IBM Goes After Office

Big Blue hopes to unseat some of Microsoft's dominance in the office application arena. Today in New York, it announced a suite of Office-like programs called IBM Lotus Symphony. There's just one major difference between Office and the new Symphony suite: Symphony is free.

The free Symphony apps will try to tune out Office heavy-hitters like Word, Excel and PowerPoint. These aren't brand new applications developed from the ground-up, though. The IBMers have joined forces with OpenOffice.org. While they've been working together informally for a while, IBM recently announced it was officially becoming part of the OpenOffice consortium. As part of that agreement, Big Blue will dispatch a team of coders to contribute on a regular basis.

IBM isn't the only one trying to grab a piece of the Office pie; Google also competes with Microsoft with its online Google Docs (which just recently unveiled a direct challenge to PowerPoint in the form of Google Presentations). Like Symphony, the Google online apps are based on the same, widely accepted open source format. The OpenDocument format, based on the easily shareable XML, is the secret sauce that could make this whole thing work. Google, Symphony and other open source users ought to easily be able to share documents.

To get anywhere in its efforts to steal a bit of Microsoft's thunder, Symphony will have to work with the Office applications, as will Google. What's that they say about keeping your friends close and your enemies closer?

Are you looking for an Office alternative? Do you already run OpenOffice, Google Docs or some other alternative to any of Microsoft's Office applications? If you do, I'd love to hear from you at llow@redmondmag.com.

Posted by Lafe Low on 09/19/2007 at 1:23 PM


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