In a nod to the need for openness and Microsoft's attempts to squash competitors, Lotus Symphony naturally includes support for the OpenDocument Format (ODF) which the open source world hopes will become the office document format of choice, although there's still a long way to go before that happens and formats like .doc and .docx are in the minority.
Aiming for a big a bang as possible, Symphony 1.2 has this week been released for Windows, Ubuntu, and Red Hat and SUSE. Mac users haven't been forgotten either, as a beta release of the Mac OS X version - a first for Apple's operating system - has also been made available.
Mac OS X support was among the top requests made by the members of the Symphony community, IBM officials said. Although the beta is only available in English, additional languages will be added by the time it reaches general availability, which is planned for the first quarter of 2009. Other versions of Symphony support 28 languages, so multi-lingual capability is clearly assured.
This week's releases include the first general availability version for Ubuntu 8.0.4 (Hardy Heron). Some may be disappointed that IBM didn't target 8.10 (intrepid Ibis) instead, but since that was released just days before Symphony 1.2 they can hardly complain.
According to Michael Karasick, Director of IBM Lotus China Development Labs, versions of Symphony scheduled for release in 2009 will be developed entirely on the ODF 1.2 and OpenOffice 3.0 code base.
Why choose Symphony over OpenOffice? Please read on.