Lotus Symphony 1.3 is here!

Lotus Symphony

The Lotus Symphony 1.3 press release states:

IBM Unleashes New Symphony for Millions of Microsoft Office Customers

IBM (NYSE: IBM) is offering millions of companies and consumers the chance to save hundreds of dollars on each of their Microsoft Office licenses by providing support for Microsoft Office 2007 with the newest version of Lotus Symphony, IBM’s free of charge productivity software suite. This could translate into millions of dollars in savings at many large companies that are looking for financial relief in the current economy.

The ability to import Microsoft Office 2007 files into Symphony means that Microsoft Office customers can save on licensing costs by switching to Symphony while retaining access to, and easy use of, the contents of their Office files. Lotus Symphony version 1.3 is now available free of charge on the Web at http://www-01.ibm.com/software/lotus/products/symphony/. In addition, Symphony is shipped with every copy of Lotus Notes and Lotus Foundations software. View the Symphony video.

IBM’s alternative to Microsoft Office 2007 makes cost-free document software a legitimate option for many companies around the business world which want to realize cost-efficiencies in the current economic climate but require assurance of the quality and reliability of the technology.

In addition to adding support for Microsoft Office 2007 file formats, Lotus Symphony 1.3 offers DataPilot Table improvements that make it easy to drill down and analyze data. It also enhances mail merge and envelope printing for organizations that need simple, efficient ways to communicate with their customers. Symphony 1.3 also provides animation to add sizzle to presentations and interoperate with Microsoft PowerPoint presentations.

The new version of Symphony allows users to drag-and-drop plug-ins, extending its use to other business applications. For example, a new learning plug-in can be installed on the right sidebar to help people learn new Symphony capabilities in real-time use.

“IBM is delivering on its commitment to free businesses and consumers from having to pay licensing fees over and over just to access their own personal or company information,” said Kevin Cavanaugh, VP of Lotus Software. “Now, it will be much harder to justify paying Office licensing fees when you can preserve and access your Office documents for free using Lotus Symphony.”

Reducing fixed costs in challenging times is important to Cluttons, a partnership of chartered surveyors, founded in 1765. Through a network of offices in the U.K., Europe, Middle East, South Africa and the Caribbean, Cluttons offer a very wide range of professional property management, agency and consultancy services across the commercial and residential sectors, for both investors and occupiers. In recent years, Cluttons delivered Microsoft Windows desktop, including Microsoft Office, IBM Lotus Notes and business applications to its users via a virtualized environment based on Citrix. Now it plans to switch from Office to Symphony, used with Lotus Notes 8.5.

Mark Clemence, Cluttons IT Director, stated, “The opportunity to use fully supported office productivity tools as part of the deployment of Lotus Notes 8.5 was too good an opportunity to be missed. We plan to use the cost saving to further invest in Lotus productivity tool sets.”

Another Symphony customer, The John Lewis Partnership (JLP), owns the leading U.K. retail businesses Waitrose, John Lewis and Greenbee. All 69,000 of its permanent staff are partners who own 27 John Lewis department stores, 210 Waitrose supermarkets (www.waitrose.com), an online and catalogue business, johnlewis.com (www.johnlewis.com), a direct services company, Greenbee (www.greenbee.com), a production unit and a farm with nearly 6.9GBP billion in revenue in 2008.

JLP was determined to control costs within a competitive retail environment to deliver first-class service and products to John Lewis customers. It plans to deploy Symphony to approximately 8,000 employees. Providing Microsoft Office to all staff in John Lewis Department Stores was evaluated, but determined to be cost-prohibitive.

Recently Italian food distributor Gruppo Amadori began converting its 6,000 employees to Symphony on Linux desktops from an Office and Windows environment as part of a cost-control strategy. The IBM Linux desktop includes Lotus Notes, Lotus Sametime and Lotus Quickr in addition to Symphony.

New businesses are forming around the rising demand to migrate from Microsoft Office to Symphony. For example, Indellient (www.indellient.com), based in Montreal, Canada offers migration services such as Asset Conversion Inspector and Notes Integration Inspector which can help larger organizations understand their Microsoft Office dependencies. Indellient is also providing products specifically for the small-medium business market and the Lotus business partner channel with Web-based Document Conversion Services and Personalized Template Packs. These services allow SMB business partners to offer their customers an easy and cost-effective set of business automated templates, for an efficient and professional look and feel to their communications.

Download Symphony 1.3 from symphony.lotus.com.

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!