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ORLANDO, FL–At Lotusphere 2012, IBM unveiled the beta version of its next iteration of IBM Docs, formerly known as Lotus Symphony.

Available now on Greenhouse, the cloud-based set of social document editors includes a suite of office-productivity applications such as a word processor, spreadsheet and presentation tool. IBM Docs was designed to help teams share files, collaborate effectively and improve productivity, said Jeanette Barlow, product manager at IBM, in an interview with eWEEK. Users can store documents in IBM SmartCloud Engage, previously named LotusLive Engage, and can use the software as a lightweight document management program, Barlow said.

The software is based on OpenOffice. When Apache releases the next version of OpenOffice, slated for release in the second-half of 2012, IBM will ship IBM Docs, a pack of connectors for the open-based software.

This is not Lotus Symphony, she said. This was built from the ground up.

The cloud productivity office computing market is expected to reach sales of $17 billion by 2016, compared with $3.3 billion in 2009, according to WinterGreen Research. At first, IBM Docs will be available in the public cloud, but that will change.

We also recognize that there is interest in private cloud deployment of such tools, in conjunction with IBM Connections. IBM is working with key design customers to deploy private cloud implementations this year as well, and we expect to broaden that approach in the next year, wrote Ed Brill, director, product line management, at IBM in a blog. To help employees keep documents moving, IBM Docs allows people to work openly or privately, and to assign all or part of a file to team members. The software shows all a document s versions, enabling employees to track usage and changes.

Simplicity is key, IBM executives said.

We re designing this to be a low barrier to usage, Barlow said. In other words, don t make it complicated.

Activities or tasks created in a document to edit a file or research additional information, for example are tracked in each user s to-do list, she said.

The current beta does not support Object Grouping or OLE objects, but IBM plans to add this support in the future, Barlow said.

Although Microsoft Office has a commanding lead in this space, there are employees and users who do not require the full-feature capabilities of that suite and don t need the related management and training costs, she said.

There is one class of user where desktop software over-serves them, Barlow said. They work in business applications, mainly. I think they can replace the cost of managing desktop software.

Other potential users include users who will use IBM Docs for all but the final version of their documents, spreadsheets or presentations because of the collaborative nature of their work, she said.

Everything I create is team-based, Barlow said. I don t want to track multiple document versions.

The beta release is available now on Greenhouse, IBM Docs is a completely cloud-based set of social document editors — word processor, spreadsheet, presentation tool — that are focused on the needs of teams to share and improve productivity, both inside and outside the firewall. IBM Docs authors will be able to store documents in IBM SmartCloud Engage (formerly LotusLive Engage), co-edit documents in real time or assign users sections of the document so they can work privately easing the management of  multiple revisions from multiple authors in team-based documents.


To read the original eWeek article, click here: IBM Showcases Beta for IBM Docs , Next Gen of Collaborative Suite of Office Business Tools