This Take Action Memo is written for Microsoft and offers advice on what to do, what to say about the IBM Lotus Symphony introduction.

What Happened?

IBM released the Lotus Symphony suite for personal productivity – word processor, spreadsheet and presentation editor for Windows. Price – free download. Telephone support costs extra.

What does this mean to customers?

Customers hate paying for features they don't need. Users hate using products that are overly complex. Microsoft Office is both of these. It forces users to pay for strange and wonderful features that they never use, and its complicated feature set delivers extraordinary power – far beyond the limits of the typical use of the application.

So, simpler costs less.  

What do I say?

People trust Microsoft Office. It's well known with well-understood quality. Which one feature can your users do without? 

What should Microsoft do?

Originally, I thought Microsoft should join Open Document Format and create a low priced (free may not be necessary) version of the Office with reduced features. They may still have to do this, but then I thought, well Microsoft is the only one of the big four in the space (Microsoft, IBM, Sun and Google) making money. So, do nothing is the best response for now. Being prepared to join the standard format, converting content from these free mechanisms into Microsoft formats is useful to Microsoft customers, and preparing an inexpensive Office-lite is appropriate.

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