Integrated software

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Integrated software is software for personal computers that combines the most commonly used functions of many productivity software programs into one application.

The integrated software genre has been largely overshadowed by fully functional office suites, most notably Microsoft Office, but at one time was considered the "killer application" type responsible for the rise and dominance of the IBM PC in the desktop business computing world.[1]

In the early days of the PC before GUIs became common, user interfaces were text-only and were operated mostly by function key and modifier key sequences. Every program used a different set of keystrokes, making it difficult for a user to master more than one or two programs. Programs were loaded from floppy disk, making it very slow and inconvenient to switch between programs and difficult or impossible to exchange data between them (to transfer the results from a spreadsheet to a word processor document for example). In response to these limitations, vendors created multifunction "integrated" packages, eliminating the need to switch between programs and presenting the user with a more consistent interface.

The convenience of an all-in-one purchase as well as the potential for greater ease-of-use made integrated software attractive to home markets as well as business, and packages such as the original AppleWorks for the Apple II and Jane for the Commodore 128 were developed in the 1980s to run on most popular home computers of the day. Commodore even produced the Plus/4 computer with a simple integrated suite built into ROM.

Context MBA was an early example of the genre, and featured spreadsheet, database, chart-making, word processing and terminal emulation functions. However, because it was written in Pascal for portability, it ran slowly on the relatively underpowered systems of the day. Lotus 1-2-3, which followed it, had fewer functions but was written in x86 assembler, providing it with a speed advantage that allowed it to become the predominant business application for personal computers in the 1980s.[2]

Perhaps Framework and Symphony represented the peak of integrated software products.[3]

However, reports of the death of integrated software under Windows were exaggerated. Claris moved its integrated program to Windows and called it ClarisWorks for Windows.[4]

The integrated software market of today is exemplified by entry-level programs such as Microsoft Works (obsolescent) which are often bundled with PCs as "starter" productivity suites, as well as by web apps such as Google Docs.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Lee Pender (November 1998). "Lotus 1-2-3". Ten Revolutionaries of Computing. Computer Reseller News. Retrieved 2007-12-21. 
  2. ^ "Whatever Happened to Context MBA?". Dvorak Uncensored. Retrieved 2007-12-21. 
  3. ^ Rosch, Winn L. (January 22, 1985). "Can Integrated Software Coexist with Windows?". PC Magazine. 
  4. ^ Keizer, Gregg (June 29, 1993). "ClarisWorks Has a Document Approach". PC Magazine.