IBM's attacks Microsoft with an OpenOffice symphony

IBM's attacks Microsoft with an OpenOffice symphony

Summary: It's like a deja vu all over again, a battle of two major forces played over and over. Once again IBM is making an attempt to take down Microsoft, this time the lucrative Office franchise.

TOPICS: Microsoft, IBM, Security

It's like a deja vu all over again, a battle of two major forces played over and over. Once again IBM is making an attempt to take down Microsoft, this time the lucrative Office franchise. Reusing an old IBM/Lotus name, Lotus Symphony is likely to meet the same fate as the ill-fated OS/2 and Lotus SmartSuite, the operating system IBM and productivity suite created in the 1990's to topple Windows.


This time IBM is going the open source route, with a freely downloadable version of, joining Google in promoting the client-based productivity suite, which came out of Sun. IBM is even dedicating engineers to working on the OpenOffice project.


However, IBM isn't offering a freely downloadable communication suite, with email, calendar, instant messaging and other collaboration features as part of its symphony--at least not yet.

IBM thinks that it can do for OpenOffice what it did for Linux, in terms of sales, service and support efforts. It can also make money on the freely downloadable software selling consulting and support contracts to large corporations.

IBM, Sun, Google and other also want to make OpenDocument Format (ODF) that Symphony uses a standard document format, versus Microsoft's Office Open XML, which the International Organization for Standardization in Europe rejected as a standard.

After a decade, OpenOffice is a blip on Microsoft's screen. It could take another decade for IBM to make inroads with Symphony, especially given it doesn't have a cloud-based version yet. Nor is Microsoft standing still, and Google also seems to be interested in this space, with online collaboration at its core. Even Yahoo has raised its hand with its aquisition of Zimbra, and Zoho and ThinkFree will eventually get scooped up by a bigger player.

Even Larry Dignan is jumping into the fray:

Without further ado, I introduce DigOffice, a new paradigm in productivity software. It’ll be SAASy, on-demand, comply with all those document formats everyone gripes about. You’ll dig DigOffice so much that you’ll drop Microsoft Office, fire your CIO for being so stupid and embrace an open source, browser-centric productivity reality. Of course, DigOffice will have so much AJAX that you can clean your kitchen sink. And it’ll all work offline.

Topics: Microsoft, IBM, Security

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  • Stick to politics

    Maybe IBM ought to stick to using politics to take down MS. It is the only thing that seems to work for them. And maybe MS will realize that it has no choice but to build up a political machinery second to none, to continually blunt and assault its competitors.
    P. Douglas
    • Politics

      Do you really believe that Microsoft's ownership of the DOJ indicates a lack of political clout?
      Update victim
  • Thanks for the link...

    I was on their site this morning and couldn't find it anywhere.
    • Link worked for me

      Link worked for me. However, I'm not too crazy about the fact that I have to go through registration hurdles to get this, unlike Open Office. They want every bit of information including who I work for, mailing address, phone numbers, etc. Sheesh.

      Is it truly "freely available" when you have to fork over all your information?
  • Think Stratetic -- IBM does

    [i]After a decade, OpenOffice is a blip on Microsoft???s screen.[/i]

    If so, the radar is broken. Seven to twenty percent penetration should have their attention. Waiting until it hits fifty would be stupid. They're not stupid.

    Want proof? DIS-29500 is a panic reaction to the strategic threat.

    Don't be misled by "market share," since that's a dollar amount, which obviously weights in favor of the most expensive product on the market.

    [i]It could take another decade for IBM to make inroads with Symphony, especially given it doesn???t have a cloud-based version yet.[/i]

    IBM plans in the long term. Microsoft is like the Black Hole of IT: margin gets sucked into the Redmond event horizon never to return. IBM has watched it happen from the beginning, and knows what the ultimate outcome will be if they don't take preventive steps.

    The issue isn't whether this will ultimately turn into a major revenue source for IBM; it's whether it will make a net contribution to the bottom line. That contribution may well be due to preserving IBM Global Services' existing business from being eaten by MS-only initiatives run directly from Redmond.
    Yagotta B. Kidding
    • "IBM plans in the long term."

      True. I've been pretty miffed over the last few years at IBM's failure to market Notes better or articulate a long-term plan.

      Well, I'm still miffed, but for their failure to communicate rather than a failure to perform. When they finally opened the floodgates, it was a torrent. Notes transformed onto the Eclipse. Expeditor. DB2. Java-based and complete with Linux clients.

      On the same day of the Symphony announcement people are already deriding it as being incomplete without email and scheduling. They're missing the point, I think. Email, scheduling, collaboration are all built into Lotus Notes 8, and SameTime integrates to make it real-time. All of the Symphony tools are built directly into Notes, so this isn't targeting corporate customers directly: [i]they don't need it.[/i] For a little over 100 bucks a seat they get email AND collaboration AND database with years and years of compatible application templates AND a standards-compliant office suite.

      But to get people onto ODF at work you need them to be able to work home too, without having to pay extra for that. YES, you could edit the docs with, but for a lot of people branding matters. And so does the UI... Symphony has the same interface as Lotus Notes 8.

      Oh, yeah, and you can get it on your choice of platform, so it's possible to put low-cost Linux desktops on your company's roadmap and not worry about whether the company's apps will migrate. And if you look at what's coming, they're taking it mobile, too. Take a look at Lotus Expeditor.

      It is a long-term plan, and it looks to be a damned good one.
  • Citrix and OS/2

    First lets remember that OS/2 was a Microsoft Windows operating system product. I get so frustrated with authors that neglect that most important fact. Then lets note that Citrix is a company formed by the OS/2 developers and then lets add to our knowledge by pointing out how Citrix is saving Microsoft Office 2007/ Vista.

    Then lets back up to the Patty Dunn identity thefts. This involved Zdnet/Cnet reporters. In any case the theft caused congressional testimony to be given regarding a three-way-back-room secrete deal where HP was to get special pricing for Itanium processors and Microsoft was to get a platform that Microsoft SQL Server would better IBM's DB2 and Oracle 9i on. The testimony resulted in the removal of virtually all who worked on the project from all three companies and the mysterious disappearance of a Microsoft database scientist who was lost at sea. The Itanium is now known as Titaium as in Titanic + Itanium and only the most shielded workers in our industry do not know this story by now.

    But there is more. Vista and Office 2007 was developed with Itanium in mind. It is for this reason that Vista and Office 2007 do not benchmark well against software developed with Java on the newer PCS. Java was created with multicore multiprocesors in mind. Hence programs written in Java naturally take advantage of threading to use the multiplicity of these processors. Vista and Office were meant for singleton processors. They still need to be rewritten to match the realities of todays computing devices.

    And now for the rest of the story. If you put Vista and Office 2007 "in the cloud", you can run it on very fast Itanium like 64 bit servers. It no longer appears slow. Hence Citrix saves Vista and OS/2.
    • Good one!

      I run my multi-threaded Excel calculations every day (which other spreasheet app does this, again?), and Vista's multi-threaded model was in place a decade ago back in the Win2000 time frame. You can take a look at the high-end database transaction results on 32+ processors if you're actually interested, since that model's been shipping for a LONG time now. (Or just run the beta of Win2008 Server.)

      I'm also curious which office suite benchmarks show Office 2007 (or any other version) running poorly against java-based suites.

      But, an excellent piece of reading none the less, we all need a bit of levity from time to time! Let us know if you find another spreadsheet app that calculates on all pocessor cores to surpass Excel's performance, by all means!
    • sorry, but collarotation and ownership are NOT the same

      OS/2 was a joint project of IBM and Microsoft with IBM working on the kernal and Microsoft working on the GUI. Microsoft bailed out when IBM would not incorporate the GUI into the kernal for stability reasons. The early versions of OS/2 and Windows OS/2/NT, which is what Microsoft called their version, were able to run each other's applications.

      Microsoft dumped the vastly superior High Performance File system to create incompatibilities with IBM and kill this interoperability, but they kept the GUI in the kernal and they kept the resulting "Blue Screen of Death".
      Update victim
      • Sorry about that "collarotation", should be "collaboration"

        Update victim
  • Message has been deleted.

    David Grober
    • Is there nobody immune?

      I guess you offended some one.
  • RE: IBM's attacks Microsoft with an OpenOffice symphony

    An obvious lack of impartiality, and facts, with regard to the 'reporting' here.... take the phrase;-

    "want to make OpenDocument Format (ODF) that Symphony uses a standard document format, versus Microsoft???s Office Open XML, which the International Organization for Standardization in Europe rejected as a standard."

    (1) There is no "wanting". ODF is THE only internationally recognized document standard.

    (2) The ISO is an international standards body with member countries from every geographical region; - yes even the USA. Its not some nefarious European conspiracy to attack anything produced by America/Microsoft. So why try and introduce xenophobia into your piece?

    It begins to look like ZDNET is run from Redmond's PR Dept.
    • your point

      Good point on ISO regarding ODF needs to be adopted by users. far as your comment about ZDNet and Redmond...we are used to people making those kinds of unsupported claims...
      • Dear Dan,

        When the mistakes in fact in your articles stop appearing to only support Redmond, you will probably stop seeing the attacks.
        Update victim
  • OpenProj adds to a bad week for Microsoft

    Microsoft is having a bad week !!! Projity has open sourced OpenProj, a complete replacement of Microsoft Project. OpenProj even opens existing native Microsoft Project files and is available on Linux, Unix, Mac or Windows. Microsoft Project costs $1,000 a copy .... OpenProj is free ! Project is part of the Microsoft Office family of products and is their largest profit margin SKU. It drives over $1billion in revenue, or did before OpenProj. Microsoft Project resides on 7% of all Office desktops so this is a huge addition to the efforts of Google, Sun, Novell and IBM in offering alternative Office suites to Microsoft. There has been Word, Excel and Powerpoint replacements, there is now a key replacement for Project. The OpenProj solution has been downloaded over 100,000 times in the first month. Projity has both desktop and SaaS solutions so this is a major addition to Google Applications online Office and IBM/Sun's desktop Office suite. This is huge, way to go Projity !!!!!!
  • RE: IBM's attacks Microsoft with an OpenOffice symphony

    Dear Dan,

    While reading your article about why IBM will again fail to unseat Microsoft with Lotus Symphony, I find myself in disagreement. IBM was trying to make OS/2 a commercial success and was thwarted by the illegal activities of Microsoft with their exclusionary sales contracts which violated the anti trust laws of this country. OS/2 was a demonstrably better operating system, but as we have learned, there are few people who will choose the better when given, to all appearances, since the preloaded operating system seems to be given with the computer, a merely adequate operating system. These illegal activities were condoned, if not actively supported, by the Federal Government which did nothing to enforce the law until the anti trust suit about Netscape in which all of the primary violations were ignored. Then the anti trust suit, which the government won was settled with an agreement that could have passed for a Microsoft marketing plan. It required only a change in accounting codes and elimination of the exclusionary clause from the software contracts with the OEMs. But, the price of the software went to way up for smaller quantities and the quantity discounts were minuscule unless the OEM signed an exclusive software promotion contract.

    Microsoft may still have the OEM market despite the rhetoric from Dell and HP, but even before IBM's latest move, Linux has been making inroads at a rate similar to Microsoft's growth with DOS, which was their first exclusionary sales contract software. (I personally had a vendor refuse to sell Digital research DOS to me because, "my contract with Microsoft prevents it.") I call the noise from Dell and HP rhetoric because I bought a Dell E1505 with Ubuntu Linux installed. Well, supposedly installed. After going through the set up process and getting the upgrades, I rebooted. the system failed to boot. I reinstalled from the supplied Ubuntu CD, upgraded and everything worked as would be expected, except that circular figures were ellipses. The 13 by 8 screen dimensions were not matched by the 4 by 3 aspect ration of the video driver. There was no suitable video driver on the system. I had to find, download and install the correct driver.

    The evidence indicates that the U. S. government still supports Microsoft rather than the laws of this country, but it appears that the European Union places the law first. Microsoft has made many enemies and I expect them to continue as before. This will result in the more rapid adoption of alternate software which is effectively owned by the user.

    You said: "IBM, Sun, Google and other also want to make Open Document Format (ODF) that Symphony uses a standard document format, versus Microsoft???s Office Open XML, which the International Organization for Standardization in Europe rejected as a standard." This is incorrect. Open Document format IS a standard and has been for a while now. On the other hand Microsoft???s Office Open XML is not a standard and Microsoft itself has stated that they will not commit to their proposed format even if it is approved.

    Sorry Dan, but I think that you are wrong this time.

    C. J. Lingo
    Update victim
  • RE:IBM?s attacks Microsoft with an OpenOffice symphony

    Now it get harder and harder to believe on the tech press, there seems that a lot of "Redmond Journalist" around.

    For example this paragraph is irrelevant.
    "However, IBM isn?t offering a freely downloadable communication suite, with email, calendar, instant messaging and other collaboration features as part of its symphony?at least not yet."

    It is only used to create doubt on the reader's mind.

    Plus, there is no scientific evidence that reusing an old name in a product will have the same fate as the original one. Just ask my sons, Hitler, Lenin and Ghenghis. ;P