Software is the program that run the computer and allows us to use it. There are different types of computer software, all of which serve a specific purpose. In learning about computers, one of the first steps is to understand the major types of software, their uses, and applications.

Types of Computer Software

System Software

System software coordinates the activities and functions of hardware and software, and it controls the operations of computer hardware and provides an environment or platform for all the other types of software to work in. It is the most basic type of software in any computer system, which is essential for other programs, applications and the whole computer system to function.

(System software examples – Microsoft Windows XP, Mac O

S, Linux, Windows Vista, Ubuntu, device drivers, etc.)

Application Software

Application software is what helps the user perform the tasks of his/her choice. They are non-essential software which are installed and run, depending upon the requirements, in the environment provided by the system software.

(Application software examples – MS Office, OpenOffice, Media Players, MS Access, educational software, media development software, Antivirus software, etc. )

Programming Software

Programming software is used to write, test, debug and develop other software programs and applications. The various programming language editors such as Eclipse – a Java language editor – appear under this category. They are used for creating both the system as well as application software.

(Programming software examples – Turbo C, Xilinx, Kiel, compilers, debuggers, Integrated Development Environment (IDE), etc.)

Sub-types of Computer Software

Apart from the above main types of software there are many other subtypes, which will be mentioned below.

Freeware – Freeware is a type of software that anyone can download from the Internet and use for free.

(Examples – Google Talk, Yahoo Messenger, uTorrent, etc.)

Shareware – Shareware is usually distributed for free on a trial basis. It can be shared without violation of any laws. They usually stop working or prompt the user to purchase the full version, once the trial period expires.

(Examples – BearShare, Kazaa, Winzip, etc.)

Registry Cleaners – When you install a lot of software – or games for example –  your computer’s registry becomes clogged. Registry cleaners are used to clean up or delete all the invalid registry entries which has the benefit of speeding up your computer.

(Examples- TuneUp Utilities, Eusing, etc.)

Content Control Software – This kind of software allows you to control the content that can be accessed by a user on a computer. They are mostly used for restricting access over the Internet.

(Example- K9 Web Protection, PGSurfer, etc.)

Project Management Software – As its name suggests, project management software is a software package that helps multiple users to work on a project simultaneously. It allows them to schedule events, network with the other users, allocate resources, etc.

(Example- Microsoft Office Project Server, HyperOffice, 24SevenOffice, etc.)

Utility Software – These are usually small programs that help the management of the hardware and the application software installed on a computer.

(Example- Disk defragmenters, Disk cleaners, etc.)

Open Source Software – This is a type of software for which the source code is available to all users (open). As such, anyone can make changes to it and release their own new version.

(Example – Linux, Android OS, OpenOffice, etc.)

Web Browsers – Browsers are programs that allow you to surf or browse web pages on the Internet.

(Example – Internet Explorer, Safari, Mozilla Firefox, etc.)

With constant advancements in the field of software engineering, several new software and applications are being developed every day. Hence, the list provided above shouldn’t be considered definitive, as in the coming years, many more newer types of software would have been developed.

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