Sometimes abbreviated as S/W, software is a collection of instructions that enable a user to interact with the computer or have the computer perform specific tasks for them. Without software, the computer would be useless. For example, without your Internet browser software you would be unable to browse the Internet or read this page and without a software operating system the browser would not be able to run on your computer. In the picture to the right, is an example of what a Microsoft Excel software box looks like and is another example of a software program.
How do you get software?
Software can be purchased at a local retail computer store and online and is usually included in a box similar to the one shown to the right, this box usually contains all the disks (floppy diskette, CD, DVD, or Blu-ray) required to install the program onto the computer, manuals, warranty, and other important documentation.
Software can also be downloaded to the computer over the Internet. Once downloaded the setup file can be run to start the installation of the program on your computer.
In addition to purchasing software there are also millions of free software programs available that are broken into several different types of categories. First, shareware or trial software is software that gives you a few days to try the software before you buy the program. After the trial time expires you'll be asked to enter a code or to register the product before you can continue to use the program. Freeware is another type of free software, this software is free to use to anyone for as long as they wish with no obligations to pay. Finally, open source software is like freeware but not only is the program given away but the code used to make the program is also given away, which allows anyone to modify the program or just view how it was created.
Examples of types of software
Below is a short list of the different types of software that a computer may have installed as well as an examples of each program. Clicking on any of the below links will open a page with additional information about that type of software or program.
- Antivirus (AVG)
- Audio / Music program (iTunes)
- Database (Access)
- Device drivers
- E-mail (Outlook)
- Game (World of Warcraft)
- Internet browser (Firefox)
- Movie player (VLC)
- Operating system (Windows XP)
- Photo / Graphics program (CorelDRAW)
- Presentation (Powerpoint)
- Programming language (Perl)
- Simulation (Flight simulator)
- Spreadsheet (Excel)
- Utility (Compression, Disk Cleanup, Encryption, Registry cleaner, Screensaver)
- Word processor (Word)
How is software created?
A computer programmer or several computer programmers write the instructions using a programming language that tell the software how to work. Once a program has been completed it is compiled into a language that the computer can understand.
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