IBM recently announced the commercial-grade, general availability of Lotus Symphony a suite of free, software tools for creating and sharing documents, spreadsheets and presentations.
Even in the midst of free or low cost software Microsoft continues to have the lion’s share of Office Suites. Why?
Well, if “everyone” is using Word, are you going to use something else? Even with new versions of Word, the ones that you get with a “docx” extension – it’s a pain for many people to use as it can’t be read by earlier/lower versions of Word – which many people still have. So one big reason more companies are not using other applications is compatibility.
For “basic” office suite tasks (like word processing, spreadsheets, etc) any office suite will do. However, when you start doing things with graphics, specialized functions, tables and other tasks in your office suite compatibility really starts to break down. Moving to a world of online communication via HTMl, plain text and XML is where the power of collaboration and cross platform document communication shines. The more companies entering this phase of communication the less there will be a need for Microsoft Office.
If you want to save a lot of money on purchasing Microsoft Office there’s two options.
1. Ensure you are part of a Microsoft licensing program. You’ll save a lot of money paying full retail prices.
2. The other option is to put a strategy together to use alternative office suites – such as from IBM, ThinkFree and others. One caution: If you get emails from Word users and can’t open them or can’t read them properly it could damage your client or partner relations.
Beyond just downloading FREE software, IBM is encouraging developers to write programs (as is done with Microsoft Word) to add value to Lotus Symphony. Support is also very important and you can get support from your local IBM partner or pay for it from IBM directly.