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IBM Unleashes New Symphony for Millions of Microsoft Office Customers


IBM has given 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 IBM's Lotus Symphony no-charge productivity suite. This could translate into millions of dollars in savings in many large companies who are looking for financial relief in the current economy.

ebizQ received the following:

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 became generally available without charge on the Web in June 2008. In addition, Symphony is shipped with every copy of Lotus Notes and Lotus Foundations.

IBM's alternative to Microsoft Office 2007 makes cost-free document software a legitimate option for many companies around the business world who want to realize cost-efficiencies in the current economic climate but require assurance in 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 ability to drag-and-drop plug-ins that extend symphony's use to other business applications is another key feature of the new version. 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 our commitment to free businesses and consumers from having to pay for their own personal or company information over and over again," 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 in Symphony."

Reducing fixed costs in these challenging times is important to Cluttons, a partnership of chartered surveyors, founded in 1765. Through a network of offices in the UK, 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 its Microsoft Windows desktop, including Microsoft Office, IBM Lotus Notes and business applications via a virtualized environment based on Citrix. Now it plans to switch from Office to Symphony within 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 UK retail businesses Waitrose, John Lewis and Greenbee. All 69,000 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 £6.9 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 as cost -prohibitive.

Recently Italian food distributor Gruppo Amadori began converting its 6,000 employees to Symphony on Linux desktops from an Office, Windows environment as part of 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, 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 very cost-effective set of business automated templates for an efficient and professional look and feel to their communications.

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