IBM says that it will release Lotus Symphony as free software in a bid to damage Microsoft's hold on the market with Office.
The programs will be available as free downloads from the IBM Web site. The program will be a direct competition for Word, Excel and PowerPoint, and the software will be developed in a consortium called OpenOffice.org.
IBM executives say the move will be like the push it gave Linux, the open-source operating system.
IBM is also joining forces with Google, which offers the open-source desktop productivity programs as part of its Google Pack of software.
Google supports the same document formats in its online word processor and spreadsheet service.