Software & Apps MS Office An Overview of Office Software and Productivity Software By Cindy Grigg Writer Cindy Grigg is a former freelance contributor to Lifewire and a productivity writer who teaches Microsoft Office software to students and pros. our editorial process Cindy Grigg Updated March 07, 2020 Tim Hawley / Getty Images MS Office Word Excel Powerpoint Outlook Tweet Share Email Office productivity software really is just the sum of its parts. Most of us know what an office is. Most of us know what productivity is. At the very least, most of us know it is something used by a computer. A quick rearrange of the words and it pretty much defines itself: Software which makes office-oriented tasks more productive. Here is some additional detail on why this type of software is important, including some insights from Katharine Hepburn to spice things up. Synonymous and Related Terms Despite the name and task definition, not only offices or businesses use office productivity software. These programs are valuable to diverse users, including schools, hobbyists, families, and individuals so much so that the name office productivity software is somewhat a misnomer. The closely related term office productivity suite is just an integrated collection of several office productivity software programs. Those programs, by the way, can also be called applications or application software. These terms drive home the idea that these programs are intended to apply the operating system toward getting a user task done, such as typing a letter or formatting a spreadsheet. Computing Has Come a Long Way Since 'Desk Set' Tracy and Hepburn's classic film Desk Set, where librarians working for a television reference service struggle to answer callers' random questions using a huge supercomputer-looking database, now feels like a very distant display of productivity. Talk about a primitive (but endearing) form of googling. Computer productivity functions have become not only privatized but personalized. Attainable Technology “If you need a helping hand, you can find one at the end of your arm.” —Katharine Hepburn The whole purpose of these programs is to empower every user to share their ideas with the world. Office productivity suites offer environments where you can select buttons and menus, either by mouse or keyboard, instead of feeding the computer code or computer language commands. Because most people don't know computer code languages. The GUI (pronounced "gooey", Graphical User Interface) is the official name for the technology which has allowed computer productivity to be accessible in this way. It has allowed those of us who don't know those computer languages to still make our ideas known to the digital world. Types of Programs Found in Office Productivity Suites Even though so many kinds of users benefit from office productivity suites, software companies do look to business needs in developing kinds of programs for their suite. Who Makes Office Productivity Suites? "Enemies are so stimulating". —Katharine Hepburn Each software company packages their office productivity suites to contain different programs. Microsoft Office is, of course, the industry leader for productivity suites, but you have other options, some of which are even free. The healthy competition in this industry means you may find one which surpasses your current productivity solution. The Big Picture: How Office Productivity Software Fits in With Other IT Likewise, please investigate how office suite add-ons, non-suite application software, and enterprise software augment your chosen productivity software. It is just one component of your computing strategy, or Information System, which is how all technology will be addressed in order to meet organizational goals (even if that organization is comprised of just you).