IBM's Symphony hitting the wrong notes, say reviewers

Suite not kind to bloggers' computers; bloggers return the favor

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But early reviews for Symphony, gleaned by searching blogs via the Technorati Web site, indicate that IBM may have an uphill struggle trying to convince users.

One common complaint concerns Symphony's system load. Symphony requires 1GB of RAM and 900MB of hard drive space. In contrast, the Windows version of the latest OpenOffice, Version 2.3, requires just 128MB of RAM and half the disk space. The standard version of Microsoft Office 2007 requires 256MB of RAM and 1.5GB of hard disk space.

Besides taking up more system resources, said testers, Symphony also loads and runs slowly.

"I don't have the pokiest PC on the block, but in order to make [Symphony] run at any speed at all, you'd need to have a bit of grunt in your PC," wrote Stewart Russell on his "We Saw A Chicken..." blog. "My VIA SP13000 box takes a couple of minutes just to bring up the main window."

Simon Dickson, who blogs at "I'm Simon Dickson," acknowledged that Symphony is "prettier" than OpenOffice and "seems to include a few innovations" that OpenOffice lacks. His main beef was that Symphony "automatically snatched all the relevant file associations away from my OpenOffice installation," he wrote. "For me, with a product that is so clearly in beta, and only of interest to the sort of early-adopters who will already be running OpenOffice, this is utterly unforgivable. How dare [blogger's emphasis] they do this?"

IBM's Harbison said "the decision to have Symphony assume default application status" is "not final."

Slim pickings, sharp words

For now, Symphony includes three components: a word processor, a spreadsheet program and a presentation maker.

In contrast, the OpenOffice 2.3 suite includes eight applications, and through an "extensions" framework that Symphony lacks, the possibility for many more mini-apps.

A reviewer at Jensenius.org is hoping that time would prove Symphony's friend, writing that while "OpenOffice is probably the better product... I really would prefer to use Symphony. I hope that by the time I'm ready/forced to switch away from Microsoft, IBM will have this thing a little bit more functional and ready to go."

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