Earlier today, IBM Lotus released Symphony 3.0, a major new version of the OpenOffice-based desktop productivity editors.  Symphony 3.0 features major improvements in usability, integration, programmability, and compatibility.

Image:Lotus Symphony 3.0 now available

One thing hasn't changed from earlier versions of Lotus Symphony -- it's still free.  While Microsoft somehow thinks it's OK to conceive of new ways to gouge customers for Microsoft Office, we believe that desktop productivity -- at least the model of installing discrete applications for word processing, spreadsheets, and presentations -- should have commoditized long ago, and freed company budgets from the thousands of dollars per user paid in the last ten years to continue to use -- yep -- a word processor, spreadsheet, and presentation tool.  There's no sense in having the corporate world pay for all of Microsoft's money-losing consumer businesses -- and I've been proudly and entirely Microsoft-free for 18 months now.

Some of the new features include VBA macro support -- one of the main barriers in users switching from Excel; creation of business cards and labels; nested tables; multi-monitor support for presentations; a new chart engine and more.  For a full list of new features, click here.

The new version has taken a while to percolate.  We went through a line-by-line effort to move to the OpenOffice 3 codebase, and in many cases, improve upon it.  We continue to contribute back work to OpenOffice.org, and we will be basing the next version of Symphony (a 3.x release in 2011) on some of that work.

In parallel, there is increased attention to an effort we announced at Lotusphere 2010, IBM Project "Concord".  Coming soon via LotusLive Labs, "Concord" takes the focus up a level to the collaborative nature of document editing, instead of revolving around the document itself.  Capabilities include concurrent editing, sectioning, live tables, in-line comments and more.  Watch for more on "Concord" soon.

To download the new version of Lotus Symphony, visit symphony.lotus.com >

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