We might have heard the term software each day at work, school, electronics shops, etc. But what is software? How do our devices interact with it? No doubt all of us think it is a very complicated design, and impossible to understand its working. Well, I might say it’s true to an extent. But a basic understanding of software is a must. After all, we are interacting with it daily.
So, let us dive deeper and understand what is software and what are its types.
What is Software?
Software is a collection of programs, instructions, and protocols that are designed to perform a specific task. The software is associated with the operation of the computer and instructs it to perform different tasks.
A simple example would be the google voice assistant on our phones.
Working of a Software
Software is created by a group of programmers that write code. This code or program defines how the software will work and operate. The code is finally compiled and made into an executable file.
Different Software Designs
Any basic software comprises 3 levels-
- Architectural design- this is the blueprint of the software where its layout, connections, and overall configuration are designed.
- High-level architecture- under architecture comes this where flow maps, data structures, and relationships between different modules are defined.
- Detailed design- it is the third layer and focuses on the implementation of the overall software.
Types of Softwares
Now that we have enough idea about software and its working, let us dive deeper and learn about its types.
Software is of 4 main types- Application Software, System Software, Programming Software, and Malicious Software.
1. Application Software
Software developed for end-users needs is application software. These are the most common types of software and are customized according to the need of the end-user. This is because they are the ones who use it in the end. Examples of application software include- photoshop software like adobe and lightroom, or text editing software like MS Word or Excel, or internet browsers like chrome and safari.
Being the most commonly used software type these are available in various types and costs. A user can choose any of these according to its use and budget.
2. Programming software
As the name suggests, programming software is developed for software developers or programmers. Those are customized keeping in mind the needs and uses of a computer programmer. This software is made compatible with both mobile and computer devices. This software comprises applications/ tools like code editor, debugger, compilers, interpreters, and linkers.
3. System Software
As you saw that application software is designed for end-users and programming is for coders, similarly, our devices require software too. These devices are installed with system software. System software is the reason behind the seamless working of multiple software on the computer.
It can be called the foundation software over which all other computer software work. Any kind of software to run on the computer first needs its system software to be set up on it. The system updates you get on your PC or mobile are the system software getting updated. It makes a few changes to keep all the other software and applications running smoothly.
This software can be single or a collection of tine programs. Some of the examples include office suites, Microsoft windows, Apple’s iOS, etc. which are sometimes running in the background without interfering with the current application you might be working on.
4. Malicious Software
Software created on purpose to harm your device is malicious software. This software gets installed without the knowledge of the user and starts affecting the device in a harmful way. Some of this software intends to rob the user’s personal information and others tend to disrupt the device’s working.
Such program works in secrecy and therefore needs special kinds of programs- antivirus programs to remove them. One should be careful while connecting its device to an unknown source.
It is of utmost importance that software is of good quality. Following are some of the characteristics that good software should hold.
- Accessibility- different people with different needs and even with special abilities should be easily able to access the software.
- Maintenance- the software must not be high maintenance like constant updates or in-application buys.
- Functionality- the software should be able to complete its assigned task.
- Portability- seamless movement of software between devices is portability.
- Reliability- software should be reliable. Reliability comes from its accuracy, preciseness, and durability.
- Compatibility- software should be compatible with all devices. Thus making it comfortable for all types of users.
It is important to understand that there a lot of expectations when we install the software. However, maintaining the software, updating it over time, using it carefully should also be taken into consideration. Any object will only give the described benefits if only used with care and maintained properly.
Kuldeep is the founder and lead author of ArtOfTesting. He is skilled in test automation, performance testing, big data, and CI-CD. He brings his decade of experience to his current role where he is dedicated to educating the QA professionals. You can connect with him on LinkedIn.