IBM to launch free office software suite

IBM has confirmed that it is planning to launch a free word processor application, in addition to other office productivity software, rejoining the growing market for office applications and going head-to-head with Microsoft, as well as numerous smaller challengers.

IBM said it would offer document, spreadsheet and presentation software in a group of tools called Lotus Symphony, a name originally used for a DOS-based office suite back in the early 90s.

This is not the first venture into budget office software for the company, which has previously offered its Lotus Smartsuite product at low-cost to PC makers looking to pre-install such software.

Microsoft's Office suite of products already faces some competition from online tools and open source rivals such as OpenOffice.

* Google has today unveiled a presentation tool which will be added to its Google Apps suite of hosted office applications.

The presentation tool, which is still in beta, will form part of Google Docs rather than being a standalone application, and will allow for the creation and display if basic presentation slides, as well as featuring integrated collaborative working tools based around Google's instant message technology.