What is Software? Type of software and their uses
In today’s era we are surrounded by technology and with digital machines. These machines made our lives better. Therefore, knowingly or unknowingly we use different software to do our daily tasks. Like we use mobile phones, laptop, Desktop, these machines need software to run.
Software has such a powerful impact on our lives, but many of you might be thinking, “what does software means” or “what are its various types that exist today?”
Let’s quickly discover the definition and types of software in this tutorial.
What is Software?
Software is a set of instructions, data or programs used to operate computers and execute specific tasks. It is the opposite of hardware, which describes the physical aspects of a computer. Software is a generic term used to refer to applications, scripts and programs that run on a device. It can be thought of as the variable part of a computer, while hardware is the invariable part.
Software is responsible for directing all computer-related devices and instructing them regarding what and how the task is to be performed. However, the software is made up of binary language (composed of ones and zeros), and for a programmer writing the binary code would be a slow and tedious task. Therefore, software programmers write the software program in various human-readable languages such as Java, Python, C#, etc. and later use the source code.
Types of Software
Software’s are broadly classified into two types,
- System Software
- Application Software.
System Software Vs. Application Software
System software is a computer program that helps the user to run computer hardware or software and manages the interaction between them. Essentially, it is software that constantly runs in the computer background, maintaining the computer hardware and computer’s basic functionalities, including the operating system, utility software, and interface. In simple terms, you can say that the system acts as a middle man that checks and facilitates the operations flowing between the user and the computer hardware.
The further classifications of system software are as follows:
The operating system is the most prominent example of system software that acts as an interface between the user and system hardware. It is a group of software that handles the execution of programs and offers general services for the application that runs over the computer. There are various types of operating systems available in the market, such as embedded operating systems, real-time OS, distributed OS, single or multi-user operating system, mobile, Internet, and various others.
Some of the commonly used examples of operating systems are given below.
- Microsoft Windows
- Apple’s iOS
- Apple’s MacOS
In computing, the device driver is a type of software that operates or controls some specific hardware devices linked to your system. They provide a software interface to hardware devices allowing computer operating systems and other applications to fetch hardware functions without knowing the exact specifications of the hardware. Some common examples of such device drivers that connect hardware devices (printers, sound cards, network cards, hard disks, floppy disk, keyboard, mouse, etc.) to a system easily are as follows:
- BIOS (Basic Input/Output System) Device Driver
- USB (Universal Serial Bus) Drivers
- Motherboard Drivers
- Display Drivers
- Printer Drivers
- Sound Card Driver
- ROM (Read-only memory) Drivers
- VGA (Video Graphic Array) Drivers
In electronic systems and computing, firmware is a type of permanent software embedded in the system’s ROM (read-only memory) to provide low-level control for some particular system device hardware. It is a set of instructions that are stored permanently on your computer’s hardware device.
Common examples of devices utilizing firmware are given below:
- Computer Peripherals
- Consumer Appliances
- Embedded Systems
- UEFI (United Extensible Firmware Interface)
- BIOS (Basic Input/Output System)
Utility software is developed to provide support in analyzing, optimizing, along configuring and maintaining a computer. The job of the utility program is to offer support to the system infrastructure. Though the system will work even if it doesn’t have any utility software, the right kind of utility software enhances its performance and makes it more reliable.
Some of the common examples of utility software are as follows:
- Norton and McAfee Antivirus
- Directory Opus
- Disk defragmenter
- Windows File Explorer
- Razer Cortex
Application software consists of many programs that perform specific functions for end users, such as writing reports and navigating websites. Applications can also perform tasks for other applications. Applications on a computer cannot run on their own; they require a computer’s OS, along with other supporting system software programs, to work.
These desktop applications are installed on a user’s computer and use the computer memory to carry out tasks. They take up space on the computer’s hard drive and do not need an internet connection to work. However, desktop applications must adhere to the requirements of the hardware devices they run on.
Web applications, on the other hand, only require internet access to work; they do not rely on the hardware and system software to run. Consequently, users can launch web applications from devices that have a web browser. Since the components responsible for the application functionality are on the server, users can launch the app from Windows, Mac, Linux or any other OS.