Symphony Thursday: New Widgets Released

September 10 2009

IBM has sent out a press release announcing new widgets for Lotus Symphony:

Contact: Mike Azzi

IBM Communciations

914-766-1561

azzi@us.ibm.com

 
IBM Now Offering Microsoft Customers Lotus Symphony Software

with Popular Widgets

ARMONK, NY, September 10, 2009 ---  IBM is now offering Microsoft customers free of charge Lotus Symphony software that is compatible with Microsoft Office formats and supports a wide range of widgets which extend the functionality of the software.  IBM and a variety of third parties -- including independent software vendors, individual developers, customers and IBM business partners -- are writing a variety of widgets to take advantage of this new feature. 

 

Popularized by consumer Web sites and third parties, widgets allow Symphony users to tap into everything from Web-based Google Gadgets, Lotus Sametime, Lotus Quickr, Lotus Connections and popular wikis, to Microsoft SharePoint and MSN, all from within Symphony.  Users can easily drag-and-drop widgets directly into Lotus Symphony, distinguishing it from static office productivity tools such as Microsoft Word. This drag-and-drop feature also makes Symphony stand out from other Microsoft Office alternatives, simplifying the use and installation of widgets with just a single click.

Widgets extend Symphony's capabilities through two commonly-accepted open standards -- Eclipse and Java. Due to their cross-platform nature, Symphony widgets are developed once and run across Symphony's document, presentation and spreadsheet applications. This lowers the cost to bring new capabilities to end users. In contrast, new applications must be built separately for Microsoft Word, Microsoft Office and Microsoft PowerPoint.

IBM Lotus Symphony leads a growing class of Microsoft Office alternatives, with millions of copies in circulation. The first full version of Symphony appeared on June 3, 2008.

"Today there are more innovative, open alternatives such as Symphony that compare favorably to Microsoft Office," said Bob Picciano, general manager, IBM Lotus Software. "Symphony's open collaboration model can offer businesses limitless options -- cost-effectively -- at a time when many organizations are increasingly concerned about investing in Microsoft Office."

Among the more popular widgets supported for Symphony are cloud-based Google Gadgets, such as the Currency Converter Gadget which shows equivalent monetary values; the Unit Converter Gadget, which translates units of measurement; and the Wikipedia Gadget, which provides instant access to information on Wikipedia. These widgets, and many others, are accessible directly from within Symphony.

IBM is also debuting new widgets designed to extend Symphony from office productivity to interactive collaboration. They include:

 

·          The Lotus Symphony Learning Widget, which blends local and cloud-based learning resources at an individual's fingertips to help users quickly master the full range of Symphony capabilities.

·          Team Workspace Widgets, which help people access and work with documents from the most popular tools, including Microsoft SharePoint and Lotus Quickr.

·          A new ChartShare Widget, which enables instant sharing of an individual's screen with from one to 20 people to view a presentation file. To edit and co-create charts, users can launch a Sametime Unyte Live meeting in a single click from within Symphony. This widget demonstrates how to seamlessly blend rich client and cloud computing. It also provides presence awareness and instant messaging capability in side shelf for anyone who has been a contributor to a presentation.

·          Symphony 2 Wiki Widgets, which are two new widgets that plug into Symphony to create rich Wiki content inside of Symphony and convert the content for publishing to wikis such as Confluence Wiki and Mediawiki.

·          Treasure Box, which allows Symphony to keep on hand links to frequently used documents, graphics and applications and insert them directly into a user's presentation, for example, without exiting Symphony. This widget essentially makes a "favorites" list right within Symphony for several file types, including presentations, documents, graphics and applications.

·          The Export Graphic Widget, which enables users to export graphics, shapes, and charts they create in Symphony to files in common formats such as .gif, .jpeg, .png, .bmp, helping them save time by reusing their visual, creative content.


Consumers, students, businesses, governments, universities and non-profit organizations around the world have saved many millions of dollars using IBM Lotus Symphony. While Symphony is free of charge to download and use by consumers and organizations, large businesses can opt to buy contracts for help desk support for a flat fee of just over $26,000 per year -- which still represents a significant savings over a Microsoft Office licensing agreement. Depending upon the environment, Lotus Symphony could save a company millions of dollars in software license fees or software renewal fees.

It the most recent version, Lotus Symphony 1.3, enhancements were added such as support for Microsoft Office 2007 file formats.   This allows most Office users to easily access and transfer company information into Symphony or work seamlessly with a Microsoft user. Symphony also has DataPilot (also known as pivot table) improvements that allow people to easily drill down and analyze data. In addition, new Mail merge and envelope printing enhancements will appeal to organizations that need cost-effective ways to correspond with customers.

Lotus Symphony is also packaged with Lotus Notes and Lotus Foundations with support already included, at no extra charge. Symphony is available on a wide range of devices and platforms, including Apple Macintosh, Microsoft Windows, Ubuntu Linux, Red Hat Linux and Suse Linux.

 

IBM Lotus Symphony software provides word processing documents, spreadsheets and presentations -- effectively replacing Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel and Microsoft Powerpoint. It can be downloaded free of charge at http://symphony.lotus.com/software/lotus/symphony/home.nsf/home



I will cover each plug-in later today in individual posts. (updated to final version per IBM PR)

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