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A diagram showing how the userinteracts with application software on a
typical desktop computer. The application software layer interfaces with
the operating system, which in turn communicates with the hardware. The arrows
indicate information
Computer software, or simply software, is that part of a computer system that
consists of encoded information or computer instructions, in contrast to the
physicalhardware from which the system is built.
The term "software" was first proposed by Alan Turing and used in this sense
byJohn W. Tukey in 1957. In computer science and software
engineering, computer software is all information processed by computer
systems, programs and data.
Computer software includes computer programs, libraries and related nonexecutable data, such as online documentation or digital media. Computer
hardware and software require each other and neither can be realistically used on its own.
At the lowest level, executable code consists of machine language instructions specific to an individual processor—
typically a central processing unit (CPU). A machine language consists of groups of binary values signifying processor
instructions that change the state of the computer from its preceding state. For example, an instruction may change the
value stored in a particular storage location in the computer—an effect that is not directly observable to the user. An
instruction may also (indirectly) cause something to appear on a display of the computer system—a state change which
should be visible to the user. The processor carries out the instructions in the order they are provided, unless it is
instructed to "jump" to a different instruction, or interrupted.
The majority of software is written in high-level programming languages that are easier and more efficient for
programmers, meaning closer to a natural language.[1] High-level languages are translated into machine language using
a compiler or an interpreter or a combination of the two. Software may also be written in a low-level assembly language,
essentially, a vaguely mnemonic representation of a machine language using a natural language alphabet, which is
translated into machine language using an assembler.
Types of software
On virtually all computer platforms, software can be grouped into a few broad categories.
Purpose, or domain of use
Based on the goal, computer software can be divided into:

Application software, which is software that uses the computer system to perform special functions or
provideentertainment functions beyond the basic operation of the computer itself. There are many different types of
application software, because the range of tasks that can be performed with a modern computer is so large—see list of

System software, which is software that directly operates the computer hardware, to provide basic functionality
needed by users and other software, and to provide a platform for running application software. [2] System software

Operating systems, which are essential collections of software that manage resources and provides
common services for other software that runs "on top" of them. Supervisory programs, boot
loaders, shells and window systems are core parts of operating systems. In practice, an operating system comes
bundled with additional software (including application software) so that a user can potentially do some work
with a computer that only has an operating system.

Device drivers, which operate or control a particular type of device that is attached to a computer. Each
device needs at least one corresponding device driver; because a computer typically has at minimum at least one
input device and at least one output device, a computer typically needs more than one device driver.

Utilities, which are computer programs designed to assist users in the maintenance and care of their

Malicious software or malware, which is software that is developed to harm and disrupt computers. As such,
malware is undesirable. Malware is closely associated with computer-related crimes, though some malicious
programs may have been designed as practical jokes.

Nature or domain of execution

Desktop applications such as web browsers and Microsoft Office, as well as smartphone and tablet applications
(called "apps"). (There is a push in some parts of the software industry to merge desktop applications with mobile
apps, to some extent. Windows 8, and later Ubuntu Touch, tried to allow the same style of application user interface
to be used on desktops, laptops and mobiles.)

JavaScript scripts are pieces of software traditionally embedded in web pages that are run directly inside the web
browser when a web page is loaded without the need for a web browser plugin. Software written in other
programming languages can also be run within the web browser if the software is either translated into JavaScript, or
if a web browser plugin that supports that language is installed; the most common example of the latter
is ActionScript scripts, which are supported by the Adobe Flash plugin.

Server software, including:

Web applications, which usually run on the web server and output dynamically generated web pages to
web browsers, using e.g. PHP, Java, ASP.NET, or even JavaScript that runs on the server. In modern times these
commonly include some JavaScript to be run in the web browser as well, in which case they typically run partly
on the server, partly in the web browser.

Plugins and extensions are software that extends or modifies the functionality of another piece of software, and
require that software be used in order to function;

Embedded software resides as firmware within embedded systems, devices dedicated to a single use or a few uses
such as cars and televisions (although some embedded devices such as wireless chipsets can themselves be part of an
ordinary, non-embedded computer system such as a PC or smartphone).[3] In the embedded system context there is
sometimes no clear distinction between the system software and the application software. However, some embedded
systems run embedded operating systems, and these systems do retain the distinction between system software and
application software (although typically there will only be one, fixed, application which is always run).

Microcode is a special, relatively obscure type of embedded software which tells the processor itself how to
execute machine code, so it is actually a lower level than machine code. It is typically proprietary to the processor
manufacturer, and any necessary correctional microcode software updates are supplied by them to users (which is
much cheaper than shipping replacement processor hardware). Thus an ordinary programmer would not expect to
ever have to deal with it.

Programming tools
Programming tools are also software in the form of programs or applications that software developers (also known
asprogrammers, coders, hackers or software engineers) use to create, debug, maintain (i.e. improve or fix), or
otherwisesupport software. Software is written in one or more programming languages; there are many programming
languages in existence, and each has at least one implementation, each of which consists of its own set of programming
tools. These tools may be relatively self-contained programs such as compilers, debuggers, interpreters, linkers, and text
editors, that can be combined together to accomplish a task; or they may form an integrated development
environment (IDE), which combines much or all of the functionality of such self-contained tools. IDEs may do this by
either invoking the relevant individual tools or by re-implementing their functionality in a new way. An IDE can make it
easier to do specific tasks, such as searching in files in a particular project. Many programming language implementations
provide the option of using both individual tools or an IDE.
Software topics
Users often see things differently from programmers. People who use modern general purpose computers (as opposed
toembedded systems, analog computers and supercomputers) usually see three layers of software performing a variety of
tasks: platform, application, and user software.

Platform software: The Platform includes the firmware, device drivers, an operating system, and typically
a graphical user interface which, in total, allow a user to interact with the computer and its peripherals (associated
equipment). Platform software often comes bundled with the computer. On a PC one will usually have the ability to
change the platform software.

Application software: Application software or Applications are what most people think of when they think of
software. Typical examples include office suites and video games. Application software is often purchased separately
from computer hardware. Sometimes applications are bundled with the computer, but that does not change the fact
that they run as independent applications. Applications are usually independent programs from the operating system,
though they are often tailored for specific platforms. Most users think of compilers, databases, and other "system
software" as applications.

User-written software: End-user development tailors systems to meet users' specific needs. User software include
spreadsheet templates and word processor templates. Even email filters are a kind of user software. Users create this
software themselves and often overlook how important it is. Depending on how competently the user-written software
has been integrated into default application packages, many users may not be aware of the distinction between the
original packages, and what has been added by co-workers.

Computer software has to be "loaded" into the computer's storage (such as the hard drive or memory). Once the software
has loaded, the computer is able to execute the software. This involves passing instructions from the application software,
through the system software, to the hardware which ultimately receives the instruction as machine code. Each instruction
causes the computer to carry out an operation—moving data, carrying out a computation, or altering the control flow of
Data movement is typically from one place in memory to another. Sometimes it involves moving data between memory
and registers which enable high-speed data access in the CPU. Moving data, especially large amounts of it, can be costly.
So, this is sometimes avoided by using "pointers" to data instead. Computations include simple operations such as
incrementing the value of a variable data element. More complex computations may involve many operations and data
elements together.

Quality and reliability
Software quality is very important, especially for commercial and system software like Microsoft Office, Microsoft
Windowsand Linux. If software is faulty (buggy), it can delete a person's work, crash the computer and do other
unexpected things. Faults and errors are called "bugs" which are often discovered during alpha and beta testing. Software
is often also a victim to what is known as software aging, the progressive performance degradation resulting from a
combination of unseen bugs.
Many bugs are discovered and eliminated (debugged) through software testing. However, software testing rarely—if ever
—eliminates every bug; some programmers say that "every program has at least one more bug" (Lubarsky's Law). [4] In
thewaterfall method of software development, separate testing teams are typically employed, but in newer approaches,
collectively termed agile software development, developers often do all their own testing, and demonstrate the software to
users/clients regularly to obtain feedback. Software can be tested through unit testing, regression testing and other
methods, which are done manually, or most commonly, automatically, since the amount of code to be tested can be quite
large. For instance, NASA has extremely rigorous software testing procedures for many operating systems and
communication functions. Many NASA-based operations interact and identify each other through command programs.
This enables many people who work at NASA to check and evaluate functional systems overall. Programs containing
command software enable hardware engineering and system operations to function much easier together.
The software's license gives the user the right to use the software in the licensed environment, and in the case of free
software licenses, also grants other rights such as the right to make copies.
Proprietary software can be divided into two types:

freeware, which includes the category of "free trial" software or "freemium" software (in the past, the
term sharewarewas often used for free trial/freemium software). As the name suggests, freeware can be used for free,
although in the case of free trials or freemium software, this is sometimes only true for a limited period of time or
with limited functionality.

software available for a fee, often inaccurately termed "commercial software", which can only be legally used on
purchase of a license.

Open source software, on the other hand, comes with a free software license, granting the recipient the rights to modify
and redistribute the software.
Software patents, like other types of patents, are theoretically supposed to give an inventor an exclusive, time-limited
license for a detailed idea (e.g. an algorithm) on how to implement a piece of software, or a component of a piece of
software. Ideas for useful things that software could do, and user requirements, are not supposed to be patentable, and
concrete implementations (i.e. the actual software packages implementing the patent) are not supposed to be patentable
either—the latter are already covered by copyright, generally automatically. So software patents are supposed to cover the

middle area, between requirements and concrete implementation. In some countries, a requirement for the claimed
invention to have an effect on the physical world may also be part of the requirements for a software patent to be held
valid—although since all useful software has effects on the physical world, this requirement may be open to debate.
Software patents are controversial in the software industry with many people holding different views about them. One of
the sources of controversy is that the aforementioned split between initial ideas and patent does not seem to be honored in
practice by patent lawyers—for example the patent for Aspect-Oriented Programming (AOP), which purported to claim
rights over any programming tool implementing the idea of AOP, howsoever implemented. Another source of controversy
is the effect on innovation, with many distinguished experts and companies arguing that software is such a fast-moving
field that software patents merely create vast additional litigation costs and risks, and actually retard innovation. In the
case of debates about software patents outside the US, the argument has been made that large American corporations and
patent lawyers are likely to be the primary beneficiaries of allowing or continue to allow software patents.
Design and implementation
Design and implementation of software varies depending on the complexity of the software. For instance, the design and
creation of Microsoft Word took much more time than designing and developing Microsoft Notepad because the latter has
much more basic functionality.
Software is usually designed and created (a.k.a. coded/written/programmed) in integrated development
environments (IDE) like Eclipse, IntelliJ and Microsoft Visual Studio that can simplify the process and compile the
software (if applicable). As noted in a different section, software is usually created on top of existing software and
the application programming interface (API) that the underlying software provides like GTK+, JavaBeans or Swing.
Libraries (APIs) can be categorized by their purpose. For instance, the Spring Framework is used for
implementing enterprise applications, the Windows Formslibrary is used for designing graphical user interface (GUI)
applications like Microsoft Word, and Windows Communication Foundation is used for designing web services. When a
program is designed, it relies upon the API. For instance, if a user is designing a Microsoft Windows desktop application,
he or she might use the .NET Windows Forms library to design the desktop application and call its APIs
like Form1.Close() and Form1.Show()[5] to close or open the application, and write the additional operations him/herself
that it needs to have. Without these APIs, the programmer needs to write these APIs him/herself. Companies
like Oracle and Microsoft provide their own APIs so that many applications are written using theirsoftware libraries that
usually have numerous APIs in them.
Data structures such as hash tables, arrays, and binary trees, and algorithms such as quicksort, can be useful for creating
Computer software has special economic characteristics that make its design, creation, and distribution different from
most other economic goods.[specify][6][7]
A person who creates software is called a programmer, software engineer or software developer, terms that all have a
similar meaning. More informal terms for programmer also exist such as "coder" and "hacker" – although use of the latter
word may cause confusion, because it is more often used to mean someone who illegally breaks into computer systems.
Industry and organizations
A great variety of software companies and programmers in the world comprise a software industry. Software can be quite
a profitable industry: Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft was the richest person in the world in 2009, largely due to his
ownership of a significant number of shares in Microsoft, the company responsible for Microsoft Windows and Microsoft
Office software products.
Non-profit software organizations include the Free Software Foundation, GNU Project and Mozilla Foundation. Software
standard organizations like the W3C, IETF develop recommended software standards such as XML, HTTP and HTML, so
that software can interoperate through these standards.
Other well-known large software companies include Oracle, Novell, SAP, Symantec, Adobe Systems, and Corel, while
small companies often provide innovation.
Different Types of Software
Here are some common types of software.

Operating systems


Microsoft Windows. Linux. Macintosh OS X.


Control your computer.

More »

Word processors


Word. Corel WordPerfect. AbiWord.


Write essays, novels, reports, or other types of text.

More »



Excel. Lotus 1-2-3. VisiCalc.


Track budgets or investments, or make other calculations.

More »

Presentation software




Create slideshows for meetings.

More »

Database management systems


Access. Oracle. Sybase. 4th Dimension.


Organize and filter lists of data, such as addresses or inventories.

More »

Photo editors


Photoshop. Fireworks. PhotoPaint. Gimp.


Change digital photos and other images.

More »



The Sims. PacMan. Minesweeper.


Have fun playing or experiencing challenges.

More »

Desktop publishing


PageMaker. InDesign. QuarkXPress.


Make a magazine, a poster, or an advertisement.

More »

Computer-aided design (CAD) software


AutoCAD. SolidWorks. MicroStation.


Create blueprints or designs.

More »

Web browsers


Internet Explorer. Netscape. Mozilla Firefox. Opera. Safari.


View pages on the World Wide Web.

More »

E-mail clients


Outlook. Eudora. Entourage.


Send letters and files to other people.

More »
And these categories are just the beginning.
Programmers have also created software to do the following tasks:

Organize employee schedules

Encode messages to protect bank transactions and other private information

Change speech into type

Format screenplays

Determine how to get the most lumber from a log

Count down seconds, like an egg timer

Create music CDs

Block unwanted advertisements on the World Wide Web or in e-mail

Keep track of airplane traffic

Design Web sites

Edit sound recordings

Help create more software

Software categories
The concept of software categories is a challenging topic, and with the continuous development of new software it is
becoming increasingly difficult to categorize new software. There is no universally agreed upon set of categories, and
different classification schemes consider different aspects.
Broad categories]
Computer software can be put into categories based on common function, type, or field of use. There are three broad

Application software is the general designation of computer programs for performing tasks. Application software
may be general purpose (word processing, web browsers,...) or have a specific purpose (accounting, truck scheduling,
..) Application software contrast with system software.

System software is a generic term referring to the computer programs used to start and run computer systems
including diverse application software and networks.

Computer programming tools, such as compilers and linker, are used to translate and combine computer program
source code and libraries into executable RAMs (programs that will belong to one of the three said

Free software
Free software is software that comes with permission for anyone to use, copy, and/or distribute, either verbatim or with
modifications, either gratis or for a fee. In particular, this means that source code must be available. "If it's not source, it's
not software." If a program is free, then it can potentially be included in a free operating system such as GNU, or
freeversions of the Linux system.
Free software in the sense of copyright license (and the GNU project) is a matter of freedom, not price. But proprietary
software companies typically use the term "free software" to refer to price. Sometimes this means a binary copy can be
obtained at no charge; sometimes this means a copy is bundled with a computer for sale at no additional charge. [1]
Open source software
Open source software is software that is available free of charge. It can be used and disseminated at any point, the source
code is open and can be modified as required. The one condition with this type of software is that when changes are made
users should make these changes known to others. One of the key characteristics of open source software is that it is the
shared intellectual property of all developers and users. The Linux operating system is one of the best known examples of
open source software [2]
Copylefted software[edit]
Copylefted software is free software whose distribution terms ensure that all copies of all versions carry more or less the
same distribution terms. This means, for instance, that copyleft licenses generally disallow others to add
additionalrequirements to the software (though a limited set of safe added requirements can be allowed) and require
making source code available. This shields the program, and its modified versions, from some of the common ways of
making a program proprietary. Some copyleft licenses block other means of turning software proprietary.
Copyleft is a general concept; to copyleft an actual program, you need to use a specific set of distribution terms. There are
many possible ways to write copyleft distribution terms, so in principle there can be many copyleft free software licenses.
Two different copyleft licenses are usually “incompatible”, which means it is illegal to merge the code using one license
with the code using the other license; therefore, it is good for the community if people use a single copyleft license. [1]
Non-copylefted free software
Noncopylefted free software comes from the author with permission to redistribute and modify, and also to add additional
restrictions to it.

If a program is free but not copylefted, then some copies or modified versions may not be free at all. A software company
can compile the program, with or without modifications, and distribute the executable file as a proprietary software
product. The X Window System illustrates this. The X Consortium releases X11 with distribution terms that make it
noncopylefted free software. If you wish, you can get a copy which has those distribution terms and is free. However,
there are nonfree versions as well, and there are (or at least were) popular workstations and PC graphics boards for which
nonfree versions are the only ones that work. If you are using this hardware, X11 is not free software for you. The
developers of X11 even made X11 nonfree for a while; they were able to do this because others had contributed their code
under the same noncopyleft license. [1]
Shareware is software which comes with permission for people to redistribute copies, but says that anyone who continues
to use a copy is required to pay a license fee. Shareware is not free software, or even semifree. There are two reasons it is
not: For most shareware, source code is not available; thus, you cannot modify the program at all. Shareware does not
come with permission to make a copy and install it without paying a license fee, not even for individuals engaging
innonprofit activity. In practice, people often disregard the distribution terms and do this anyway, but the terms do not
permit it.
Like shareware, freeware is software you can download, pass around, and distribute without any initial payment....
However, the great part about freeware is that you never have to pay for it. No 30-day limit, no demo versions, no
disabled features—it's totally free. Things like minor program updates and small games are commonly distributed as
freeware. Though freeware does not cost anything, it is still copyrighted, so other people can't market the software as their
Microsoft TechNet and AIS Software categories
There are seven major categories according to this classifications, and they
are: platform and management, education andreference, home and entertainment, content and communication, operations
and professional, product manufacturing and service delivery, and line of business.
Platform and management
Platform and management software includes desktop and network infrastructure and management software that allows
users to control the computer operating environment, hardware components and peripherals, and infrastructure services
and security.
Education and reference
Education and reference includes educational software that does not contain resources, such as training or help files for a
specific application.
Home and entertainment
Applications designed primarily for use in or for the home, or for entertainment.
Content and communications
Content and communications applications include common applications for productivity, content creation, and
communications. These typically include office productivity suites, multimedia players, file viewers, Web browsers,
andcollaboration tools.
Operations and professional
Used for specific job titles; contains applications designed for business uses such as enterprise resource
management,customer relations management, supply chain and manufacturing tasks, application
development, information managementand access, and tasks performed by both business and technical equipment.
Product manufacturing and service delivery
Product manufacturing and service delivery applications help users create products or deliver services in
specific industries. Categories in this section are used by the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS).

Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing and Hunting

Mining, Quarrying, and Oil and Gas Extraction




Wholesale Trade

Retail Trade

Transportation and Warehousing


Finance and Insurance

Real Estate and Rental and Leasing

Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services

Management of Companies and Enterprises

Administrative and Support and Waste Management and Remediation Services

Educational Services

Health Care and Social Assistance

Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation

Accommodation and Food Services

Public Administration

Other Services (except Public Administration)

Line of business

Internal and proprietary line-of-business applications.

Computer Software Definition
Software is a generic term for organized collections of computer data and instructions, often broken into two major
categories: system software that provides the basic non-task-specific functions of the computer, and application software
which is used by users to accomplish specific tasks.
System software is responsible for controlling, integrating, and managing the individual hardware components of a
computer system so that other software and the users of the system see it as a functional unit without having to be
concerned with the low-level details such as transferring data from memory to disk, or rendering text onto a display.
Generally, system software consists of an operating system and some fundamental utilities such as disk formatters, file
managers, display managers, text editors, user authentication (login) and management tools, and networking and device
control software.
Application software, on the other hand, is used to accomplish specific tasks other than just running the computer system.
Application software may consist of a single program, such as an image viewer; a small collection of programs (often
called a software package) that work closely together to accomplish a task, such as a spreadsheet or text processing
system; a larger collection (often called a software suite) of related but independent programs and packages that have a
common user interface or shared data format, such as Microsoft Office, which consists of closely integrated word
processor, spreadsheet, database, etc.; or a software system, such as a database management system, which is a collection
of fundamental programs that may provide some service to a variety of other independent applications.
Software is created with programming languages and related utilities, which may come in several of the above forms:
single programs like script interpreters, packages containing a compiler, linker, and other tools; and large suites (often
called Integrated Development Environments) that include editors, debuggers, and other tools for multiple languages.

Audio / Music program
Device drivers
Internet browser
Movie player
Operating system
Photo / Graphics program
Programming language
Word processor

AVG, Housecall, McAfee
iTunes, WinAmp
Access, MySQL, SQL
Computer drivers
Outlook, Thunderbird
Madden NFL Football, Quake, World of Warcraft
Firefox, Google Chrome, Internet Explorer
VLC, Windows Media Player
Mac OS X 10, Windows XP, Windows 7
Adobe PhotoShop, CorelDRAW
C++, HTML, Java, Perl, Visual Basic (VB)
Flight simulator, SimCity
Compression, Disk Cleanup, Encryption, Registry cleaner, Screensaver