What To Do If Your Competitor Has 95% of the Market
IBM has tried to compete with Microsoft before, most notably with its OS/2 operating system and the Lotus SmartSuite office suite. This week's introduction was different even though some observers (myself included) had a sense of déjà vu given Lotus' 1985 launch of a similar product with the Symphony name. (Lotus Symphony, an MS-DOS-based integrated suite that combined word processing, spreadsheet, business graphics, data management, and communications capabilities. Lotus Jazz was its Apple Macintosh sibling.)Free office productivity software is nothing new. Indeed, Lotus Symphony is based on open-source software developed by a consortium known as OpenOffice.org, whose code goes back to Star Division, a German company that was giving away Star Office, which included a word processor, database application, drawing software, an e-mail client, and a spreadsheet, available in seven languages and for the Windows, Macintosh, OS/2, Linux, and Sun Solaris operating system.
Sun Microsystems, which purchased Star Division in 1999, and Google, already offer free desktop productivity tools based on OpenOffice.
Lotus Symphony, ca. 2007, is not just for processing words and crunching numbers. The new offering supports OpenDocument Format, or ODF, which is based on XML, a protocol that enables information exchange between computers. Using ODF, Basex could publish reports that update automatically by being linked to databases that we would keep current.
Microsoft also supports XML, but via its own document format, Office Open XML. Regular readers will recall that, earlier this month, Microsoft's bid to have Open Office XML ratified as a standard by ISO failed. The OpenDocument Format , the one backed by IBM, Google, Sun, among others, was approved by the ISO in 2006.
Let the music begin.
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