People are already tuning in to IBM's Symphony, the IT giant has said. It reported that its free rival to Microsoft's Office suite was downloaded 100,000 times in the first week of release.
"To be honest, we were surprised at the speed with which people jumped on this," said Mike Rhodin, general manager of both IBM Collaboration and Lotus Software. To keep up with the number of people interested in downloading Symphony, IBM tripled the number of download servers it had for the suite of productivity applications in the first few days of its release, he said.
At first, users had to sign up for an IBM ID and password and enter identity information to download the first beta of Symphony, a free suite of office productivity applications made available last Tuesday, but users complained that this process was "too onerous," Rhodin said. IBM tweaked the process so now all people need to get Symphony is a valid e-mail address.
Because of this, it's been hard to track whether it is consumers or businesses that are downloading Symphony, he said. But IBM is less interested in who is using the software than in getting it into as many hands as possible, Rhodin said.
Symphony is based on OpenOffice.org and the Eclipse framework, and is meant not only to give consumers and businesses an alternative to Microsoft Office but also to promote the use of Open Document for XML (ODF), an XML-based standard for documents approved by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). "The end goal here is the proliferation of the open standard," Rhodin said.
Microsoft Office 2007, which has more than 90% market share, does not natively support ODF and instead uses the company's Open XML (OOXML) format, which failed to pass a recent ISO vote for standardization.