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A day with Symphony September 19, 2007

Posted by rjdohnert in Opinions.
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IBM Lotus Symphony that is.  After I spent a little more than 12 hours testing this software on a wide variety of documents, presentations and spreadsheets.  My verdict.  Still mixed.  It has a pretty good interface.  Its based on Eclipse with some OpenOffice.org 1.1 mixed in there so performance is lacking.  On some of my documents the software would crash.  When trying to export to PDF in some cases graphics wouldnt show up nor would charts.  Load times are slow, start it and go make breakfast slow, and the app would have trouble refreshing itself when switching virtual desktops using Microsofts VDM powertoy.  When using the quickview instead of showing documents it would show my web pages that I had open in IE 7.

What I really like about this software is the tabbed interface.  When working on multiple documents it was fairly easy to switch to and from and for people that collaborate this can be a useful feature.  The Open button on the bar is also a nice touch instead of having to hit file –> open, you have that quick access.  Another thing I like is the colorscheme.  Its pleasant and easy on th eyes and not distracting at all.  I was pretty much able to jump in and start working.  The biggest curve was in the presentation application.  This is the one thing that doesnt look at all like PowerPoint and none of the tools are in the right place.

Overall, I dont see this as an office killer.  For people with tight budgets and want free software from a reputable company this may be successful.  This may even be popular for home users and OEMs can preload this instead of that damn Office 2007 trial.  Windows 2000 users tho are out of luck and are stuck with OpenOffice.org.  When Works 9 is released we will see the supported platforms and the system resources it takes as well as how intrusive the ad system will be in Works 9.  Symphony may not be my first choice of Office apps but it brings some competition and thats always a good thing.  Please do not though, this is beta software when the final version is released we will see what if any improvements are made.  From my testing IBM cant possible screw it up more.  Seriously, lets hope not.

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