Download Duel: IBM Lotus Symphony V. OpenOffice - InformationWeek

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Commentary
9/20/2007
11:38 AM
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Download Duel: IBM Lotus Symphony V. OpenOffice

When I read about Lotus Symphony, IBM's spanking new free office suite, I was intrigued, and decided to try it out during my lunch hour. Unfortunately, that didn't happen. Why? Because it took most of that hour just to get through the registration process.

When I read about Lotus Symphony, IBM's spanking new free office suite, I was intrigued, and decided to try it out during my lunch hour. Unfortunately, that didn't happen. Why? Because it took most of that hour just to get through the registration process.Here's what to expect if you want to try Symphony.

  1. Go to IBM's download page. Click on the "Free Download" button.

  2. Choose which OS you use (Linux or Windows). Click on Continue.

  3. Sign in with your IBM ID and password. Don't have one? What a surprise! Click on "register now."

  4. First step: Type in an IBM ID (which has to be an e-mail address), password, security question and answer, e-mail address ("But my ID is my e-mail address! Oh, never mind."), and country/region of residence. Oh, yeah, and be sure to click the box that says, "Please do not associate my preference and interest with my identification information." If you want to, that is. Click on Continue.

  5. Second step: This time, you only have to fill in the fields indicated with an asterisk, which includes your first name, last name, daytime phone, company name ("But this is for personal use!" Too bad.), country/region, company street address (yes, yes, I know), and city. Click on Submit. Oops, "the information provided isn't valid." In other words, you forgot the state and zip (even though they weren't asterisked.) Click Submit.

  6. Phew! Thank you for registering with ibm.com. Click Continue.

  7. Sign in with your new IBM ID and Password. Click Submit.

  8. Okay, finally! Here's a page titled "IBM Lotus Symphony Beta." It's also got all your business contact information on it, a privacy warning (at which point, you can click a box to let them know whether you want info about IBM's offerings), and a license agreement. Click the box labeled "I agree" and then on "I confirm."

  9. Now you have two choices: You can download the suite using IBM's Download Director (a Java applet), or via your browser. If you want to use the latter, do not click on Download now (which will install the Download Director). Instead, click on the "download using http" link.

  10. Here's a nearly identical page, but now the "Download now" link will initiate a browser-based download. And you're a go!
Now, compare this to the process of downloading the OpenOffice.org office suite (which recently upgraded to version 2.3):
  1. Go to the OpenOffice.org download page. Click on "get openoffice.org."

  2. Choose whether you want to select your operating system, order the suite on CD, download it via P2P, or download various extensions.

  3. Click on your preferred OS.

  4. "You are about to download OpenOffice.org..." Wouldn't you like to contribute? No? Well, if you have problems, here's how to contact us. Meanwhile, click on "continue to download." And you're a go.
Now, I don't yet know which is the better office suite: OpenOffice.org or Lotus Symphony. I plan to find out. But I do know that if I were Joe or Jane Regular-User, and hit the kind of third-degree that the IBM site puts you through, I would have abandoned the whole process and jumped to OpenOffice.org.

I'd like to respectfully offer the folks at IBM a bit of advice: If you really want to be known for your free office suite, it's not enough to simply say you're going to let people download your product. You have to let them do it without making them suffer for it first.

FOLLOW-UP: IBM has apparently changed their process so that users have the option to proceed with the download without an IBM ID. Good work, IBM....

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