A computer generally consists of two components: Hardware and Software. The purpose of software is to use the hardware components. So far, we have seen the hardware components. Now, let’s learn about the software related concepts.
A program is a set of instructions for solving a particular problem. Using programs a human can use the underlying hardware components like CPU, Memory etc.
Software is a set of programs. Computer software is divided into two broad categories: 1) System software and 2) Application software. System software manages the computer’s hardware resources. It provides the interface between the hardware and the users but does nothing for users to use the hardware. Application software, on the other hand, is directly responsible for helping users solve their problems.
The various types of software are as shown in the below diagram:
System Software: This consists of programs that manage the hardware resources of a computer and perform required information processing tasks. These programs are divided into three classes: 1) Operating System, 2) System Support and 3) System Development.
1) Operating System: Operating system provides the interface between the application software/user and hardware. The primary purpose of this software is to keep the system operating in an efficient manner while allowing the users access to the system. Examples: Windows XP, Vista, Seven, Linux, UNIX, MAC OSX, MAC Lion etc.
2) System Support: This provides utilities and other operating services to work with hardware. This software comes along with the operating system. Examples: Disk format software, Sort programs etc.
3) System Development: This includes various programs that help the developers to create application software. Examples: Compilers, Interpreters, Debuggers, Linkers etc.
Application Software: This software allows the users to use the computer for various purposes. Application software is divided into two classes: 1) General purpose software and 2) Application specific software.
1) General Purpose Software: This software can be used for more than one purpose. Examples: Microsoft Office Suite, Photoshop, Visual Studio etc.
2) Application Specific Software: This software is used only for a specific purpose. Example: Tally, Turbo C Complier etc.
The relationship between hardware, system software and application software is as shown in the below diagram: