Despite some early criticism that it wasn't much to write home about, it appears that IBM's free office suite, Lotus Symphony, is off to a decent start. The company says the software snagged 100,000 registered users in the first week.
No matter the release's strengths or weaknesses, IBM is working to adapt traditional software to a Web 2.0-dominated enterprise -- in part by integrating Symphony with previously released Lotus collaboration and blogging tools.
IDC analyst Melissa Webster told BusinessWeek that Symphony represents a paradigm shift because, unlike a lot of free and/or open source solutions, Symphony tests and acts like commercial enterprise software -- "and it's free."
The story doesn't really address concerns other analysts have with the software, namely that it doesn't include calendar and e-mail functions. It points out, however, that a Mac OS X-compatible version of the software reportedly will be available in 2008.
As for the community-development aspect, BusinessWeek notes:
These developers, who also pay attention to users' personal blogs, look for patterns in the requests. When new features are deemed necessary, they'll be fed into the development queue to hone the design of the product. [IBM collaboration general manager Mike] Rhodin says he is confident that by the time Symphony is officially launched (sometime in 2008), user input will have significantly changed the product's functionality, look and feel.
Maybe "user input" will convince IBM that calendar and e-mail functions are necessary ...