IBM’s new Lotus Symphony

I’ve had a quick look at the beta of Lotus Symphony, IBM’s new Office suite. It’s built on the Eclipse Rich Client Platform (RCP), which is interesting in itself, and is another salvo in the office document format war.

Why would anyone want to use the new Symphony? I presume it makes some kind of sense in the context of an integrated workflow and collaboration platform based on Notes. Considered purely as an office suite, it does not yet come close to Microsoft Office, or even Open Office.

The FAQ claims some compatibility with “Microsoft Office files” (though there’s a long list of things that might not convert correctly), but studiously avoids any mention of the 2007 Microsoft Office document formats. It should say: compatibility with old Microsoft Office formats. Note that if you install Office 2007, save a document, and try to open it in Symphony, it will not work at all. Nor will Microsoft Office (any version) open Symphony documents, unless you take the trouble to export to a format other than Open Document. What a mess.

When I searched for Lotus Symphony on Google, I was amused to see what came third and fourth in the list:

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