Updated: 08/03/2018 by Computer Hope

Program may refer to any of the following:

1. As a verb, program or programming is a term used to describe the process of a programmer developing a software program.

Microsoft Excel2. As a noun, an app, application, software application or software program is software on the computer that performs a special function or task. For example, Microsoft Word is a word processing application that allows users to create and write documents, and a browser, such as the one you are using to view this page, is an application.

Apps vs. programs

When Apple introduced the iPhone they popularized the term 'App,' but an app (application) and program are the same thing. Today, most people think of an 'app' as an application on an Apple computer, smartphone, or tablet and a program as something that runs on a computer (e.g., a Windows computer).

Tip: With all the different ways companies and people use these terms it is best to think of an application, app, and program as the same things.

What are Windows Apps?

When Microsoft introduced Windows 8, they introduced Apps into Microsoft Windows. Although we described an app as being short for application earlier, a Windows 8 App or Windows 10 App is not the same as a Windows application or Windows program. To find and install a Windows 8 App, visit the Store from the Windows Start screen, click the App, and choose the option to Install the App. Once an App has been installed, you can run that App from the Start Screen or Start Menu in Windows 10. Other programs can still be installed and run anywhere on the computer.

Programs vs. scripts

When a program is created, it is compiled into a language that the computer can understand. Once compiled the program does not need any other programs to run as long it as the computer has the required operating system and platform. A script is not compiled but needs an interpreter to translate the script into something the computer understands. Without an interpreter, the script cannot run on the computer, but once installed a script can run on any platform without needing to be re-written. See our script term for further information and pros and cons of scripts.

What type of files are program files?

A program file must be an executable file and for software programs running Microsoft Windows end with a file extension of .EXE, .COM, or .PIF. Executing these files runs the program and allows it to be used on the computer. On an Apple Macintosh computer, a program ends with .APP.

Examples of computer programs

There are millions of different programs available for computers, phones, and other devices today. Below are just a few examples and the related program category.

Tip: If you visit the program category page, you can see other examples of programs of that category.

Program Program Category
Adobe Acrobat PDF reader
Adobe Dreamweaver HTML editor
Adobe Photoshop Photo editor
Audacity Audio software
Comm Central Fax/Voice/Phone
FileZilla FTP
Google Chrome Internet Browser
Hyper Terminal Terminal program
Microsoft Excel Spreadsheet
Microsoft PowerPoint Presentation
Microsoft Word Word processor
Mozilla Thunderbird E-mail client
Norton Anti-Virus Antivirus
C++ Programming language
Skype Chat and VoIP
  • See our software page for information on software that is considered a program and software that is a different category.

Are games programs?

Yes, games are programs, but are typically labeled as a 'game' and not a program and because of the wide variety of different games also have sub-categories such as FPS, MMO, and RPG. For example, Quake is an FPS game.

Is Microsoft Windows a program?

No. All versions of Microsoft Windows are considered an operating system and not a program.

3. Program is the Swedish translation for the Windows Program Files folder.

Application, File, Program logic, Programmable, Programming terms, Programming language, Software terms, Utility