets and Presentations for Windows and Linux are now available separately and at no charge. A Mac OS X release is planned.

IBM officials stressed Lotus Symphony's support for the Open Document Format (ODF). "The lifeblood of any organization is contained in thousands of documents. With the Open Document Format, businesses can unlock their information, making it universally accessible on any platform and on the Web in highly flexible ways," said Steve Mills, senior vice president and group executive of IBM's software group.

The software also handles traditional Microsoft Office file formats (but not the Office Open XML files produced by Office 2007), however neither macros nor encrypted documents are interchangeable between Office and Lotus Symphony.

IBM is also emphasising Lotus Symphony's ability to draw in data from multiple sources, giving the example of a user submitting a query to an ERP system and having the results automatically populate fields in a document.

Lotus Symphony contains multiple language support and accessibility features currently missing from OpenOffice, but as IBM joined last week, the two versions are likely to converge.

The software is supported on Windows XP and Vista, and on Suse Linux Enterprise Desktop 10 and Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5. It may be downloaded here.

IBM's previous attempt at an office suite was Lotus SmartSuite. Despite being widely distributed at low cost, including as an OEM product on some PCs, it failed to make much impact on the general market.

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Stephen Withers

Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.

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