Data Management

Guess the OS (Office Suite edition)

Usually when we play Guess The OS, we're talking about classic operating systems. This time OS refers to office suites. Here's an article from Home Office Computing. What office suite is being discussed? See if you can guess.

The Office Suite in question is Lotus SmartSuite. Specifically it's Lotus SmartSuite 3.o for OS/2. You can read the full article on BNET. It appeared in the March 1995 edition of Home Office Computing.

SmartSuite was Lotus's attempt to come up with a viable competitor to Microsoft Office. Lotus was one of the companies that got caught in the bait-and-switch maneuver that Microsoft pulled behind IBM's back when OS/2 2.o was under development.

While telling OEMs that the future was going to be with OS/2, Microsoft was secretly working on Windows 3.0. As soon as Windows 3.0 shipped and showed the slightest bit of traction, Microsoft split with IBM. OEMs who had spent years developing OS/2 software scrambled to come up with Windows 3.0 versions of their DOS success stories.

Unfortunately it didn't work. 123 for Windows, the centerpiece of SmartSuite, was a horrible port from OS/2 and wasn't nearly as successful as 123 on DOS. Ami Pro was a nearly unusable word processor that wasn't very intuitive and suffered from lag while typing.

The article here gives a glowing review of the OS/2 version. The OS/2 version was better than the Windows version, but it was the only viable office suite for OS/2, so there's little to compare it with.

At the time of the article, the main competitor was Micrsoft Office 4.2 on Windows 3.1.  Windows 95 and Office 95 were still a few months away. By the time Windows 95 launched, OS/2's fate was sealed.

Office 95, and especially Office 97, drove the final nails into the Lotus coffin. IBM wound up hauling off the body. IBM bought Lotus mostly to get a hold of Lotus Notes. However, it still continues to sell and support Lotus SmartSuite, currently at version 9.8. The current price is $298.

IBM also has a freeware office suite with fewer options than SmartSuite based on OpenOffice. It's called Lotus Symphony, which was the name of one of the first DOS office suites that Lotus offered in the 80s.

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