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What is Software?

What is Software

In the current world, we as a user are blown away with modern software. They have surrounded us to make our lives better. Therefore, knowingly or unknowingly, we use different software to lead our day-to-day activities efficiently and more reliably. Furthermore, with time, people are becoming more tech-savvy, and that’s why the need for high-tech technologies and software support is constantly changing and increasing with the growing needs and demands of people. Today in the market, there are various types of software, which can be valuable for any user, even those who don’t recognize these diverse types of software. 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 programs (sequence of instructions) that allows the users to perform a well-defined function or some specified task.

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, i.e., System Software and Application Software.

1. System 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.

System software is not limited to the operating system. They also include the basic I/O system procedures, the boot program, assembler, computer device driver, etc. This software supports a high-speed platform to provide effective software for the other applications to work in effortlessly. Therefore system software is an essential part of your computer system. They are the first thing that gets loaded in the system’s memory wherever you turn on your computer. System software is also known as “low-level software” because the end-users do not operate them. Companies usually employ the best software development programmers who can deploy efficient system software.

The further classifications of system software are as follows:

1. Operating System

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
  • Android
  • CentOS
  • Linus
  • Ubuntu
  • Unix

2. Device Drivers

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

3. Firmware

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)

4. Utility

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
  • WinRAR
  • Directory Opus
  • Disk defragmenter
  • WinZip
  • Windows File Explorer
  • Razer Cortex

Application Software

Application programs or software applications are end-user computer programs developed primarily to provide specific functionality to the user. The applications programs assist the user in accomplishing numerous tasks such as doing online research, completing notes, designing graphics, managing the finances, watching a movie, writing documents, playing games, and many more. Therefore, many software applications are designed and developed every year by companies as per the demand and requirements of the potential users. The application software can either be designed for a general-purpose or specially coded as per the requirements of business cooperation.

Today there are varieties of application software available in the market. Given below are some of the popular examples:

a. Word Processors

Word processor applications are globally used for documentation, making notes, and typing data. It also helps the end-users store and format data. They also enable the users to print their documents.

Some examples of Word Processor software’s are as follows:

  • MS Word (Microsoft)
  • iWork-Pages (Apple)
  • Corel WordPerfect
  • Google Docs

b. Database Software

Database software is used to create, manage, modify and organize a massive amount of data quickly retrieved. Another name for database software is Database Management System (DBMS). Such software helps companies in their data organization. Common examples of Database Software’s are:

  • Oracle
  • MS Access
  • SQLite
  • Microsoft SQL Server
  • FileMaker
  • dBase
  • MariaDB
  • MySQL

c. Multimedia Software

This software enables the users to play, create or record images, music, and video files. Different graphic designing companies widely use multimedia software to make animation, images, posts, packaging, marketing creative, gif, or even video editing. Due to their popularity and increasing demand, every software product development corporation has massive avenues in creating and upgrading them.

Common examples of Database Software’s are given below:

  • Adobe Photoshop
  • Windows Movie Maker
  • Adobe Illustrator
  • Picasa
  • Windows Media Player
  • Corel Draw

d. Web Browsers

These are a type of software that is globally used to browse the Internet. Web browsers help the users in positioning as well as fetching data across the web. Common examples of web browsers are given below:

  • Chrome
  • Mozilla Firefox
  • Microsoft Internet Explorer
  • Opera
  • Microsoft Edge
  • UC Browser
  • Apple Safari

However, there also occurs another classification of the software that exists on the basis of their availability and shareability. The classification is given below:

1. Freeware

As the name suggests, Freeware software is available free of cost for an unlimited time. Any user can easily download their respective software from the Internet and start using them instantly without paying any charges or fees. Software development companies mostly design and develop freeware software as a strategy to reach out to more people. Typical examples of Freeware Software are as follows:

  • Adobe Reader
  • Zoom
  • Skype
  • ImgBurn
  • Audacity
  • Whatsapp
  • Anydesk

2. Shareware

Shareware software is readily available on the Internet to download on a fixed trial basis. It is distributed freely with a set time limit, and at the end of the trial period, the user is asked either to pay the fee or uninstall the software. Some shareware, mainly including the gaming softwares, have a fixed trial based on the counts an application is opened rather than the number of days it has been installed on the system.

Give below are some of the popular examples for Shareware Software:

  • Adobe Acrobat
  • Adobe Photoshop
  • AnyDVD
  • PHP Debugger
  • WinZip

3. Open-source

People usually get confused with freeware and open-source, but both are different. Though both the software are available on the Internet free of cost with the only difference that open source software is available online along with their source code. It means the user can change, transform, and even can add additional features to them. Based on their services, they can be chargeable as well free of cost.

Give below are some of the popular examples for open-source Software:

  • Mozilla Firefox
  • MySQL
  • Thunderbird
  • OpenOffice
  • ClamWinantivirus
  • Apache Web Server

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