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IBM Now Offering Microsoft Customers Free of Charge Lotus Symphony Software with Popular Widgets

This just in...

ARMONK, NY, September 10, 2009 --- IBM has begun offering Microsoft customers free of charge productivity software that is compatible with popular Microsoft Office formats, and supports a wide range of widgets popularized by consumer Web sites and third parties that extend the functions of Lotus Symphony.

These widgets allow people to tap into everything from Web-based Google Gadgets, Lotus Sametime, Lotus Quickr, Lotus Connections, popular wikis, even Microsoft Sharepoint and MSN from within Symphony. IBM's Lotus Symphony (link) software provides word processing documents, spreadsheets and presentations effectively replacing Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel and Microsoft Powerpoint.

IBM has added a new feature that allows individuals to easily drag-and-drop widgets into Lotus Symphony, distinguishing it from static office productivity tools such as Microsoft Word. Drag-and-drop also makes Symphony stand out from other Microsoft alternatives, simplifying the use and installalation widgets with just one click. With this drag-and-drop feature, IBM and various third parties including independent software vendors, individual developers, customers and Business Partners are writing a wide range of new widgets for Lotus Symphony.

Widgets extend Symphony's capabilities through the commonly accepted open standards, Eclipse and Java. Due to its cross-platform nature, Symphony's widgets are developed once and run across all three Symphony document, presentation and spreadsheet applications, lowering the cost to bring new capabilities to end users; whereas new applications must be built separately for Microsoft Word, Microsoft Office and Microsoft PowerPoint.

IBM Lotus Symphony leads a growing class of Microsoft Office alternatives, with millions of copies in circulation. The first full version of Symphony appeared on June 3, 2008.

"Today there are more innovative, open alternatives such as Symphony that compare favorably to Microsoft Office," said Bob Picciano, general manager, IBM Lotus Software. "Symphony's open collaboration model can offer businesses limitless options cost-effectively at a time when many organizations are increasingly concerned about investing in Microsoft Office."

New Widgets, New Capabilities

Among the more popular widgets supported for Symphony are cloud-based Google Gadgets such as the Currency Converter Gadget which shows equivalent monetary values; the Unit Converter Gadget which translates units of measurement; and the Wikipedia Gadget that provides instant access to information on Wikipedia, and many others all directly from within Symphony.

IBM also announces the debut of new widgets designed to extend Symphony from office productivity to a more interactive collaboration tool, including:

The Lotus Symphony Learning Widget blends local and cloud-based learning resources at the individual's fingertips inside the product to quickly master the full range of Symphony's capabilities.

  • With Team Workspace Widgets, people can access and work with documents from the most popular tools including Microsoft Sharepoint and Lotus Quickr.
  • The new ChartShare Widget enables the instant sharing of an individual's screen with from one to 20 people to view a presentation file. To edit and co-create charts, users can launch a Sametime Unyte Live meeting in a single click within Symphony. This widget demonstrates how to seamlessly blend rich client and cloud computing. It also provides presence awareness and instant messaging capability in side shelf for anyone that has been a contributor to the presentation.

Symphony 2 Wiki Widgets are two new widgets that plug into Symphony to create rich wiki content inside of Symphony and convert the content for publishing to wikis such as Confluence Wiki and Mediawiki. Treasure Box allows Symphony to keep on hand links to frequently used documents, graphics and applications and insert them directly into your presentation, for example, without exiting Symphony. This widget essentially makes a "favorites" list right within Symphony for several file types inlcuding presentations, documents, as well as graphics and applications.

The Export Graphic Widget lets users export graphics, shapes, and charts they create in Symphony to files in common formats such as .gif, .jpeg, .png, .bmp helping them save time by re-using their visual creative.

Consumers, students, businesses, governments, universities and non-profits around the world have saved many millions of dollars using IBM Lotus Symphony. While Symphony is free of charge to download and use by consumers and organizations, large businesses can opt to buy contracts for help desk support for a flat fee of just over $26,000 per year which still represents a significant savings over a Microsoft Office licensing agreement. Depending upon environment, Lotus Symphony could save a company millions of dollars in software license fees or software renewal fees.

In its most recently released version, Lotus Symphony 1.3, enhancements were added such as support for Microsoft Office 2007 file formats such as .docx, xlsx, and .pptx which allow most Office users to easily access and transfer company information into Symphony or work seamlessly with a Microsoft user. Symphony has DataPilot (also known as pivot table) improvements that allow people to easily drill down and analyze data. Mail merge and envelope printing enhancements appeal to organizations that need cost-effective ways to correspond with customers.

In addition, Lotus Symphony is also packaged with Lotus Notes and Lotus Foundations with support already included, no extra charge. Symphony is available on a wide range of devices and platforms including Apple MacIntosh, Microsoft Windows, Ubuntu Linux, Red Hat Linux and Suse Linux. IBM Lotus Symphony can be downloaded free of charge at: http://sy

Add some viral UX video to this, and you've got a hit on your hands!

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About the author: Chris Toohey

Thought Leadership, Web & Mobile Application Development, Solutions Integration, Technical Writing & Mentoring

A published developer and webmaster of, Chris Toohey specializes in platform application development, solutions integration, and evangelism of platform capabilities and best practices.

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