WINNER: IBM Lotus Symphony
Lotus Symphony acts much like Microsoft Office, which is good if you are looking for something to replace Office at a fraction of the cost (free!). It’s not so good if you are looking for something entirely different from Office, but there aren’t many free suites that accomplish that yet. There are plenty of individual applications out there, but most office productivity suites at the moment are, more or less, Office clones.
Symphony consists of word processing, spreadsheet and presentation applications. Based on the Open Document Format standard, Symphony saves all documents by default to that format. It can open and edit documents created under OpenOffice and other applications that also follow ODF. Symphony can also open and edit all Office documents saved in the older .doc format. Documents created in Office 2007 with the newer .docx (.xlsx and .pptx) formats can’t be opened under Symphony.
The Office 2007 installation here at the Test Center by default saves documents in the Office 97-2003 format (in the interest of backward-compatibility) so there were no problems editing files created in Symphony under Office 2007, or vice versa. The Test Center found Symphony a snap to use, and switching to Symphony after years of using Microsoft Office was painless.
A great award to be given so early in the product’s life. Ed Brill (responsible for Symphony as well as Lotus Notes and other client applications) goes on to say:
Great to see the recognition of the work the Symphony team has put in during 2008 to ship three releases (1.0, 1.1, 1.2), translate to 28 languages, and support millions of downloads during the year. Congratulations to the team!
I would echo that – a stunning achievement by the Symphony team. Well done to all involved!