Lotus Symphony Beta Startup

IBM has decided that it too wants to offer a free Office suite called Lotus Symphony, and after playing with it for just a short while I have to say that I’m very impressed with the route they have taken. For starters they are working off of the OpenOffice.org technology, which in its current state is leaps and bounds ahead of many Microsoft Office alternatives. IBM has added 35 full-time programmers to the project that will be contributing code, and therefore helping out the open source world!

As of right now IBM’s Lotus Symphony is only competing with Word, Excel, and PowerPoint by offering their own Documents, Spreadsheets, and Presentations apps. The first thing that I have to say is their naming scheme for their programs is sheer genius! There’s no guessing as to what "Documents" or "Presentations" is used for, and since they don’t have powerful names like PowerPoint behind them I think it was a good move to make it clear and decisive what the purpose of each app was.

Here’s what I like in IBM Lotus Symphony:

  • A single window is used for Documents, Spreadsheets, and Presentations
  • Tabs are really nice for people who find themselves frequently switching between multiple documents
  • Powerful sidebar keeps pop-up windows at bay
  • Nice, fresh looking icons used throughout the program
  • Online collaboration
  • Save documents as PDF’s
  • Web browser opens in a new tab

Here’s what I don’t like in IBM Lotus Symphony:

  • A bit slow compared to OpenOffice.org
  • Appears to be based on OpenOffice.org 1.x, instead of the newer OpenOffice.org 2.x
  • There seems to be an awful lot of submenus in the menus, which can make finding features difficult. There’s even a submenu for the "Open" command which only has one option in its submenu?
  • Does not support Microsoft Office 2007’s new file formats
  • Didn’t appear to be any themes for the Presentations app
  • I didn’t see any way to hide the tab bar, which does eat up quite a bit of room even if you’re only working on one document.

And finally, let’s wrap things up with some screenshots, requirements, and a few ways to download IBM Lotus Symphony without registering.

–Documents Screenshot–

Lotus Symphony Documents

–Spreadsheets Screenshot–

Lotus Symphony Spreadsheets

–Presentations Screenshot–

Lotus Symphony Presentations


  • Supported Windows platforms: Windows XP, Windows Vista
  • Supported Linux platforms: SLED 10, RHEL 5, Redhat5
  • 900MB disk space minimum (download is 134MB)
  • 1GB RAM memory minimum
  • US English locale

–Download IBM Lotus Symphony Without Registration–

To download the software you’ll need to register, which is a big pain in the butt! There are a few ways around that, and I thought I would share them with you:

  • Try using this direct download link for the Windows version. I just tested it and it seemed to work fine, but I don’t know how fast IBM will "refresh" the URL.
  • Use a bogus username and password, such as this one provided by BugMeNot:
    Username: noone@bugmetnot.com
    Password: letmein1234
  • Download it from Softpedia, but the speeds were slow when I tried them.

IBM Lotus Symphony Homepage [via New York Times]
Thanks for the tip Mohan!