IBM looks to poach Office users with free Symphony

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IBM looks to poach Office users with free Symphony

Big Blue hopes to gain share from Redmond's woes.

IBM is looking to a new promotion to convert Microsoft Office users to its Lotus Symphony productivity suite.

The company said on Thursday that it would be offering users the Symphony package along with a collection of plug-ins free of charge.

Microsoft users will be able to obtain the Symphony word processing, spreadsheet and presentation tools for Windows, MacOS and Linux systems. Large enterprises can also purchase licensing agreements at a discounted price.

IBM's aggressive new campaign comes as Microsoft faces legal challenges over the lynchpin of its Office suite. Canadian software firm i4i has accused Microsoft of violating its patents on XML components within the word processing application. The case nearly halted sales of Word within the US.

However, Big Blue maintains that the campaign is more about advocating Symphony's use of open standards than taking advantage of Microsoft's legal troubles.

"Today there are more innovative, open alternatives such as Symphony that compare favorably to Microsoft Office," said IBM Lotus general manager Bob Picciano.

"Symphony's open collaboration model can offer businesses limitless options cost-effectively at a time when many organisations are increasingly concerned about investing in Microsoft Office."

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