What Is a Software Suite or Application Suite?

Application Suites and Examples

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A software suite, also called an application suite or productivity suite, is two or more software applications bundled and sold together. The applications share common user interface features and theme, and provide related and often integrated functionality that helps users perform or automate related tasks. For example, in the corporate office environment, Microsoft Office is a standard suite of office automation software applications that includes Microsoft Word, Outlook, Excel, Access, OneNote and PowerPoint.

Benefits of Software Suites

The biggest benefit of using a software suite of applications is the compatibility and integration between them. The act of copying-and-pasting text between two applications is not too difficult (it hasn't always been this way), though there can be issues with formatting and special symbols when moving between two nonintegrated applications. However, the process of loading a file from a different application or importing digital work from one to another without the loss of quality can be fraught with problems if the applications are not designed to do this.

The software applications in a suite are designed to work with one another, making it easier for users to move work product between them. For example, an Excel spreadsheet file can connect to an Access database to import data. The Excel spreadsheet can then be imported into Word for mail merge tasks. 

Another benefit of software suites is reduced cost.

Purchasing the applications individually is often expensive; the software suite bundle of applications is generally priced far less than it would cost to buy each separately.

Popular Software Suites

There are many different software and application suites available, ranging from business office software suites to computer and internet security software suites.

Some of the more widely known and used business and design software suites include:

  • Microsoft Office 365 - The office productivity software suite that includes Word (word processor), Outlook (email), Excel (spreadsheet), Access (database), OneNote (note-taking software) and PowerPoint (presentation slides). Office 365 is a cloud-based subscription service that offers the suite for a monthly fee.
  • Adobe Creative Suite or Cloud - A software suite that includes digital design and publishing applications, such as Photoshop, InDesign, Dreamweaver, Illustrator, Acrobat Pro and other supporting programs. Adobe Creative Cloud is the cloud-based subscription service that offers the suite for a monthly fee.
  • Apache OpenOffice - An open source productivity software suite that includes Writer (word processor), Calc (spreadsheet application), Impress (presentation slide application), Draw (drawing application), Base (database application) and Math (formula editor).
  • iWork - Apple's suite of office productivity software that includes Pages (word processor), Keynote (presentation slides) and Numbers (spreadsheets) applications. iWork for iCloud is Apple's cloud-based offering of the software suite.
  • Google Docs - Google's web-based suite of productivity applications that includes Docs (word processor), Sheets (spreadsheets), Slides (presentation slides) and Forms. Documents created can be saved in Google Drive, its cloud storage service.

    Further Reading: Starting an Office