Software, by definition, is the collection of computer programs, procedures and documentation that performs different tasks on a computer system. The term 'software' was first used by John Tukey in 1958. At the very basic level, computer software consists of a machine language that comprises groups of binary values, which specify processor instructions. The processor instructions change the state of computer hardware in a predefined sequence. Briefly, computer software is the language in which a computer speaks.
Computer systems are divided into three major parts, they are system software, programming software and application software.
Programming Software: This is one of the most commonly known and popularly used types of computer software. This software comes in the form of tools that assist a programmer in writing computer programs. Computer programs are sets of logical instructions that make a computer system perform certain tasks. The tools that help programmers in instructing a computer system include text editors, compilers and interpreters, linkers, debuggers and more. Compilers translate source code written in a programming language into the language which a computer understands (mostly the binary form). Debuggers are used to check code for bugs and debug it. Interpreters execute the source code or a precompiled code or translate source code into an intermediate language before execution.
System Software: is the software used to manage and control the hardware components and which allow interaction between the hardware and the other types of software. It helps in running computer hardware and the computer system. System software assists in using various computer systems, such as diagnostic tools, compilers, servers, utilities, etc. It abstracts away an application program from hardware, memory and other internal complexities of a computer. System software refers to the operating systems; device drivers, servers, windowing systems and utilities. Operating system performs tasks such as transferring data between memory and disks or rendering the output onto the display device. Another important system software is computer BIOS and device firmware. This provides basic functionality to operate and control the hardware, which is connected to or built into the computer.
Application Software (also known as 'apps') is a computer software which is designed to help the user to perform single or multiple related tasks. In other words, application software is actually a subclass of computer software, which employs the capabilities of a computer directly and thoroughly to a task which the user wishes to perform. It is not concerned with the management or maintenance of the system itself. Business software, databases and educational software are some forms of application software.
One important type of application software is application suites. It consists of a group of applications combined to perform related functions. OpenOffice and Microsoft Office are the best examples of this type of application software. These application suites come as bundles of applications like word processors, spreadsheets, presentation software, etc. Applications in the suite can work together or operate on each other's files.
Malware is a separate category of software as it refers to any malicious software that are a threat to computer security. Adware, spyware, computer viruses, worms, Trojan horses and scareware are all examples of malware.
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