What is software? Definition, types, and examples

Software: You see it everywhere, whether you realize it or not. But what really is software? Some people may tell you that software is a computer program that can be executed by a central processing unit (CPU). While this is true, I’d like to define what software really is. This means that we’re going to go beyond the basic definition and explore various components and concepts of software. By the end of this blog post, you’ll know precisely what software truly is.

How do we define software?

Software is a set of instructions that tell a computer what to do. We use software to do things like search for information, create documents, and play games. Software can be divided into two types: system software and application software. System software includes operating systems, which control the computer’s hardware and manage the user’s interaction with it; device drivers, which allow the computer to communicate with its hardware devices; and utility programs, which perform maintenance tasks such as defragmenting hard drives or managing memory usage. Application software is what people use every day—it includes email programs, word processors, databases, spreadsheets, games, etc. 

System software

The definition of system software is the term used to describe software that provides services to other programs in a computer system. It can refer to both operating systems and utility programs, but most often it’s used to describe an operating system.

The types of system software include:

  • Operating systems, which control the CPU, memory, and other devices on a computer. They also manage files and run applications.
  • Utility programs, which provide services like printing or cleaning up temporary files.

Examples of system software include:

  • Windows OS
  • Mac OS.

Application software

Application software is a term used to describe a type of software that allows users to accomplish specific tasks.

Examples include programs that can be used for word processing, emailing, and photo editing. Application software can be classified as either end-user or system software. End-user application software is used by people who work on computers—they are the ones who use it to complete their tasks. System software, on the other hand, is not intended for use by individuals; instead it provides support for the operating system and other programs that are running on the computer.The following are examples of application software:

  • word processing programs like Microsoft Word or Apple Pages
  • email clients like Gmail or Outlook
  • photo editing apps like Photoshop.

Open source software

Open source software is a type of software whose source code is made available to the public. The source code is the part of the software that can be understood by humans, and it’s what programmers use to make sure they’re building their programs correctly. All kinds of people are involved in open source projects: developers, users, and more. Open source software is usually not sold for money, but instead distributed freely. Most people who contribute to open source projects do so because they want to see their work used by other people who need it or enjoy using it.