Cloud // Cloud Storage
News
12/4/2008
12:18 PM
Connect Directly
Google+
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Review: Open-Source Office Suites Compared

In search of an alternative to Microsoft Office, we test OpenOffice.org, StarOffice from Sun, IBM's Lotus Symphony, KOffice for Linux, and AbiWord.

Lotus Symphony 1.2
IBM Corporation
Lotus Symphony

Also derived from the OpenOffice.org codebase, but to very different ends, IBM Lotus Symphony was recently introduced as a rejuvenation of the Lotus Symphony brand name. It's much less broad than OpenOffice.org itself -- there's only three major applications in the suite -- but there's also been that much more attention paid to each individual app. The whole suite also has a bit more polish and finesse to it, possibly because the range of applications is that much narrower to begin with.




IBM Lotus Symphony has only three major apps, but the whole suite has some polish and finesse.
(click for image gallery)

Symphony's three apps are a pretty good reflection of what most people do with an office suite: write documents, create spreadsheets, and assemble presentations. This doesn't mean other additions to the suite won't follow later on, though, and the suite checks automatically for new components or upgrades to existing ones. Converts from Office 2007 should be warned that OOXML is not supported out of the box, and right now there doesn't appear to be a plugin that supports it.

As with the KOffice suite, the individual apps all run within a tabbed interface. IBM's replaced the default OpenOffice.org icons and tools with a much nicer, more polished set of elements, including a set of dockable side panels for text properties that doesn't show up in the original program. That said, within each program, the feature mix is almost exactly the same as OpenOffice itself.

Sometimes that means features I could live without: the word-completion feature, enabled by default, is one of the first things I turned off.

IBM's clearly intended Symphony to be a starting point and a framework for further development, both in synchrony with OpenOffice and apart from it. One good example of this is the plugins available for Symphony -- they're patterned after the plugin system in OpenOffice.org as well, but the available plugins are entirely different and it doesn't appear that plugins from OpenOffice.org can be used in Symphony or vice versa. There also aren't as many plugins available for Symphony but a few of them look truly useful, such as one that exports presentations to standalone Flash files.

Previous
4 of 5
Next
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Google in the Enterprise Survey
Google in the Enterprise Survey
There's no doubt Google has made headway into businesses: Just 28 percent discourage or ban use of its productivity ­products, and 69 percent cite Google Apps' good or excellent ­mobility. But progress could still stall: 59 percent of nonusers ­distrust the security of Google's cloud. Its data privacy is an open question, and 37 percent worry about integration.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
InformationWeek Tech Digest September 18, 2014
Enterprise social network success starts and ends with integration. Here's how to finally make collaboration click.
Flash Poll
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
InformationWeek Radio
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.