As the title says, IBM has just released it's new office suite, Lotus Symphony free of charge. When I first read about this announcement myself, it brought back memories of IBM's classic "Lotus Smart Suite 9.5" office package, which was often installed when you brought your Windows 98 based PC. Sadly Lotus Smart Suite slowly faded away as Microsoft Office started to gain popularity, and is now virtually unheard of anymore.
IBM Lotus Symphony on the other hand, is something completely different, it's actually based on the popular free Open Office office suite. So basically "under the hood" it's still Open Office, with a fresh new look and additional features added by IBM. The good thing also, is that IBM is donating a lot of it's changes back into Open Office, so IBM is also helping Open Office along in the process. Lotus Symphony is available both for Windows as well as Linux.
Being based on Open Office, it also uses the popular Open Document file format (ODT), a free and open document standard that is now shared between many other office suites. You can still import your Microsoft Word DOC files off course, and export to DOC format too. One of the big advantages of using open standard document formats such as Open Document, is because the specification to the format is open, your documents are guaranteed to still be readable by software 20-30 years from now, which closed source formats/software cannot always guarantee.
Have a look at the screenshots if you like, on the Lotus Symphony website, or download it if you want to try it out. If you already have Microsoft Office installed, don't worry, you can run both programs on one PC no problem.