Archive for the ‘IBM’ Category

September

24

by Kaj Kandler

Really, would you eat a can of SPAM that is past its expiration date? Well, I would possibly in an emergency, but not as a regular exercise. Why, because expiration dates on food are predictions and most often nothing really bad happened. It is a safety net that the producer is required to provide so that the consumer and the distributer can check a product for freshness and avoid old and potentially dangerous food.

But what have food expiration dates to do with software. There is no software expiration date, or is there? Well, basically every new release of an application should expire the older version. And in case of a new installation you won’t install the older version, if you can have access to the latest and greatest, or would you?

Some bloggers have tried IBM’s new Lotus Symphony office suite that is based on Open Office. Well, they found out LotusSymphony is based on a rather outdated release 1.X of OOo.

I can’t imagine how a company like IBM thinks it can be at all competitive with a product based on three year old code that has many known bugs and performance problems.

This discovery really begs the question what are the 35 developers that IBM assigned to work on the Open Office open source project are going to do? Have they been involved in repackaging and rebranding this OOo distribution? Are they trained in the technology of 2004/2005? What will be their contribution, if they are not up to date with the latest OOo release?

September

18

by Kaj Kandler

Today, IBM released Lotus Symphony, its version of OpenOffice.org as a free offering to business, government and consumer users.

The productivity suite is free to download. Interestingly the website only presents three applications, “Documents”, “Presentations” and “Spreadsheets.” The Database functionality of OpenOffice.org is apparently missing. The Suite supports Windows XP or Vista and Linux RedHat or Novell SuSE. A discussion about MAC OS X support has already started in the support forums.

Lotus Symphony does naturally support ODF and also can read and write the Microsoft Office formats most of the time. The latest MS OOXML is not yet supported.

Unfortunately this is another species in the jungle called Open Office eco-system.

P.S.: If you are PC veteran, you might remember the Lotus Symphony for DOS, which included Lotus 1-2-3. This is not the same!

September

14

by Kaj Kandler

Really, what would Dan Heintzman, the director of strategy at Lotus, say about IBM joining the OpenOffice.org community? Andy Undergrove wondered too and interviewed Dan Heintzman from Lotus. Dan makes some interesting points, including:

  • IBM hopes to signal its commitment to ODF and the OpenOffice.org to IT managers that are not sure how long this technology will last. he mentions the $1 Billion invetment tha tIBM announced for Linux way back. However, I must have missed an announcement that impressive or any direct number at all.
  • He acknowledges that there have been tensions between Sun Microsystems and IBM over community governance and that IBM’s announcement means IBM will help to make change in the governance structure of the OpenOffice community happen.
  • Dan’s vision of a document is a container that brings elements toghether, but retains their source. It is more a collage of text, graphics, data then the coherent print form we often think of. He thinks ODF is a viable platform to start this transformation.
  • Dan dodges the speculation if IBM would add an e-mail/calendar program to the Open Office suite.

September

10

by Kaj Kandler

Most users know that Sun Microsystems is the main force behind OpenOffice.org and its development community. Historically they did buy StarDivision and release Open Office as open source. Today, IBM announced to commit to the OpenOffice.org development community with a team of 35 developers in China working full time on the project. IBM also contributed today a chunk of code making the open source office suite more accessible for users with disabilities.

While IBM has developed the accessibility interface called iAccessible2 for a while and also supported ODF (ISO 26300) in its Lotus Notes products, this announcement is a long term commitment to develop OpenOffice.org as a competitive suite.

May

15

by Kaj Kandler

On Sunday, Brad Smith, Microsoft’s general council, gave an interview to Fortune magazine, where he alleged that OpenOffice.org violates 45 Microsoft patents. The article is about the general assertion that various open source project violate 235 patents where Microsoft claims to be the inventor. However, Microsoft chooses not to name which are the patents or the alleged infringements.

The article shines a broader light on the issues with software patents and gives an informative summary about the Novell/Microsoft deal from late last year. It also exposes some of the conditions that Richard Stallmann, the most ardent defender of open source, puts on journalists in order to grant an interview.

In short Microsoft scares people about alleged patents it holds that are violated by open source projects. It even claims that it made already secret deals with some fortune 500 companies to license these patents. This tactic reminds me of the SCO claim that Linux infringes on its Unix patent portfolio. Under scrutiny of the courts and especially IBM’s ability to deal with patent claims it evaporated into nothing. We will have to see if Microsoft has more legs to stand on. In the mean time one should not be scared, such risks are everywhere.