What is Software, its type, history and its usage?
What is Software, its type, history and its usage?

What is Software, its type, history and its usage?

Md Ashique

on May-07-2024

Different types and examples of software, Why software is Important for Business Automation?

What is Software?

 

Software is a collection of data, programmes, or instructions that run machines and carry out particular functions. It is the antithesis of hardware, which speaks about a computer's external components. A device's applications, scripts, and programmes are collectively referred to as software. It can be viewed as the computer's variable component, with hardware serving as its fixed component.

Application software and system software are the two primary types of software. Software that accomplishes tasks or meets a specific purpose is called an application. System software serves as a platform for applications to run on while managing the hardware of a computer.

Additional categories of software comprise middleware, which functions as a mediator between applications and system software, driver software, which manages computer peripherals and devices, and programming software, which offers the programming tools required by software developers.

Early software was sold with the hardware it operated on and was created specifically for a given computer. Software started to be marketed on floppy discs in the 1980s, and then on CDs and DVDs. The majority of software is now bought and downloaded straight from the internet. Websites for vendors or application service providers often contain software.

    Click Here to Deep Dive into Software

 

Different types and examples of software

The following are the most popular kinds of software among the many categories:

  • Application Software:-Application software, the most popular kind of software, is a computer programme package that works with another application or for the user in certain situations. Applications can be standalone or comprise a collection of programs that execute the application on the user's behalf. Office suites, graphical software, databases and database management systems, web browsers, word processors, software development tools, picture editors, and communication platforms are a few examples of contemporary applications.
  • System Software:-These software packages are made to function with the hardware and application software on a computer. The actions and features of the hardware and software are coordinated by the system software. It also manages how the computer hardware functions and offers a platform or environment in which all other applications can operate. System software is best shown by the operating system (OS), which controls all other computer programmes. The firmware, computer language interpreters, and system utilities are other instances of system software.
  • Driver Software:- software for drivers. This software, sometimes referred to as device drivers, is frequently regarded as a subset of system software. Device drivers give linked peripherals and devices the control they need to carry out their intended functions on a computer. Device drivers are necessary for the operation of any connected device on a computer. Software that is included with any nonstandard hardware, such as unique game controllers, and software that makes standard gear, such as USB storage devices, keyboards, headphones, and printers, possible are two examples.
  • Intermediary Software:- Software that acts as a mediator between two different types of application software or between an application and the system is referred to as middleware. For instance, middleware allows Word and Excel to communicate with Microsoft Windows. Additionally, it can be used to transmit a remote work request from an application running on one type of OS-equipped computer to another application running on a different OS. It also makes older apps compatible with more recent ones.
  • Programming Software:- Programming software is used by computer programmers to write code. Programmers can create, write, test, and debug other software programmes with the use of programming tools and software. Assemblers, compilers, debuggers, and interpreters are a few examples of software used in programming.

 

 

How does the software work?

All software gives computers the instructions and information they require to function and satisfy user demands. Application software and system software, on the other hand, operate very differently from one another.

Application software

Application software is made up of numerous programmes that carry out particular tasks for users, such as accessing websites and creating reports. Programmes can carry out tasks for other programmes. Computer applications depend on the operating system (OS) and other supporting system software programmes to function; they cannot run alone.

                                                                                Installed on the user's computer, these desktop programs require the RAM to perform operations. They don't require an internet connection to function; they only take up space on the computer's hard drive. Desktop programs, however, have to follow the specifications of the hardware on which they operate.

On the other hand, web applications don't need system software or hardware to function; all they need is internet access. As a result, individuals with web browser-capable devices can open web applications. Users can launch the application from Windows, Mac, Linux, or any other OS because the components that make up the application's functionality are located on the server.

System Software

System software resides amidst the computer hardware and the application software.System software manages the fundamental operations of the computer while operating in the background, so users do not directly interact with it. For users to execute high-level application software and carry out particular tasks, this software synchronises the hardware and software of a system. When a computer system turns on, system software starts up and runs continuously as long as the system is powered on.

What are the differences between system and application software?                                                                                  

System Software vs Application Software

System software

Application Software

General-purpose software that manages basic system resources and processes.

Software that performs specific tasks to meet user needs.

Written in low-level assembly language or machine code.

Written in higher-level languages, such as Python and JavaScript.

Must meet specific hardware needs; interacts closely with hardware.

It does not take hardware into account and doesn't interact directly with hardware.

Installed at the same time as the OS, usually by the manufacturer.

The user or admin installs software when needed.

It runs any time the computer is on.

The user triggers and stops the program.

It works in the background and users don't usually access it.

Runs in the foreground and users work directly with the software to perform specific tasks.

Runs independently.

Needs system software to run.

Is necessary for the system to function.

Isn't needed for the system to function.

Here are the key differences between system and application software.

 

Software Design and Implementation?

Project managers utilise the software development lifecycle as a framework to explain the phases and duties involved in software creation. The planning phase, followed by an analysis of the users' needs and the creation of comprehensive requirements, are the initial stages in the design lifecycle. The goal of the design phase is to outline how to satisfy those user needs following the preliminary requirements analysis.

After development work is finished, software testing takes place in the implementation phase. Any tasks necessary to maintain the system operating are included in the maintenance phase.

A description of the software's structure, data models, system component interfaces, and possibly the techniques the software engineer will employ are all included in the software design.

User requirements are converted into a format that computer programmers can utilise to code and implement software through the software design process. Iteratively adding details and refining the design as they go, software engineers create the software architecture.

Among the various forms of software design are the following:

  • Architectural Design- This is the basic design, which uses architectural design tools to determine the system's general structure, key components, and interrelationships.
  • High-Level Design- This second design layer focuses on how the system can be built as modules backed by a software stack, including all of its components. The connections between data flow and the many system modules and operations are described in a high-level design.
  • Detailed design- All of the implementation specifics required for the chosen architecture are the main emphasis of this third design layer.

Why software is Important for Business Automation?

Software plays a veryimportant role in business automation as it facilitates process optimisation, boosts productivity, decreases manual labour, minimises errors, improves accuracy, and enables scalability. It also helps companies to maintain their competitiveness, adjust to shifting market dynamics, enhance customer support, and ultimately accomplish their objectives more successfully.

 

In today's fast-paced business environment, automation is no longer just a convenience—it's a necessity. One of the key components driving automation is software.

Here's why software is essential for automating business processes:

  1. Streamlined Operations: Software allows businesses to automate repetitive tasks, freeing up valuable time and resources for more strategic activities.
  2. Increased Efficiency: By automating manual processes, software helps businesses complete tasks more quickly and with fewer errors, leading to higher productivity.
  3. Cost Savings: Automation through software reduces the need for manual labor, resulting in cost savings over time.
  4. Improved Accuracy: Automated processes are less prone to human error, ensuring greater accuracy and reliability in business operations.
  5. Scalability: Software-based automation solutions can easily scale up or down to accommodate changes in business needs or growth.
  6. Enhanced Customer Service: Automation can streamline customer-facing processes, leading to faster response times and improved customer satisfaction.
  7. Data Analysis: Many software tools include analytics capabilities, allowing businesses to gather insights from data and make informed decisions.
  8. Compliance and Risk Management: Software can help businesses ensure compliance with regulations and manage risk more effectively through automated monitoring and reporting.
  9. Innovation: With the right software in place, businesses can innovate more rapidly, bringing new products and services to market faster than competitors.
  10. Competitive Advantage: Ultimately, businesses that leverage software for automation gain a competitive edge by operating more efficiently, effectively, and adaptively in today's digital landscape.
  11. Profit &Loss Management: Software-based automation provides businesses with real-time visibility into their financial performance, enabling better decision-making and optimization of profit margins.

In conclusion, software plays a vital role in business automation, enabling organizations to streamline operations, increase efficiency, reduce costs, and ultimately stay ahead of the curve in an increasingly competitive market.

How does the software development lifecycle work?

Diagram of the software development lifecycle

Find out the six main steps involved in developing software.

 

How to maintain software quality?

If the programme satisfies its functional and nonfunctional requirements, it is considered to be of high quality.

The software's functional requirements specify its intended functions. They consist of technical specifications, data processing and manipulation, computations, and any other particular function that identifies the objectives of an application.

Quality attributes, sometimes referred to as nonfunctional requirements, specify how the system must function. Portability, disaster recovery, security, privacy, and usability are examples of nonfunctional needs.

Software testing examines the product's overall usability, performance, security, and compatibility to make sure it satisfies requirements. It also finds and fixes technical problems in the programme source code.

The dimensions of software quality include the following characteristics:

  • Accessibility-The degree of software usability that a wide range of users can attain, including those who need adaptive technologies like voice recognition and screen magnifiers.
  • Compatibility- The program's compatibility across multiple platforms, including various OSs, devices, and browsers.
  • Efficiency- The software's capacity to function well without squandering money, time, energy, or resources.
  • Functionality-The functionality of software to do its designated tasks.
  • Installability- The capability of the software to be installed in a specified terrain.
  • Localization- The several languages, time zones, and other characteristics that a software can operate in.
  • Maintainability- The degree of ease with which the programme can be altered to include new features, address bugs, etc.
  • Performance- How quickly the programme operates when subjected to a certain load.
  • Portability-The software's portability, or its ability to move effortlessly across locations.
  • Reliability-The capacity of the software to carry out a certain task under particular circumstances for a predetermined amount of time without making any mistakes.
  • Scalability- The measure of the software's capability to increase or drop performance in response to changes in its processing demands.
  • Security- The software's defences against data loss, theft, illegal access, privacy invasion, and dangerous malware, among other things.
  • Testability-How simple it is to run software tests.
  • Usability- How simple the software is to use.

 

Once the software is in use, developers must continuously modify it to satisfy changing client needs and address issues that users report to preserve its quality. This includes enhancing features, resolving bugs, and making necessary code adjustments in software to avoid problems. Developers' capacity to meet these maintenance needs determines how long a product remains on the market.

 

Developers can make four different kinds of adjustments when it comes to maintenance, including:

  1. Corrective-Users frequently find and report bugs—such as code flaws and other issues that prevent the software from fulfilling its requirements—that developers need to address.
  2. Adaptive-It is imperative for software developers to make frequent modifications to their products to guarantee compatibility with evolving hardware and software environments, such as the release of new operating systems.
  3. Perfective-These are tweaks that increase the functionality of the system, including bettering the user interface or optimising applications to run faster.
  4. Preventive-These adjustments, which involve reorganising and optimising code, are made to prevent software from malfunctioning.

Modern software development

Teams from IT operations and software development are combined under the DevOps organisational model. It fosters interaction and cooperation between these two factions. The use of automated and programmable infrastructure in iterative software development processes is also referred to by this term.

Software licensing and patents

A legally enforceable agreement that limits the use and distribution of software is called a software licence.

Software licences usually grant users permission to make one or more copies of the programme without infringing on copyright. The licence describes the obligations of each party to the contract and may impose limitations on the usage of the software.

Fair use of the software, liability limitations, guarantees, disclaimers, and prohibitions against infringement on third parties' intellectual property rights are all common provisions in software licencing terms and conditions.

Generally, licences exist for two types of software: free software, which allows users to run, examine, modify, and distribute the programme, and proprietary software, which is still the property of the company, team, or individual who developed it. Software that is developed cooperatively and makes its source code openly accessible is referred to as open source. Similar to free software, users can run, copy, share, and alter open-source software under licences.

Software providers have switched from offering software licences for sale once to a software-as-a-service subscription model within the past 20 years. Customers can purchase software from software providers and access it via the Internet by paying a subscription fee. The software is hosted in the cloud.

While copyright can hinder others from stealing a developer's work, it is powerless to prohibit someone from independently creating the identical programme without stealing. However, even if the other person built the software independently, a developer can use a patent to stop them from utilising the functional features of the software that they claim in the patent.

Software is generally more likely to be patented the more sophisticated it is. A software product might be eligible for patent protection, for instance, if it develops a novel type of database structure or improves a computer's overall functionality.

History of software

Software wasn't even a word until the late 1950s. Even while many kinds of programming software were being developed at the time, they were usually not made accessible for purchase. As a result, users frequently had to create their own software. These users were primarily scientists and major corporations.

The following is a brief timeline of the history of software:

  • June 21, 1948.At the University of Manchester in England, computer scientist “Tom Kilburn” creates the first programme ever written for the Manchester Baby computer.
  • Early 1950s.The first operating system is developed by General Motors for the IBM 701 electronic data processing machine. The operating system for general motors is known as GM OS.
  • 1958.The term "software" is first used by statistician John Tukey in a piece on computer programming.
  • Late 1960s.In the 1980s and 1990s, floppy discs were introduced and used for software distribution.
  • Nov. 3, 1971.The first Unix OS edition is released by AT&T.
  • 1977.The Apple II is released, and demand for consumer software soars.
  • 1979. VisiCorp releases VisiCalc for the Apple II, the first spreadsheet software for personal computers.
  • 1981.Microsoft introduces MS-DOS in 1981. This operating system was used by many of the first IBM computers. The average consumer can now purchase commercial software after IBM starts selling it.
  • 1980s.The 1980s. PC hard drives become the norm, and computer makers begin including software with their units.
  • 1983.With Richard Stallman's GNU (GNU is not Unix) Linux project, which aims to provide a Unix-like operating system with freely distributable, copyable, and editable source code, the free software movement is established in 1983.
  • 1984.In order to run Apple's Macintosh range, Mac OS is released.
  • Mid-1980s.Important software applications are released, such as Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, and AutoDesk AutoCAD.
  • 1985.Microsoft Windows 1.0 is launched in 1985.
  • 1989.As CD-ROMs replace floppy discs as the standard, they can store far more data. Large software packages can be deployed in a quick, simple, and reasonably priced manner.
  • 1991.In 1991, the open-source Linux operating system (OS) saw the release of the Linux kernel.
  • 1997.The year 1997. The introduction of DVDs, which have a larger capacity than CDs, allowed for the consolidation of software packages, including the Microsoft Office Suite, onto a single disc.
  • 1999.Salesforce.com pioneered online software distribution through cloud computing.
  • 2000.Software as a service (SaaS) is a word that gains popularity.
  • 2007.The iPhone is introduced, and the popularity of mobile applications grows.
  • 2010 to the present. From 2010 until now. As more people purchase and download software from the internet and cloud, DVDs are becoming less and less relevant. Subscription-based approaches are being adopted by vendors, and SaaS is now widespread.