Few will argue that Microsoft Office is the dominant player in the office applications realm with its Word, Excel and PowerPoint applications. Open source applications that are comparable to Microsoft Office have been available for a long time now from sources like OpenOffice.org.
However, OpenOffice has never really been a threat to Microsoft’s Office suite of software, which is Microsoft’s number two moneymaker right behind the Windows operating system. The open source movement is gaining another big proponent, however, now that IBM that plans to push OpenOffice software alongside Google and Sun.
IBM is offering a free suite of applications developed from source code used in OpenOffice called IBM Lotus Symphony. Lotus Symphony will be available for download directly from the IBM website and will include components that directly compete against Word, Excel and PowerPoint.
While IBM engineers have been working with OpenOffice technology prior to the announcement of Lotus Symphony, IBM announced that they will have 35 full-time programmers working on the project and will contribute code to the OpenOffice initiative.
IBM made a similar move when it first backed the open source operating system Linux with its engineers and marketing dollars as an alternative to the market leading Windows Server operating systems. Linux now competes head to head with Microsoft in the server OS arena thanks in part to IBM and its Linux marketing push.
quote: It's a classic academic marketing play that's been used by various companies for years.