IBM Symphony Pushes Microsoft Buttons

Will the suite of office apps finally push Microsoft Office out?

NEW YORK -- IBM took over the American Natural History Museum's Hayden Planetarium for a day to push not only its portfolio of collaboration software for the enterprise but also Microsoft.

IBM Lotus Symphony is free suite of applications that includes Louts Symphony Documents, Lotus Symphony Spreadsheets and Lotus Symphony Presentations. IBM also created a social network of sorts to go with the applications. There, users can download the editors, clip-art and document templates.

Lotus Symphony is designed to handle the majority of office productivity tasks that workers typically perform, according to a statement. Google, which announced application called Presentations today, frequently pitches its Google Apps at the same level of workers.

During a press conference following the presentation in the planetarium, IBM Lotus general manager Mike Rhodin described Lotus Symphony as part IBM's efforts to be an active participant in the Open Office community.

He said Microsoft, IBM Lotus's primary rival in the enterprise space, should follow suit. "We would like Microsoft to endorse, support and join the Open Office initiative," Rhodin said.

The rest of the Lotus news involved upgrades to its existing portfolio of products.

Lotus Notes is now available via enterprise hosting as a pay-as-you-go service, which will cost $5 to $10 dollars per month, per user Rhodin said. He also said that Lotus Notes Traveler, a mobile client for Lotus Notes and Dominio 8.0.1 is currently scheduled to be available in the first quarter of 2008.

The company also touted an upgrade to its file-sharing software Lotus Quickr, called Lotus Quickr Content Integrator. It's designed for administrators to import content from Lotus Domino document manager libraries and team rooms, as well as Microsoft Outlook public folders and Microsoft SharePoint sites.

To cap it off, Rhodin and company announced a new version of Lotus Forms and new accelerators for IBM Websphere Portal customers.

Those, according to a statement, are tools that help customers create, connect and share content through professional networking tools.

Despite a perhaps long list of news, most of the day was spent pushing Lotus products on Enterprise buyers in attendance. To help, IBM invited Forrester Research analyst Erica Long on stage. Among other things, Long explained to the executives in attendance that social networks such as Facebook weren't just for kids anymore.

The companies represented in the room better figure out how to include some of the technologies IBM Lotus offers, Long said, or risk falling behind.

It was all a very earnest effort from a company that's tried to unseat Microsoft as the dominate player in enterprise software for years.

During the press conference, one reporter asked why it sounded like he'd heard all of this from IBM Lotus before. IBM senior vice president Steve Mills fielded that question.

"It's no secret that anything you do is based on what you've tried to do in the past with varying degrees of success."

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