IBM tackles Microsoft on all fronts

Lotus Symphony open-source software and Lotus Notes 8 could enable IBM to mount a serious challenge to Microsoft's dominance

IBM is tackling Microsoft on several fronts, including office productivity, email clients and groupware.

This week the company re-launched Lotus Symphony, which was a serious competitor to Microsoft Office, dating back to before IBM's purchase of Lotus. This time around, Symphony is based on the open-source OpenOffice software — and IBM has joined the OpenOffice movement with a promise to contribute software.

Symphony is integrated with Lotus Notes, IBM's long-running groupware product which is to be distributed in its physical form on Friday. The product is popular with large organisations, and has been increasing its market share, although analysts don't expect it to overtake Microsoft's Outlook/Exchange products.

The company also plans to give Microsoft a run for its money in unified communications. While Microsoft is gearing up for the launch of Office Communications Server, and building in telephony and IM into its Outlook client, IBM is planning to do much the same thing, through a partnership with Siemens that will bring more communications methods into Lotus Sametime.