Lotus Symphony Office Suite available for free from IBM

Internet users may now access IBM's Lotus Symphony office suite for free from IBM's Web site. The program, which permits the user to create documents, spreadsheets and presentations from software stored on IBM's servers, is available for both Microsoft Windows and Linux operating systems, with support for the Apple Mac OS platform planned for the future.

Alternatively, Microsoft's Office Suite for both XP and Vista is now listed on Amazon starting at $325 for the standard version.

Rob Tidrow, a computer programmer who has written several guides to using Microsoft Office, says that "Symphony does not lack many features that even power users of Office need," according to Reuters. Tidrow has installed Symphony on the computers of his two children, and says it can meet the needs of churches, schools, and small businesses. Tidrow just finished writing IBM Lotus Symphony for Dummies.

Another satisfied user is Pierre Avignon, a graphics designer from West Newbury, Massachusetts. RedOrbit reports that Avignon uses Symphony for the kind of work he used to perform on Microsoft's Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. But he says that when he tells his friends about Symphony, "As soon as you say it's free, (people) feel less comfortable. They say 'What's the catch?'"

In some cases, the catch may be a time cost. For small businesses already using Microsoft Office the migration to Symphony could be complicated, canadianbusiness.com says. One way around this problem is to save documents in Adobe Systems' Portable Document Format (PDF), and e-mail them as read-only files, a solution that IBM also suggests. IBM does not offer technical support for Symphony.

Untangling accounting software that is hooked in with Excel, or collaboration platforms or content management tools that link with Word can also be difficult. "Everything is dedicated to integrate well with Microsoft Office," says Fen Yik, an analyst with Info-Tech Research Group in London, Ontario, according to canadianbusiness.com, "and that is not necessarily the case with other productivity suites."

http://www.redorbit.com/news/technology/1377174/ibm_offers_free_alternative_to_microsoft_office/

But Symphony and other free programs like OpenOffice, which includes a database program and drawing software, and Google Docs are becoming attractive alternatives for businesses that do not have large technology budgets as well as for personal use.

"Ninety percent of the users don't need all the functionality that Office provides," said Rebecca Wettemann, an analyst with Nucleus Research, according to Reuters. "Ninety percent of people basically just use Excel to make lists."

You may like these other stories...

How are you planning? What tools do you use (or fail to use) for forecasting? PlanGuru is a business budgeting, forecasting, and performance review software company based in White Plains, N.Y. AccountingWEB recently spoke...
Event Date: October 30, 2014, 2 pm ETMany Excel users have a love-hate relationship with workbook links. For the uninitiated, workbook links allow you to connect one Microsoft Excel spreadsheet to other spreadsheets, Word...
Event Date: September 9, 2014, 2:00 pm ETIn this session we'll discuss the types of technologies and their uses in a small accounting firm office. Included will be:The networked office: connecting everything together for...

Already a member? log in here.

Upcoming CPE Webinars

Aug 21
Meet budgets and client expectations using project management skills geared toward the unique challenges faced by CPAs. Kristen Rampe will share how knowing the keys to structuring and executing a successful project can make the difference between success and repeated failures.
Aug 26
This webcast will include discussions of recently issued, commonly-applicable Accounting Standards Updates for non-public, non-governmental entities.
Aug 28
Excel spreadsheets are often akin to the American Wild West, where users can input anything they want into any worksheet cell. Excel's Data Validation feature allows you to restrict user inputs to selected choices, but there are many nuances to the feature that often trip users up.
Sep 9
In this session we'll discuss the types of technologies and their uses in a small accounting firm office.