IBM is to start offering a free word processing application and other office suite software in a bid to take on Microsoft Office.

IBM's new Lotus Symphony suite will offer document, spreadsheet and presentation software, the firm says. Lotus Symphony can be downloaded free of charge now, and includes three core applications: Lotus Symphony Documents, Lotus Symphony Spreadsheets and Lotus Symphony Presentations.

Google is already offering a free alternative to Microsoft's paid-for Office suite in its collection of software called Google Apps.