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Big Blue’s 20,000-strong techies have been advised to ditch Microsoft Office and use open standards software such as Lotus Symphony instead.

IBM chief information officer Mark Hennessey and veep Gina Poole issued a memo yesterday urging the firm’s staff to take “a new, more integrated approach to desktop productivity software", reports the Irish Times.

The memo doesn’t explicitly mention Office but it does subtly put the boot into rival Microsoft by noting that Symphony’s use of Open Document Format (ODF) "makes digital information independent from the program in which it was created… allowing information to be used in new, innovative ways".

Lotus is of course an IBM subsidiary, so it’s hardly surprising to see the company punting its own products to its army of employees.

IBM’s also clearly taking a swipe at Microsoft’s market dominance in the office market, where it holds a huge 90 per cent share.

In recent months Microsoft’s office suite and document formats have been subjected to considerable scrutiny from a number of different organisations, government agencies and individuals, many of whom have been baying for Redmond blood.

Just last week, in the lastest Open Office XML (OOXML) twist, the International Standardisation Organisation (ISO) confirmed that the publication of the contentious specification would be delayed.

That followed complaints from four national standards bodies – Brazil, India, South Africa and Venezuela – that issued formal appeals against the approval of OOXML as an international standard.

Meanwhile, the European anti-trust Commissioner Neelie Kroes has also continued to grumble about Microsoft’s dominant sway over the software market.

On Tuesday she urged businesses and governments to use software based on open standards.

“I know a smart business decision when I see one – choosing open standards is a very smart business decision indeed,” said Kroes. “No citizen or company should be forced or encouraged to choose a closed technology over an open one.”

We asked IBM if it could tell us more about the firm’s in-house marketing drive to convince its staff to stop using Microsoft goods. However a spokesman told El Reg that Big Blue “does not comment on internal communications”. ®

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