The idea is that Apache will fold this code into its own open source office suite OpenOffice, on which Symphony was based. IBM wants to see OpenOffice get stronger against Microsoft's Windows.
Using OpenOffice as a starting point, IBM first released Symphony in 2007 as a free alternative for enterprises to Microsoft's office suite.
IBM's plan is that customers will use the free Symphony instead of Microsoft Office, and other commercial office suites, and reallocate money they previously earmarked for these paid offerings to advanced IBM services and software.
The Apache Foundation will form a project team around Symphony, and IBM will continue to contribute to the project, as well as maintain their own version of Symphony. Big Blue said while it was happy to help out, it did not want to do it alone.
Apache's methods will be better suited for both OpenOffice and Symphony than IBM's own efforts an IBM spokesman said.
The 3 million lines of code IBM developed and maintained for Symphony could potentially offer a lot of value for OpenOffice. Some of the code provides advanced compatibility with ODF (Open Document Format), so that ODF documents can be used in Web-based office suites, as well as by Microsoft Office.