Expanding its efforts to offer an alternative to Microsoft's Office desktop applications, IBM is making its free Lotus Symphony office productivity suite available for Apple's Mac OS X and Canonical's Ubuntu Linux.
IBM announced the expanded platform support this week at the OpenOffice.org Conference in Beijing in a keynote speech by Michael Karasick, director of IBM Lotus China Development Labs. IBM also unveiled a roadmap for Symphony for 2009 that includes developing the application set entirely on the OpenDocument Format 1.2 and OpenOffice 3.0 code base and adding more than 60 new features to the software.
More than 3 million copies of Symphony, which debuted in September 2007 as a public beta, have been downloaded worldwide in 28 languages, IBM said. Symphony includes document, spreadsheet and presentation applications.
The beta version of Symphony for Mac OS X marks the first time the software has been available for Apple computers. It will initially be available in English with other languages to follow as the software gets closer to general availability. IBM announced that the version for Ubuntu 8.0.4 Linux is now generally available. IBM said support for the two operating platforms have been among the top requests from the Symphony user community.
IBM said building Symphony entirely on the ODF 1.2 and OpenOffice 3.0 code bases would provide "seamless interoperability" with Microsoft Office 2007 file formats and support for Visual Basic macros in 2009. Developers can add capabilities to Symphony using Eclipse-based plug-ins. Symphony is part of IBM's Open Collaboration Client Solution which also includes Lotus Notes e-mail and Lotus Sametime instant messaging client software.
Thursday, at the Beijing conference, IBM and Sun Microsystems unveiled the OpenDocument Format Toolkit for building applications around the XML-based ODF standard, a file format for electronic office documents. The toolkit includes software code from Sun, including an API for reading, writing and manipulating ODF documents, according to IBM. The two vendors are also launching an open-source software community around the toolset called the ODF Toolkit Union.