IBM states that all corporate PCs must have Lotus Symphony installed, all documents in ODF by end of 2009

The H blog reports that IBM is switching wholesale from Microsoft Office to Lotus Symphony – most of us knew that IBM was heading in this direction, but it is good to see it confirmed in such emphatic fashion:

American IT giant IBM plans to have its staff abandon Microsoft office software. According to a report in German daily Handelsblatt, the some 360,000 employees of the firm are to switch from the MS Office Suite to IBM’s own Lotus Symphony. The paper’s report (German link), is based on leaked internal IBM correspondence from upper management. IBM’s internal move away from Micrsoft Office began in June 2008 with early pilots. By the end of the year, IBM documents are to be created in the ODF format, which is license-free for everyone.

Microsoft Office will then only be installed at IBM with prior approval. The instructions from the end of August stipulate that Symphony has to be installed on all company computers within ten workdays. 330,000 employees have reportedly already switched. The goal is apparently not to save money. Rather, IBM wants to make sure that all information will remain available on all IT platforms and on the internet.

IBM apparently plans to use only open formats, but not necessarily open source; Lotus Symphony is based on the old version 1.x of OpenOffice and supports Documents, Spreadsheets and Presentations. Although the OpenOffice code was open source, the license at the time allowed companies not to release their changes; IBM made use of this and Symphony source code changes have not been open sourced, although Lotus Symphony is free of charge, requiring only user registration. IBM developers have changed the office suite in some crucial areas too. For instance, IBM’s office suite has its own interface, and three programs have been left out: Drawing, Formula, and Database. The most recent version was Lotus Symphony 1.3 which was released in June.

Now that’s a great show of support for their own product and technologies!

Stuart McIntyre is a Senior Strategist at Fostering Community Limited. He curates a number of product-focused news sites, is a lapsed podcaster, founded the Social Connections user group and regularly speaks at conferences and events. This blog represents his own slightly-eccentric and usually-controversial opinions!