Wednesday, November 07, 2007

IBM Lotus Sympony for Windows - the brand returns

Do any of you remember the original Lotus Symphony software package, circa 1984? It was originally released in back then as an integrated software application for DOS, which so many of the younger persons today are not even aware of. Now recently, IBM has revived the Symphony name for a new office suite (currently in Beta 2 stage) that is to be released free of charge.

If you want to get the free Windows Office software package, it is available here at the IBM Lotus Symphony web site, and it includes a word processor (IBM Lotus Symphony Documents), a presentation tool (IBM Lotus Symphony Presentations), and a spreadsheet program (IBM Lotus Symphony Spreadsheets). From the looks of it, the IBM Office software is quite similar to the OpenOffice suite (OpenOffice.Org), but lacks a database tool and vector-based drawing tool like OpenOffice offers.

What I find even more interesting is how IBM supposedly joined the community, just a week before announcing the early public release of this re-emerging Symphony branded office application. IBM will be contributing code to the OpenOffice project, but also taking code from it to use in its own office suite. What I don't understand is why IBM just couldn't focus entirely on making OpenOffice a better product instead of releasing yet another office suite that will no doubt end up being just a marginal player on the desktop, aside from their need to promote their own brand recognition, if even for free. I guess I can just hope that whatever IBM does decide to contribute back to the OpenOffice project is something useful and technology that will help OO better compete with Microsoft Office. From my experience, OO is pretty decent, but it has a long way to go to catch up to MS Office 2007, and I'm sure this new IBM Symphony application will fall into that same status without some serious investment on IBM's part.

Bottom line: if you are looking for a free desktop office productivity suite, perhaps the new IBM Symphony Office will be an option for you. Can't hurt to consider it.

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