IBM today announced IBM Lotus Symphony, a suite of software tools for creating and sharing documents, spreadsheets and presentations. This places IBM in competition with Google who recently began distributing Sun's Star Office Suite as part of the Google Pack. But of course the real competition for IBM, Google and others is Microsoft and its dominent Office suite. IBM already lost this battle to Microsoft in the 90s when Office crushed it's Lotus SmartSuite offering. Will Symphony's battle with Office take a different course? IBM is taking a different path this time by offering an open source product built around the Open Document Format (ODF) and by making the software available for free download. IBM's announcement also emphasizes the collaborative aspects of their new offering and the ability to build composite applications through integration with existing business processes. The IBM Lotus Symphony suite includes Lotus Symphony Documents, Lotus Symphony Spreadsheets and Lotus Symphony Presentations. The tools support Windows and Linux desktops and have the ability to output to the PDF format.Open source office apps have not been a significant threat to Microsoft's dominence in the market so far. But with support from Sun, Google and IBM brewing and with new pressures from web-based offerings entering the market, the next battle for office productivity suites may be officially underway.
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