What is Software? Some Definitions, Types, and Examples


TechsPlace | Software is an application installed on an electronic device to serve certain functions for its users. It helps users to simplify tasks. Software normally includes a graphic user interface that allows users to access and operate its functions. It may run automated tasks, or require direct interaction to complete tasks. Computer software is an important tool which you probably have daily interaction with for both work and pleasure.


Systems software

Systems software allows a computer system to operate. There are five common types: operating systems, device drivers, firmware, programming language translators, and utilities.

An operating system is the primary system that allows a computer to function. It lets the device boot up and allows for installing and operating applications to facilitate functionality. Operating systems may be specific to a particular device, for example, a computer, or a mobile phone. They can be proprietary systems or publicly available systems. A device driver enables communication between the operating system and hardware, telling both elements how to interact. Drivers are required in printers, scanners, card readers and modems. These can either be installed and updated automatically, or downloaded online.

Firmware tells hardware how to perform. Firmware is a part of most hardware devices such as hard drives, routers, monitors and peripherals. A programming language translator translates code from one programming language to another and also detects errors during the conversion. Utilities support the computer infrastructure by performing tasks, such as data security, to help a computer run smoothly. Many utilities, such as antivirus and file compression software, are third-party tools which are installed separately to help a computer function optimally.


Application software

There are many types of application software. Enterprise software addresses an organisation’s needs, rather than those of an individual. A business with many customers may use a customer relationship management system, or CRM software, to manage customer information. This software improves the efficiency of an organisation.


Word processing software is used to create text-based documents. It allows users to write, edit and format documents. Database software allows users to create and manage a database, and structure it so that they can organize data effectively. Spreadsheet software can create electronic documents and arrange them in rows and columns. You can use spreadsheet software for the organisation and analysis of numerical data.

Web browsers are used to access information on the internet. A browser retrieves information from a server and then translates its code into a visual representation which it displays on your screen. Multimedia applications help users to create or alter images, audio and video. With this software, you can combine different formats to create interactive content. Presentation software creates visual documents in slide form. Users can add photos, graphics, videos or text to the slides for presentation purposes.

You can also find application software to deal with many other requirements, for example, graphics, communication and education.  Furthermore, there are application suites which are collections of software programs serving related functions. For example, a business application suite may include word processing, spreadsheet and presentation software.