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Software: Meaning, types| Types of Application Software

Software: Meaning, types


A computer cannot do anything on its own. It must be instructed to do a desired job. Hence, it is necessary to specify a sequence of instructions, which a computer must perform to solve a problem. Such a sequence of instructions, written in a language, which can be understood by a computer, is called a computer program.

Software is any set of instructions that directs a computer to perform specific operations. Computer software consists of computer programs, libraries and related non-executable data (such as online documentation or digital media).

Computer software is non-tangible, contrasted with computer hardware, which is the physical component of computers.

Computer hardware and software require each other and neither can be realistically used without the other. 


It is the program, which controls the activity of processing by the computer, and the computer performs precisely what the program wants it to do.

When a computer is using a program, we say, it is running or executing that program. To be precise, software means a collection of programs, whose objective is to increase the capabilities of the hardware.

A software package is a group of programs, which solve a specific problem or perform a specific type of job.

For example, a word-processing package may contain programs for text editing, text formatting, drawing graphics, spelling checking, etc.

Hence, a multipurpose computer system has several software packages, one each for each for every type of job it can perform.

Types of Software


The vast range of software that are available today can be divided into two major categories:

(1) System Software
(2) Application Software 

(I) System Software

System software is a set of one or more programs, designed to control the operation and extend the processing capability of a computer system. In general a computer's system software performs one or more of the following functions:

(i) Supports the development of other application software.

(ii) Supports the execution of other application software.

(iii) Monitors the effective use of various hardware resources, such as CPU memory, peripherals, etc.

(iv) Communicates with and controls the operation of peripheral devices, such as printer, disk, tape, etc.


Hence, system software makes the operation of a computer system more efficient and effective.

Some of the most commonly known types of system software are:

1. Operating Systems.

Every computer has an operating system software, which takes care of the effective and efficient utilization of all the hardware andi Software components of the computer system.

2. Programming Language translators.

"They transform the instructions prepared by programmers in a programming language, into a form, which can be interpreted and executed.

3. Communication Software.

They enable transfer of data and programs from one computer to another in a networked environment.


4. Utility Programs.

They help users in system maintenance tasks, and performing tasks of routine nature. Some of the task commonly performed by utility programs include formatting of hard disk or floppy disks, taking backup of files stored on hard disk, sorting of the records stored in a file, etc.

(II) Application Software

An application program, or simply application, is a computer program designed to perform a group of coordinated functions, tasks, or activities for the benefit of the user.

Examples of an application include a word processor, a spreadsheet, an accounting application, a web browser, a media player, an aeronautical flight simulator, a console game or a photo editor.

The collective noun application software refers to all applications collectively. Application software, are often called productivity programs or end-user programs because they enable the user to complete tasks such as creating documents, spreadsheets, databases, and publications, doing online research, sending email, designing graphics, running businesses, and even playing games!

Application software is specific to the task it is designed for and can be as simple as a calculator application or as complex as a word processing application.

Types of application software:


1. Application Suite.

This consists of several applications bundled together. They usually have related functions, features and user interfaces, and may be able to interact with each other, eg. open each other's files.

Business applications often come in suites, eg. Microsoft Office, LibreOffice and Work, Which bundle together a word processor, a spreadsheet, etc.; but suites exist for other purposes, eg. graphics or music.

2. Enterprise Software.

Such type of software addresses the needs of an entire organization's processes and data flows, across several departments, often in a large distributed environment.

Examples include enterprise resource planning systems, customer relationship management (CRM) systems and supply chain management software.

3. Information Worker Software.

This lets users create and administer information, often for personal projects within a department. Examples are time management, resource management.


4. Content Access Software.

It is used primarily to access content without editing, but may include software that allows for content editing.

Such software addresses the needs of individuals and groups to consume digital entertainment and published digital content. Examples include media players, web browser and help browsers.

5. Educational Software.

This type of application software is related to content access software, but has the content and/or features adapted for use in by educators or students. For example, it may deliver evaluations (tests), track progress through material, or include collaborative capabilities.

6. Simulation Software.

'This simulates physical or abstract systems for research, training or entertainment purposes. Example: Driving simulation software.


7. Media Development Software.

This software generates print and electronic media for others to consume, most often in a commercial or educational setting. This includes graphic-art software, desktop publishing software, multimedia development software, HTML editors, digital-animation editors, digital audio and video composition, and many others.

8. Entertainment Software.

It refers to video games, screen savers.  programs to display motion pictures or play recorded music, and other forms of entertainment which can be experienced through use of a computing device.