4 Main Types of Software
Software comes in different forms, from programs that manage our financial accounts and keep track of inventory to tools that help us create documents. But all of it falls under four main types.
Unlike application and system software, which are designed for end-users, programming software is meant for computer programmers. It takes low-level computer languages and translates them into code that computers or mobile devices can understand.
1. Application Software
Application software performs a variety of tasks and functions based on user requests. Some examples include word processing software like Microsoft Word, photo editing software such as Adobe Photoshop, real-time online communication tools like Skype, and video players like VLC Media Player.
This type of software typically comes as a suite and is closed source. It is designed to work on a computer or mobile device for end-users.
It is often used in businesses to manage information, processes, and data. It is also helpful for businesses to stay connected with their customers. Some examples of application software include customer relationship management (CRM), Enterprise Resource Planning, and business process management. These types of software are designed to help businesses grow and operate efficiently. They also help companies stay competitive by enabling them to meet their customers’ needs more quickly and effectively. They also help businesses streamline their operations and reduce costs. They do this by automating workflows and reducing manual processes.
2. System Software
System software is what enables all of the other computer programs and hardware to function and interact with each other. It acts as an intermediator or middle layer between the user and the hardware. When a computer is turned on, it’s the system software that gets initialized and loaded into memory. It doesn’t have a user interface and isn’t used by end users.
It’s usually written in a low-level computer language and designed to be as efficient as possible. This makes it hard for users to manipulate and requires a high level of skill to use.
Examples of system software include operating systems, device drivers, compilers, debuggers, and other programming tools. They also include utility software like antiviruses, disk cleanup and management software, file compression programs, and more. This category also includes software that performs a limited set of tasks or functions for end-users like word processors, spreadsheets, and database programs. These are sometimes referred to as productivity software or end-user programs.
Middleware is a vital part of software because it provides dynamic conduits that facilitate communication and connectivity among different applications, tools, and data sources. It extends the reach of an operating system beyond its native systems by enabling the exchange of information between software platforms and devices that weren’t designed to communicate with each other.
For instance, enterprise portal servers are classified as middleware because they enable front-end integration. They take input from users and create interactions between the user’s device or computer, back-end systems and services, and software applications.
Additionally, middleware can deliver customizable solutions that align with diverse business strategies. For example, it can offer templates for common integration patterns and provide abstractions that simplify complex underlying processes. It also fortifies security by embedding advanced network security protocols and robust authentication mechanisms. This is important for safeguarding sensitive data and maintaining system integrity. It’s also helpful for ensuring scalability and managing traffic in distributed environments like multi-cloud or containerized systems.
4. Driver Software
System software programs are the underlying software that manages your computer’s hardware and provides an environment or platform for application software to operate. This includes the OS itself, as well as other system software like device drivers, programming language translators and utility tools.
Device drivers are specialized software that operate computer devices and peripherals that plug into your PC. They communicate with your operating system and other application software by relaying commands from the OS to the hardware, and delivering outputs or status/messages back to the OS.
A great way to think about it is that driver software acts as a translator between the different language versions of a piece of hardware. For example, if your video card uses different internal data structures than another company’s similar product, you need to have the same software driver install in order for the two products to work together. Think of the driver as the bridge between your PC and all its components.