In this paper we present findings of a user observation study designed to explore patterns and design issues in the usage of software applications for information management, document authoring, and communication in the desktop environment. The study reveals that these three activities are closely interwoven while individual software applications are primarily focused on one type of activity. This disconnection among applications is in conflict with the requirements of complex tasks and the users need to include information into the communication channel. By explicating these issues, the study informs on the design guidelines to improve the desktop environment and enable the user to author, access and manage information, and communicate with users and services more effectively.