A first look at IBM's Symphony office suite

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.

Download: Symphony office suite (free)
View: The full story
News source: InfoWorld

Report a problem with article
Previous Story

Microsoft's Social Events Planning Service Goes Live

Next Story

Asustek: Eee PC price no lower than US$200

27 Comments

Commenting is disabled on this article.

this looked decent, butt doesnt give Openoffice a run for their money, and doesnt at all stack up to Office 2007. im not a big fan of opensource office applications, that why i think my dirt cheap office 2007 professional is so much better

True. I tried it out for a bit and although I like the interface the Word Processor is barely passable, the spreadsheet seems anaemic and the presentation software is a joke. If you're looking for a free suite OpenOffice is a much better alternative.

It's funny how people that must use this are saying that they don't want to have anything to do with it...

Hmmmm... coincidence?

IBM is challenging Microsoft with a game of "anything you can do I can do."

I thought the old saying was supposed to be: "Anything you can do I can do better."

Way to go IBM.

You used to have 1-2-3 and Ami Pro, which by the way, was better than Excel & Word, and the main reason you bought Lotus. But you simply let them rot in software hell, just like OS/2 and anything you lay your filthy hands on on the PC platform.

Now you want to create another doomed suite. Let's see how long you plan to screw around with some idiotic PC users this time.

No one ever talks about Wordperfect. :P

Open Office is pretty good for $0. IBM's going to have to make a serious effort with it's office suite if it wants to compete.

I'm in the unfortunate position of having to use Lotus Notes for email at work, and I can safely say as long as this suite has 'Lotus' in the name, a lot of people are going to be put off.

Here are some screenshots -

Documents
http://symphony.lotus.com/software/lotus/s...uct_ss_wpe.jspa

Spreadsheets
http://symphony.lotus.com/software/lotus/s...uct_ss_sse.jspa

Presentations
http://symphony.lotus.com/software/lotus/s...duct_ss_pe.jspa

I may try it, but I get Office for dirt cheap here at the school, so I don't really think I need this. I may actually try putting it on my girlfriend's computer since she doesn't have it. It seems this can open .doc files too so I'm in.

Sad. Right now there are 350,000 IBM employees plotting how to prevent their employer from updating their Windows+Office computers to Linux+Symphony. They'll also still get stuck using the universally-despised Lotus Notes (known internally as either "Bloats" or "Boats"). And I'll bet that the "presentation" software is still based on Freelance, whose code quality was worse than virus-laden 3rd-world freeware (oh, wait, this is freeware too).
Nevermind that IBM's own customers still won’t be able to view email in standard HTML or read documents they receive from IBM sales people.
The idea of an IBM office suite has surfaced before... first to bolster OS/2 adoption (hopeless, given it's horrible code quality) when a string of golden boys running the software division finagled a few bucks to play out their one idea (and, as is typical of IBM, masterfully bailing out of the division just before the big eye of IBM finally looked at the books). Literally a billion dollars of development funds were wasted, along with the careers of numerous IBM employees trying to do the right thing for their company. Worse, IBM never had the internal commitment nor the development/marketing/sales/support/channel infrastructure to support an office suite (much less a PC operating system). Nothing has changed now.
Notice that there isn't any tech support for Symphony. There also isn't any profit to the IBM development organization producing this. How long does anybody think IBM will bleed development money with zero profit just to make a political statement? Why would any corporate user even consider using this?
IBM must have hired Howard Dean to preach its strategy of "Anything not Microsoft, no matter how crappy it is". That kind of strategy sure worked great with John Kerry... this will disappear off the face of the earth even more quickly.

bluarash said,
Thank you for sharing your political views with us.

How is it political to question the underlying motives to the move - and the long term merits of such a policy. You may scream policy, I say its questing a policy that doesn't seem to have any logic attached to it.

For me, if IBM want to get people on board; take the Microsoft approach; allow those companies which use Notes 8 at work, allow the end users to take it home and install in on their own home computer for free.

exIBM said,
Nevermind that IBM's own customers still won’t be able to view email in standard HTML or read documents they receive from IBM sales people.
Notice that there isn't any tech support for Symphony. There also isn't any profit to the IBM development organization producing this. How long does anybody think IBM will bleed development money with zero profit just to make a political statement? Why would any corporate user even consider using this?
IBM must have hired Howard Dean to preach its strategy of "Anything not Microsoft, no matter how crappy it is". That kind of strategy sure worked great with John Kerry... this will disappear off the face of the earth even more quickly.

are you kidding? notes is able to view html emails since version 5 i believe..

there is support for symphony, take a look at this page http://symphony.lotus.com/software/lotus/s...arch_type=forum

Symphony is based on open office, so imo is dumb to say open office is better than this, is exactly the same.

i know IBM had a hard time focusing on the user experience, but its not a fair to have Exchange/Outlook Vs Domino/Notes, Notes is not only an email platform just like the MS solution, is much more than that. thats why the Notes Client does not look like Outlook....

Although on notes 8 , the user will have a total different experience.

just my opinion.

What the hell is a "Rock Lee"? Didn't you ever use any products from Mitch Kapor's Lotus software before IBM bought them out (Like 1-2-3 or Wordpro)? Lotus 1-2-3 is the main reason for the early popularity of the IBM PC and clones.

lbmouse said,
What the hell is a "Rock Lee"? Didn't you ever use any products from Mitch Kapor's Lotus software before IBM bought them out (Like 1-2-3 or Wordpro)? Lotus 1-2-3 is the main reason for the early popularity of the IBM PC and clones.
Here is "a" Rock Lee doing it's Lotus attack,...


Pip'

lbmouse said,
Didn't you ever use any products from Mitch Kapor's Lotus software before IBM bought them out (Like 1-2-3 or Wordpro)? Lotus 1-2-3 is the main reason for the early popularity of the IBM PC and clones.
Fear not ol' timer, I remember them well. AmiPro, along with cc:mail, for which, to my eternal shame, I was an administrator for. Then Notes came along and, well....

I'm going to have to try this out. Honestly it's sad to see a lot of home users purchasing MS Office, when all they se it for is Word documents Powerpoint slides and spreadsheets, heck i'll even toss in Email. I always do my best to inform people about Oopen Office and what it can do, saving them lots of money.

Perhaps i should go evangelical christian like and start waving a OO CD with a mic on my hand while standing at a busy city intersection preaching to people.

Microsoft actually knows their markets pretty well. This is why you can get the Home Office Edition for $150, Works is free with ads and college students can get the Ultimate Edition for $59.

Still, for what it is worth, I tried this out about a month ago and it is not bad. It has a better interface than Open Office but retains most of the key features. It is worth taking for a spin.