Software is basically a group of programs, instructions or data used to run specific programs and perform certain tasks on computers. Earlier software was written only for particular computers and sold together with the machine it operated on. In the mid-eighties, software started to be sold as CDs and DVDs, and in the nineties on floppy discs. Nowadays there are various types of software available and it varies from a simple word processor, to complex and user friendly operating system, to various gaming platforms, to business management software. Software has enabled people to share and collaborate on projects, applications and other information.
The term software is also used for describing the different components that make up an application or a system. The various components of software are development tools, utility software, database software, packaging tools and error correction software. The development tools enable programmers to write code for creating programs and the utilities allow users to run these programs. Database software helps in the management of data, both storing and retrieving it. Packaging tools help in the creation of applications by removing the need for installation of software packages on the user’s computer.
The use of software has increased over the years because of its portability, its easy use and its ability to perform complex tasks. Software can be written for any computer and is typically stored on a personal computer, a laptop, a tablet and even on a smartphone or mobile phone. Most software is available free of charge, but some types of software such as e-commerce software and computer game software requires that the user download the software to their computer system from the internet. There are many online stores that offer software downloads for free.
The most common type of software is the desktop software, which can be installed on a personal computer. Desktop software can run both on the PC and on a laptop. A typical desktop software consists of text, image, video and audio files. The computer system needs to have the appropriate drivers installed before the software will execute. A laptop uses different types of hardware that is specific to the laptop manufacturer. In most cases, the laptop OS will provide the necessary drivers for proper operation of the software.
Computer hardware such as computers, laptops and mobile phones have different specifications. One type of computer software that is available for most types of hardware is freeware. Freeware software is not licensed and is available for download. Downloading and using this software is usually free and does not require the user to pay licensing fees. It is also available on different websites, including the Internet.
Application software is different from hardware in that it is specifically designed for a specific task. Examples of software that is specific to multimedia include flash video, movie maker, photo editing software and sound recorder. Applications can be downloaded for free and are usually obtained with freeware or shareware programs. Some examples of application software include office suite like Microsoft office and Adobe office.
Computer hardware includes motherboards, processors, memory, hard drives and other components. In general, a computer system will include a motherboard, processor, memory, hard drive, optical drive, USB and network hardware. Other components that may be needed include a monitor, keyboard, mouse and trackball. There are specialized computer software packages that are designed for specific operating systems. Examples of these packages include Sun Staroffice, Microsoft Office and Microsoft Works.
Operating system software is software that runs on a specific operating system. Examples include Microsoft Windows, Macintosh MacOS and Linux. User software and device drivers are part of the operating system software. Device drivers are specific to a particular computer manufacturer, model year. For example, a new wireless device will need device drivers that work with the manufacturer’s driver.