DDE, OLE, COM, CORBA...
I'm afraid Orlowski made some confusion between DDE and COM - the former was often used to show updates between applications, the latter being often used to show how documents could be embedded in another application (i.e. an Excel sheet in a Word document).
Despite their complexity, SOM/COM and DCOM/CORBA were far better designed than the web stack used today - they took security into the design directly and didn't try to bolt it on top of layers and layers of ill-designed protocols. They also let to design a clear, clean API (despite IDL being a little complex to use) with strong data typing to catch errors early instead of spending most of the time parsing textual representation of data - because the web programmer is totally unable to understand binary data.
The only downside they weren't designed to work on networks where only a few TCP/IP ports are available.
I found really ugly applications were to manage a service on the same PC it has to run a web browser and then go through a whole stack starting from HTTP... using very little of the host OS security.