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Lotus Symphony 3.0.1

IBM releases a new and much improved version of its freebie office suite

by Nick Peers

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License: Freeware
Operating Systems: Linux, Mac OS X, Windows 7 (32 bit), Windows 7 (64 bit), Windows Vista (32 bit), Windows Vista (64 bit), Windows XP
Requirements:

Windows: XP requires SP3, Vista requires SP2; Mac: Intel processor and Mac OS X 10.5 or later; Linux: SuSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 11, RedHat Enterprise Linux 5 Update 4, Ubuntu 8.04 

Languages: English
Software Cost: Free
Date Updated: 18 January 2012
Watchlist: Add download to my watchlist
Downloads To Date: 18728
Developer: IBM Corporation
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IBM Lotus Symphony 3 - the complete Office compatible office suite
Lotus Symphony 3 is a powerful office suite available free of charge

After around eight months in beta, Lotus Symphony 3.0 has finally made it to a final release. This free alternative to Microsoft Office is based on the open-source OpenOffice, but throws in some useful features of its own to make it stand out from the crowd. These include support for VBA scripts to tempt professional users to switch to Symphony (and then pay for the cloud-based LotusLive collaboration services), plus plug-ins that enable you to extend Symphony’s usability in the directions you wish it to go.

Symphony offers three tools: a word-processor, spreadsheet and presentations tool, all of which are accessible through a single program window – documents appear as tabs, enabling you to switch between them quickly and easily. Symphony also features a built-in web browser, which gives you easy access to plug-ins and other useful functions.

The three major tools do everything expected of them – although files are saved in the OpenDocument format, all three programs can also work with native Office formats (including the latest formats found in Office 2007 and 2010). The ribbon interface found in Office is replaced by a vertical sidebar on the right of the screen. This is divided into sections, giving you access to all the various tools found in each program.

A lot has changed since version 1.3 was released – a full list of new features can be found at the Symphony website - but there’s not a lot that could be described as revolutionary, particularly to those brought up on a diet of Office or OpenOffice. However, these new features are essential in order to ensure Lotus Symphony has a fighting chance of attracting people to switch from competing products, and with more plug-ins on the way, it seems its expandability and versatility could prove to be a big attraction going forward.

Verdict:

A vast improvement on the previous release, Lotus Symphony is rapidly closing the gap between it and its immediate competition.

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Spotlight: Free Full Software

Spektrel Art 1.0.0

Free Full Commercial Software

Spektrel Art is a stand-alone program and Photoshop plugin which transforms digital photos into "magical art that glimmers and gleams with intersecting lines of tapered light".

What does that mean? Essentially it applies a configurable mix of effects, enhancing edges, smoothing backgrounds and emphasizing colours. Take a look at the thumbnail for one example, and the official product page has more.

Spektral Art works much like any similar tool. Open an image, click one of the thumbnails to apply a particular preset, or click a few buttons and drag some sliders to fine-tune the results.

There's surprising scope for variation, too. For example, just switching from the "Light" to "Dark" theme can transform a bright and friendly image into something dark and sinister, at least in some cases (results vary depending on the source image).

Please note, the demo version doesn't allow images to be saved.

SPECIAL OFFER: as we write, the developer is offering Spektral Art for free. The offer expires August 29th. Please note that you must provide your name, address and phone number to receive your free license.

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