IBM is challenging Microsoft with a game of "anything you can do I can do." Its new Lotus Symphony office suite -- now available as a public beta -- does much of what the $400 Standard edition of Microsoft Office does, only at a much better price: It's free.
Comprised of three applications -- a word processor (Lotus Symphony Documents), a spreadsheet (Lotus Symphony Spreadsheets), and a presentation creator (Lotus Symphony Presentations) -- Symphony supports both Windows (XP, Vista, 2000) and Linux operating systems. (IBM says a version for the Mac OS is coming, but it hasn't said when.) Each app can open and save in a variety of file formats, including Office (2003/XP/97; not 2007) and ODF (Open Document Format), as well as save files as PDFs.