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back to article IBM hopes open office is Symphony to your key-tapping fingers

IBM has joined the growing group of tech companies punting alternatives to Microsoft's omnipresent Office suite. Its new Lotus Symphony package, which launched yesterday, includes word processing, spreadsheet and presentation programs and is available free of charge to Windows and Linux users. The software uses the …

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Hmm, deja vu...

I've been doing this job too long. I remember going to Lotus's launch of a whizzy application suite back in the 80s; spreadsheet, WP etc. Now let me think, what was it called? Ah yes, Symphony :-). Supposed to be a mega follow on for the all-dominant (then) Lotus 1-2-3, never really cut it.

Maybe this is in the same vein as old rock groups reforming for one last blast. You've gotta hope that the new Symphony takes off better than the original, it's about time there was some decent competition for the MS suite. I use both (MS at work, OO at home 'cos I'm too tight-fisted to pay for MS), and get reasonable interoperability, so who knows?

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Bronze badge

Don't judge too soon

The applications are available as part of the Notes 8 Beta release (OK, I know it's dangerous to mention Notes around here) and from using the word processor et al for the last few months I have to say it does all I could want and more. While there may be the odd one or two people in an organisation who 'just have' to have a more fully specced product, for 90%+ of users this would be all they want and more. Certainly having the OO standard document out of it is worth a lot to a multi-national organisation and it also includes direct output as PDF which annoys agencies no end as they can't play with it.

Truth to tell, how many people actually need more than Notepad and Calculator?

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Tim

Please no!

"kicking off its participation by donating code it has developed for its Lotus Notes project."

I'm sure MS would love to see Notes code poisoning all of their competitors. Lotus Notes. What a steaming heap of trash.

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Anonymous Coward

I can see why their bundling in with open office

Its getting to be a mighty functional package and its competitiveness has saved me spending any money on Microsoft office software at home.

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Now all it needs is...

... a decent bloatless (I.E. not Notes - despite the fact being an ex-IBMer, I like it and was bought up on it) email package...

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US English

Just looked at the system requirements

* Supported Windows platforms: Windows XP, Windows Vista

* Supported Linux platforms: SLED 10, RHEL 5, Redhat5

* 900MB disk space minimum

* 1GB RAM memory minimum

* US English locale

WTF - why stipulate US English, will it crash if I try to spell words properly, do the fonts not contain enough U's to spell colour & neighbour properly

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@Kevin Johnston

"Truth to tell, how many people actually need more than Notepad and Calculator?"

Minesweeper! Don't forget Minesweeper! How can anyone work without Minesweeper...

Maybe also an Internet pr0n browser, but that is, after all is said and done, not an obligatory tool, but probably a close fourth.

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failed.

Well i tried to download the Lotus synphony suite.

But apparently their site didnt work with my Firefox.

So if youre not into MS you cant get their MS killer. :-)

Well maybe im extrapolating to muvh.

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Anonymous Coward

@Hmm, deja vu...

Heh, I remember Symphony too. Unfortunately, Lotus then already has a Spreadsheet app out, and it was wildly more popular: 1-2-3.

Also, there's a major difference here: The new Symphony is free. The old Symphony isn't.

Also, what ever happened to Lotus/IBM's other bundle, SmartSuite?

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Bronze badge

Good.

I thought the story was going to say that IBM was to sell boxes with OO.o on them, but this is close enough.

Anything to stop people thinking they "need" MS Office. Damn I'm sick of Office. Especially the brokenness of Outlook (and to a lesser extent, Access).

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Anonymous Coward

IBM are carpet baggers

IBM are now trying to hitch a ride on FOSS because they can't compete with Microsoft on their own terms. Any donation of code is a trojan horse - they're just using any project to help them make money. Money they make from the backs of other people. IBM had a great office suite with Lotus SmartSuite and they then proceeded to bugger it up completely. This is a company more interested in selling services than anything else where using your code is simply a means to sell you consultancy.

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@@Hmm, deja vu...

And I thought I would be the only one with this title!

Yes, I too well remember the original Symphony. I also remember it ran on my 12 MHz (read that again - 12 MHz!) PC/AT with 48K RAM (phew, what a whopper!).

Yesterday I tried the new Symphony on one of my smaller systems - only 1.2GHz, with only 768 Mb, a 32-bit data path and a 200 MHz FSB. And it ran like a - well like watching paint dry. Even with a single page empty document the mouse pointer was unable to keep pace with my normal hand movements (perhaps I should rephrase that...). It also broke and died.

I haven't experienced performance like this since the VISI-ON apps - or was it the first port (actually an emulation) of DisplayWriter to PC architecture?.

OH dear. It seems like the old IBM problems are still with us, 22 years on. I expect the same long term result: another MS win, sadly.

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Pointless - why release this at all, IBM?

The release of the IBM Lotus Symphony suite has me completely perplexed, especially coming shortly after they've announced that dozens of IBM folks will helping out the OpenOffice.org effort. It's painful to even get the software (which is *beta* BTW, something none of the lazy journos out there seem to have mentioned!) - you have to register on IBM's site first and sit through a dog slow Web download (no torrent...).

I ran the Linux version and if you thought OpenOffice.org was bloated, you haven't tried Symphony - it actually sits on top of Eclipse (another bloatware product if ever I saw one) to double its footprint and presents a strange bordered interface. It seems to offer absolutely nothing that OpenOffice.org doesn't (unsurprising, since the engine underneath is the same) and my only conclusion is that this is a pointless, bloated release that IBM have made a huge mistake bothering with.

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Stick with Open Office

This Symphony (yes, and I remember the original one too) is based on a fork of Open Office 1.1. Open Office is now at version 2.3. IBM have announced that they are committing to developing Open Office, but it's not clear whether they are going to work on their fork or take the current OO source and add to it.

As for SmartSuite, it still seems to live, quite probably on several thousand desktops belonging to IBM, where it sits next to MS Office as none but the hardcore publish documents in Lotus' LWP format.

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Lotus Jokes

Lotus Notes was described diplomatically by an IT Support worker at my previous workplace as "not having many fans."

It is a truly awful program: look-and-feel inconsistent with other applications, awkward user interface - for example its non-proportionate scroll-bars, pointless adjustable dividers and difficult to use on at other site locations because of the many incomprehensible set-up questions.

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Silver badge

OpenOffice or MS Office, but not Symphony?

Sorry, but I actually like MS Office - it works! Same goes for OpenOffice, though I have managed to have problems from the supposed 1% chance of incompatibilities with MS Office. I detest Notes and only use it as work insists I have to, and I wouldn't recommend it.

I really can't see what IBM hope to gain other than some services trying to get MS Office users to work with Symphony, and there are enough Notes haters out there to make this a tough sale. I suppose there are many corporates putting Domino/Notes in as it does allow you to consolidate email servers down massively compared to Exchange, but they usually end up with users harking back to "the old days when email was easy". If MS every get their act together and make a real enterprise version of Exchange that can sit in a global cluster on real 64-bit servers, then Domino/Notes will lose a lot of customers.

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Slow.....

Downloaded symphony yesterday. Download is painfully slow.

Application is painfully slow.

Using an outdated fork of the openoffice codebase.

Doesn't handle microsoft documents anywhere near as well as oo2.3 does.

The main reason for having ms apps is that third party big business software tends to integrate to these, if anything. Most users wouldn't need ms so could use oo but if some people have ms in a large organisation then the ability for oo to properly render the documents created from it is vital (and the fork used for symphony isn't good enough).

Maybe the next release based on a more up to date fork will give better results.

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A fash from the past...

I remember the original Symphony too. Still got it in mint condition on 5 1/4" floppies. And 123!! I STILL prefer SmartSuite to MS Office. Still far easier to do some things in SmartSuite97 than Office 2003 and I think it was an all-round better office suite. My wife still thinks the best word processor she ever used is still the DOS version of WordPerfect!

I've been a user of OpenOffice since it was the origional StarOffice before Sun got their mitts on it and I like it but it's not quite there with M$ Orifice yet. Bring back SmartSuite - with the pretty coloured 'filing cabinet' drawers along the top that made funny 'whoooosh' noises when you opened them! Smart-tags that actually workd and that you could customise... and... and...

...I'm getting all misty-eyed now. How sad is that?

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A fash from the past...

I remember the original Symphony too. Still got it im mint condition 5 1/4" floppies. And 123!! I STILL prefer SmartSuite to MS Office. Still far easier to do some things in SmartSuite97 than Office 2003 and I think it was a better office suite My wife still thinks the best word processor she ever used is still the DOS version of WordPerfect! I've been a user of OpenOffice since it was the origional StarOffice before Sun got their mitts on it and I like it but it's not quite there with M$ Orifice yet.

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Anonymous Coward

RE: US English

..."why stipulate US English, will it crash if I try to spell words properly, do the fonts not contain enough U's to spell colour & neighbour properly"

Alan, just wait until the US switches to phonetic spelling. THEN you'll have something to be cranky about: http://www.spellingsociety.org

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Anonymous Coward

Spelling society

I've seen these goons before...! But wait-- why isn't their own site in their tortured phonetic versions of words?

Thay R dumm.

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