Introduction to Computer Software

Understanding Computer Software

A Software is a collection of instructions that enable the user to interact with a computer, its hardware, or perform tasks. Without software, most computers would be useless. For example, without your Internet browser software, you could not surf the Internet or read this page. Without an operating system, the browser could not run on your computer.

On virtually all computer platforms, software can be grouped into a two broad categories.

System software or Operating System
An operating system or OS is a software program that enables the computer hardware to communicate and operate with the computer software. Without a computer operating system, a computer and software programs would be useless.

Application software –
An application software is a software that uses the computer system to perform special functions beyond the basic operation of the computer itself. There are many different types of application software, depending on the task you performed on the computer.

System Software (Operating Systems)

There are hundreds of operating systems in the world’s computing industry. Let’s see some of them.

Microsoft Windows

Microsoft Windows has existed in one form or another since 1985, and it remains the most popular operating system for home and office computers. Its latest versions, including Windows 10, are also used on some tablets, and the OS is used on some web and number-crunching server computers as well. Computers from a wide variety of manufacturers can use Windows.

Windows 10 operating system desktop
Windows 10 operating system desktop

Apple iOS

Apple’s iOS is one of the most popular smart-phone operating systems, second only to Android. It runs on Apple hardware, including iPhones, iPad tablets and iPod Touch media players.

iOS operating system interface
iOS operating system interface

Android OS

Android is the most popular operating system in the world judging by the number of devices installed. Largely developed by Google, it’s chiefly used on smart-phones and tablets. Unlike iOS, it can be used on devices made by a variety of different manufacturers, and those makers can tweak parts of its interface to suit their own needs.

Two screens of the Android operating system – Home screen on the left and apps menu on the right.

Linux Operating System

Unlike many other operating systems, development on Linux isn’t led by any one company. The operating system was created by Finnish programmer Linus Torvalds in 1991. Nowadays, programmers from all over the world collaborate on its open source code and submit tweaks to the central kernel software and other programs. Linux can be run on a wide variety of hardware and is available free of charge over the Internet.

Ubuntu – the most popular Linux distribution.

Application Software

Below is a list of the different kinds of software a computer may have installed with examples of related programs. Click any of the links below for example screen-shot.

Type of SoftwareExamples
AccountingQuickbooks, GNUCash
AntivirusKaspersky, AVG Antivirus
DatabasesMicrosoft Access, LibreOffice Base
E-mailOutlook, Thunderbird
Graphics designCorelDRAW, Inkscape
Image editingAdobe Photoshop, GIMP
Media PlayersVLC, Windows Media Player
PresentationMicrosoft Powerpoint, LibreOffice Impress
SpreadsheetsMicrosoft Excel, LibreOffice Calc
Web browsersMozilla Firefox, Google Chrome
Web/HTML editorsAdobe Dreamweaver, Bluefish editor
Word ProcessingMicrosoft Word, LibreOffice Writer