Gartner: Lotus Symphony No Competition for Microsoft Office

Sep 28, 2007

IBM's Lotus Symphony will be unable to break the dominance of Microsoft's Office package according to market researchers Gartner. Open Office still has too many deficits for enterprise use, they say, and the future belongs to Web-based office and collaboration solutions.

In its analysis, Gartner assumes that IBM is aiming to shake up Microsoft's market dominance in office applications with Lotus Symphony. Microsoft Office is widespread and corporations need full compatibility, which Open Office does not guarantee, according to the market researchers. In the long term the institute believes that Web 2.0 applications will prove the more serious competitor to Microsoft, stating that it would take too long for the Open Office project to benefit significantly from IBM's contribution.

Due to its 10-year support guarantee for office products, Microsoft has bred a moment of inertia into its products that prevents the use of Open Document solutions in corporations. Various functions that are only available in MS Office and the lack of compatibility between document formats are the other factors that make MS Office so reticent. Lotus Symphony relies on the Open Office word processing, spreadsheet and presentations software modules, as Linux Magazine reported. IBM thus supports the free ODF with its free Lotus Symphony Office Suite.

Interest in the Open Document Standard is likely to increase, and Gartner's IT strategists cite the OOXML flop as the major reason for this. Barrier-free use as advertised by IBM may cause authorities to move to Open Office in future, as this deficit was a major obstacle in the past. And IBM's press release points to the excellent response the Symphony Suite has received in the first few weeks.

In the meantime, IBM's competitor has not been idle, and collaborative editing capabilities make Web applications a third alternative. This is the bigger threat to Microsoft, says the Gartner analysis, as Lotus Symphony does not offer enough in the line of benefits compared with Open Office.

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