Computer Software


1.5 Computer Software

Software: Computer software (or simply software) refers to any of the various programs by which a computer controls aspects of its operations, such as those for translating data from one form to another, as contrasted with hardware, which is the physical equipment comprising the installation. The term is roughly synonymous with computer program but is more generic in scope.

The Software is generally classified on the basis of application suitability of the programs as:

  • System Software
  • Utility Software
  • Application Software

System Software

Systems software consists of low-level programs that interact with the computer at a very basis level. It helps in running the computer hardware and the computer system. This includes operating systems, compilers, assemblers and interpreters for managing computer resources.

Loader: It is a system program used to store the machine language program into the memory of the computer.

Language Translators: Since computers operate on electricity and binary operations, all instructions executed by computers must be in machine code. Language translators perform the translation of high level languages or assembly language into machine language. In addition they check for and identify some types of errors that may be present in the program being translated. There are three types of translator programs: Compliers, Assemblers and Interpreters.

Compiler: It is a translator system program used to translate a High-level language program into a Machine language program.

Assembler: It is another translator program used to translate an Assembly language program into a Machine language program.

Interpreter: It is also a translator system program used to translate a High level language program into a Machine language program, but it translates and executes line by line.

Operating System: An operating system is regarded as a set of programs which permit the continuous operation of a computer from program to program with the minimum amount of operator intervention. It acts as an interface between the operator, the computer and the processing program. Examples of operating systems are given below:

  • UNIX is a computer operating system originally developed in the 1960s and 1970s by Ken Thompson, Dennis Ritchie, and Douglas Mcllroy of AT&T Bell Labs.
  • Linux (also known as GNU/Linux) is a computer operating system. It is one of the most prominent examples of open source development and free software.
  • Mac OS, which stands for Macintosh Operating System, is a series of graphical user interface-based operating systems developed by Apply Computer for their Macintosh line of computer systems.
  • Microsoft Windows is a family of operating systems by Microsoft for use on personal computers, although versions of Windows designed for servers, embedded devices, and other platforms also exist.

Utility Software

It is also known as service routine, utility software helps in the management of computer hardware and application software. Utility is a program that performs a very specific task, usually related to managing system resources. Disk defragmenters, systems utilities and virus scanners are some of the typical examples of utility software.

Application Software

Application software (also called end-user programs) includes programs that do real work for users. The word processors, spreadsheets, and database management systems fall under the category of applications software. Applications software sits on top of systems software because it cannot run without the operating system and system utilities. Some Application Software details are given below:

  • Word Processing/Desktop Publishing: This software lets one create, edit, format, store, and print text and graphics in one document. These are in some ways similar as they deal with text, can contain pictures and tables and have Clip Art, WordArt, colour schemes and text styles. The main difference is that Desktop Publisher document are easier to lay out, so are better for things like newsletters where the layout is important, and the text may be in more than one place. When a new Word Processor document is opened we see a blank page onto which text can be typed. When a new Publisher document is opened, a blank page opens up and we must add a text frame, into which text can be typed. We have picture frames, Clip Art frames, WordArt frames, tables and various drawing objects.

    Examples of Word Processing software are: WordPad, Notepad.

Examples of Desktop publishing Software are: Corel Draw, Adobe Indesign, iStudio Publisher.

  • Spreadsheet Software: Spreadsheets, made up of columns and rows, have been used as business tools for centuries. A manual spreadsheet can be tedious to prepare and, when there are changes, a considerable amount of calculation may need to be redone. An electronic spreadsheet is still a spreadsheet, but in this the computer does the work. In particular, spreadsheet software automatically recalculates the results when a number is changed. This capability lets business people try different combinations of numbers and obtain the results quickly. Example: Excel, Lotus1-2-3 etc.
  • Database Software: Allows users to store and retrieve vast amount of data. Example: MS Access, MySQL, Oracle etc.
  • Presentation Graphic Software: Allows users to create visual presentation. Example: MS Power Point.

Multimedia Software: Allows users to create image, audio, video etc. Example: Real Player, Media Player etc.