IBM Lotus Symphony: A Good Alternative to MS Word


IBM Lotus Symphony is powerful, it’s free, and best of all, it’s a viable alternative to MS Word. Preston Galla from PC World reports:

Once upon a time, in the deep, dark recesses of computer history past, Lotus Symphony battled Microsoft Office to become the dominant Office suite. Today, of course, Microsoft Office is dominant, while Lotus Symphony has become largely a forgotten footnote to history. And that’s too bad, because IBM Lotus Symphony (as it’s now called) is quite a powerful office suite–and amazingly enough, anyone can download and use it for free.

You might be surprised at what you find when you install IBM Lotus Symphony: a slick, sophisticated suite with all the bells and whistles, including a very elegant interface. All documents open in their own tabs, which means you can have word processing documents, presentations, and spreadsheets all open in the same program at the same time in the same interface–just in different tabs. IBM Lotus Symphony creates and opens documents in the Open Document Format standard, as well as Microsoft Office file formats. It doesn’t use the newest Office formats, but few people do, so it most likely won’t be a problem for you. So if you’re looking for an excellent, free office suite, IBM Lotus Symphony a great bet.

I grew frustrated with MS Word a few years back and opted for OpenOffice instead. Although the features were comparable, OpenOffice was so incompatible with everything else that I ultimately dropped it. IBM Lotus Symphony sounds like a big improvement. If you’re interested, you can download it here.

Why would IBM offer a free office suite? Because Microsoft needs a viable competitor. If Lotus Symphony seeds well, it could be a viable alternative to MS Word. The timing is concurrent with widespread disappointment with Vista, and flat MS marketing efforts.

It would be neat to see more competition in the office application space.

  • Interested to read your comments on Open Office. Originally I used Word Perfect/Quattro Pro but later changed to Office because everyone else used it. Not having the hassle of compatibility worries was worth the entry cost. I tried Open Office but only so far as to see what it did and no more.
    One thing that I like the sound of is a single UX container for different types of documents. Maybe Microsoft should consider this, surely the Fluent UX makes it more viable than before.

  • Jim Mason

    Interesting comment on Open Office. Can’t understand why IBM invested in Symphony when Open Office is more compatible for existing Microsoft users, has a bigger user base, a better license, more components, a larger 3rd party set of extensions, interfaces as well as more vendor support. I’m sure IBM had a great reason for introducing Symphony late to the game in 2007 but I haven’t heard it anywhere yet.