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IBM hopes open office is Symphony to your key-tapping fingers

Targets rival Microsoft

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IBM has joined the growing group of tech companies punting alternatives to Microsoft's omnipresent Office suite.

Its new Lotus Symphony package, which launched yesterday, includes word processing, spreadsheet and presentation programs and is available free of charge to Windows and Linux users.

The software uses the internationally recognised Open Document Format (ODF) allowing documents to be read by multiple software apps, unlike the standard adopted by Microsoft whose range of office products restrict different file types to one system.

Just last week IBM joined the OpenOffice.org development community, kicking off its participation by donating code it has developed for its Lotus Notes project.

With the launch of Symphony, IBM has marked out clear intentions to grab a chunk of the market currently dominated by Microsoft.

IBM software's senior vice president Steve Mills said:

"The lifeblood of any organisation is contained in thousands of documents. With the Open Document Format, businesses can unlock their information, making it universally accessible on any platform and on the Web in highly flexible ways."

However, the firm is yet to bring an Apple Macintosh version of Symphony to the marketplace. ®

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