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How is Computer Software Different?

Oct 13, 2007
Software, on a broader perspective, refers to any electronic media content. The term computer software is a term used to refer to computer programs, procedures, and documentation that perform specific tasks on a computer system. This term is also used to describe application software or productivity software, system software such as computer operating systems, and middleware - software that manages and coordinates distributed systems.

Computer software is may be viewed as the language of computers. There is a wide variety of software available and these are categorized into three different types: system software, application software, and programming software.

System software runs the computer system including all the hardware devices contained within the system. This software is used by the computer to interpret input from external sources into something a machine can understand. Software works with the computer's hardware components and includes the computer's operating system, diagnostic tools, device drivers, utilities and more. One may automatically think of computer operating systems when the words software system are mentioned - operating systems run the computer. The most popular operating systems today are those manufactured by Microsoft. Other competing operating systems are open source OSs such as Linux and Unix.

Programming Software provides tools that assist programmers in creating computer software and programs. These software tools use different programming languages and include text editors, interpreters, compilers, linkers, and debuggers. All these tools are merged into a software bundle through an integrated development environment or IDE. These IDEs have a graphical user interface that makes programming easier by eliminating the need for programmers to type in numerous commands in order to compile, interpret, debug, trace, and perform other tasks on their code.

Application software provides a way for computer users to complete specific tasks. Common applications include medical software, databases, computer games, industrial automation, educational, and business software programs.

The different types of application software may be further subdivided into productivity software - also known as tools, this includes programs that may be used to produce spreadsheets, documents, databases and other products. The most commonly used productivity software is MS Office from Microsoft; educational software - includes programs that provide an alternative method to teaching.

This includes drill and practice programs, problem solving programs, tutorials, presentation programs, and references; multimedia - generally includes any software program that is used to view or edit pictures, sound clips, video clips, graphics and other related content; and games - as the name suggests, games are computer programs mainly used as a manner of entertainment.
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