Technology giant IBM has announced a plan to help cost-conscious businesses save money on software licensing costs for Microsoft Office by providing support for Microsoft Office 2007 with the newest version of Lotus Symphony, IBM's free productivity software suite.
The ability to import Microsoft Office 2007 files into Symphony means that Microsoft Office customers can save on licensing costs by switching to Symphony while retaining access to the contents of their Office files. Lotus Symphony Version 1.3 is now available free on IBM's Website.
IBM said its alternative to Office 2007 makes cost-free document software a legitimate option for many companies that want to realize cost efficiencies in the current economic climate, but also require assurance of the quality and reliability of the technology.
In addition to adding support for Microsoft Office 2007 file formats, Lotus Symphony 1.3 offers DataPilot Table improvements, enhances mail merge and envelope printing, and provides animation to enhance presentations and interoperate with Microsoft PowerPoint presentations. The updated version of Symphony allows users to drag and drop plug-ins, such as a learning plug-in that can be installed on the right sidebar to help users learn Symphony capabilities. Symphony is shipped with every copy of Lotus Notes and Lotus Foundations software.
"IBM is delivering on its commitment to free businesses and consumers from having to pay licensing fees over and over just to access their own personal or company information," said Lotus Software's Vice President Kevin Cavanaugh. "Now, it will be much harder to justify paying Office licensing fees when you can preserve and access your Office documents for free using Lotus Symphony."
Reducing fixed costs in challenging times is important to Cluttons, a partnership of chartered surveyors. Through a network of offices in the U.K., Europe, Middle East and South Africa, Cluttons offers a wide range of professional property management, agency and consultancy services across the commercial and residential sectors.
In recent years, Cluttons delivered Microsoft Windows desktop, including Microsoft Office, IBM Lotus Notes and business applications, to its users via a virtualized environment based on Citrix. Now it plans to switch from Office to Symphony, used with Lotus Notes 8.5. Mark Clemence, Cluttons' IT director, said the opportunity to use fully supported office productivity tools as part of the deployment of Lotus Notes 8.5 was too good to be missed. "We plan to use the cost saving to further invest in Lotus productivity tool sets," he said.
IBM also touted Italian food distributor Gruppo Amadori, which recently began converting its 6,000 employees to Symphony on Linux desktops from an Office and Windows environment as part of a cost-control strategy. The IBM Linux desktop includes Lotus Notes, Lotus Sametime and Lotus Quickr, in addition to Symphony.