I definitely remember that sometime after OS/2 was introduced - while it was still in its very early days - after the breakup from Microsoft, long before Warp - IBM announced with great fanfare a tremendously large software project that was going to produce an entire suite of "productivity" software for it.

I can't remember what it was called - it had a fancy IBM-like name for the entire suite - and can't find any reference to it. I'd like to know what it was called and what, if anything, was delivered from it. I have a distinct memory that it in fact was never delivered and was one of the major expensive failures of software development. (But it could very well be a false memory as I don't see it listed anywhere as an expensive software project failure.) (The memory of its failure might be false, that is, not the memory that it was announced: that's definitely true.)

I can't even remember what was going to be in the suite. I have the vague idea that it included enterprisey stuff like accounting software and such, not necessarily word processor, spreadsheet, etc.

(And I'm not talking about anything "serverish" that ran on OS/2, like IBM Database or their communications/networking stuff.)

Clarification: I am definitely not talking about software IBM licensed and rebranded from some other company, e.g., from SPC or from Lotus. This was definitely an IBM project to specify, architect, design, and build.

(This memory comes from when I worked at SPC (Software Publishing Corporation) on porting their as-yet-unshipped client-server database from OS/2 to Windows/386. Or maybe it was Windows 3.0, I forget. But I was following OS/2 rather closely in those days and definitely remember seeing stuff about this IBM effort.)

  • 2
    The IBM Office Suite for OS/2 that I remember was Lotus Smart Suite, first released in 1993. But that was released, and sold for over a decade. Commented Nov 20, 2020 at 15:17
  • 1
    Was it IBM Works based on the earlier IBM Legato IIRC ?
    – Alan B
    Commented Nov 20, 2020 at 15:18
  • Both of those were Warp-era, weren’t they? (At least, IIRC IBM Works was released on the Warp BonusPak, and SmartSuite became an OS/2 thing when IBM bought Lotus, although the individual applications therein had been available for OS/2 for some time.) Commented Nov 20, 2020 at 15:29
  • @StephenKitt The earliest versions of both slightly predate Warp, but yes, that's the general time frame. Commented Nov 20, 2020 at 15:34
  • @MichaelGraf indeed, I see Lotus SmartSuite for OS/2 1.0 was released for OS/2 2.0, seemingly in February 1994 (according to WinWorld). Commented Nov 20, 2020 at 15:38

1 Answer 1


It was OfficeVision. From the link:

"The IBM OfficeVision/2 LAN Series provides office functions to interconnected OS/2 Extended Edition and IBM DOS workstations on a local area network (LAN). Support is introduced in IBM OfficeVision/2 Release 1 for mail, correspondence processing, address book, file system and telephony. In addition to enhancing portions of IBM OfficeVision/2 Release 1, IBM OfficeVision/2 Release 2 adds the functions of calendar, decision support, file cabinet, library, extensive online help and tutorials, and an application platform."

There's a write-up on Wikipedia and now you have a name you can search for further links.

I investigated OfficeVision for a ~1,000 user roll-out in 1990 and got to see demonstrations of the products (in Austin, Tx. Yay!). The main client ran on OS/2 though there was some support across the IBM range from PCs running DOS through mid-range to mainframe systems.

The vision was impressive and was far ahead of anything available on MS-DOS or the then relatively unpopular MS Windows. (Windows only started to take off with the release of V3 in the same year.) The quote above lists specific features but the general idea was that you'd have an office automation tool where all the components were fully integrated. You wouldn't need to switch from a database to a spreadsheet, then format the results in a word processor and a graphics program and finally run an email tool to send the results out. You could do all of this in a single program which IBM rather modestly called the editor.

So what went wrong? Why didn't it take over the industry, instead leaving our OP scratching their head trying to remember its name?

Firstly it was expensive. The licences were expensive. It ran on an OS/2 workstation which meant more memory, preferably high end CPU models (i.e 386/486) and a restricted set of hardware drivers (hence limited hardware choices) so the hardware was more expensive than a typical DOS/Windows PC.

Secondly, perhaps due to poor take-up resulting from the first point, the Officevision products that actually shipped didn't achieve their exalted vision and were seemingly no better than the existing DOS/Windows products that were cheaper and in any case already paid for and familiar. IBM ended up pulling the Officevision product and migrated users to Lotus Notes, a product I haven't used but doesn't seem to enjoy a reputation for user-friendliness.

We didn't rollout Officevision to our users so I was saved from hordes of users complaining about their enforced Notes migration. (As we didn't proceed with the rollout I didn't have a chance to use the actual initial production products.)

  • We used lotus notes 5 for several years. The email bit was terrible and by the time ibm fixed this outlook had eaten their lunch. Commented May 2 at 8:14

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