What is computer software?
A computer software is a set of instructions which when given to the computer for processing provides desired functions, features, and performance. The data on which these instructions operate is also the part of the software. These computer instructions are called a computer program. The documentation that describes the working of a program is also the part of the software. In short, a software is a set of instructions that perform tasks on data to provide some features and functions and a document that describes its working.
A software has no physical appearance. You can not touch the software, however, you can use it and perform jobs. The software tells the computer how to work. Without software, the computer could be just a box with electronic chips installed in it.
Software Types and Categories
A software has various types and categories based on the use and availability in the market. There are three major classifications.
1. Application Software
An application software is a software that is used for general purpose tasks like word processing, internet browsing, calculations, emails, messaging etc. The application software can be freeware or shareware. Application software is mostly used for a particular and specified problem, for example, notepad is a word processor, similarly, MS-Word is a word processor. Application software runs on system software. Application software is a user application and is mostly used by the end users.
2. System Software
A system software is a software that helps to start and run computer systems. System software is designed to run hardware of computer system and application software. A system software is a layer between user application and hardware. A system software is used by the computer system.
3. Computer Programming Tools
Computer programming tool is a software that translates and combines source code and libraries into executable random access memory (RAM). For example, compilers and linkers.
Computer software is also categorized on the basis of copyright status. Based on copyright status, the computer software can be categorized as below.
Freeware software can’t be sold. These are available for download and distribution without any kind of payment. These are copyrighted to avoid conflict of ownership, however, you can get them free.
Shareware software is not available for free use. It is licensed software. You will need permission to redistribute its copies even for non-profit activity. Anyone, who wishes to use, will pay for it. For most of the shareware software, the source code is no available and can’t be modified.
3. Free software
Free software is available free for copy and distribution, either in its original or modified form. It can be bundled with a new computer at no additional cost. The source code must be available for modification otherwise, this will not be considered a free software. Free software can be included in free versions of Linux.
4. Open source software
Open source software is a software that can be made available to anyone and its source code is available to everyone. Anyone can modify and update it but any change made should broadcast to all other developers. Open source is the shared intellectual property of all developers.
5. Copylefted software
Copyleft software is free and carries more or less same distribution. No addition of new requirement is allowed.
6. Non-copylefted free software
Non-copylefted is also free software but it comes from the author along with permission to modify and redistribute and to add license restrictions.