Software is a series of instructions and details that tell a specific computer how to perform a specific function. This is unlike with physical hardware where the machine first executes the instructions and actually does the work itself. The term “software” can be used in two different contexts: on-board software and off-board software. Here are some ways you can think about software.
Software development is software engineering, the methodology to create particular software applications that are compatible with specific hardware. It usually includes the creation of a working program (the software) and its use (exception handling, database management, etc. ). Software engineers are responsible for making sure that the application is error free and functional. Software engineers are also involved in writing high quality code that will run efficiently on multiple operating systems.
On-board software is what is installed directly to a PC by the manufacturer. It is the most traditional form of software and is usually available in a bundle or CD-ROM with the system. While this type is relatively outdated now, it still continues to be a strong competitor to application software. The reason for this is because on-board systems usually have better reliability, performance and security.
Off-board software is what comes preinstalled with a specific computer system. This type of software is installed either by the computer manufacturer or the end user through an OEM or OSA contract. This type of software is not as common as on-board systems, because it is usually purchased on a per-install basis. This means that the system software installation must be done through the OEM or the reseller. In recent times, more open source solutions have been developed that may be easier to install and may offer more functionality than the on-board solutions. As such, off-board solutions have been gaining momentum.
Examples include Linux, freeware, open source, office suite, productivity software and others. Freeware is one of the examples that comes to mind. Free software is often supported by the manufacturer of the computer system and users can download and install the software as needed. Examples include Sun’s Open Source or OpenOffice, which are based on the PHP foundation. Open Source examples include PHP, Perl, Python, Apache, MySQL and others.
Examples include productivity software like Microsoft Office products like Word, Excel and PowerPoint. These are productivity applications that help in the overall development of information or product in terms of design and concepts. There are many other examples including financial software, business application software, media and publishing application software. Many of these application software come preinstalled with a computer systems due to their general use nature. They are great for educating and training users, they are ideal for teaching seminars and interactive sessions, and most importantly, they are perfect for facilitating work processes especially when user requirements or tasks cannot be fully completed through the use of screen-based tools.