A Detailed Guide to Types of Software Applications
What are the different types of software applications in vogue today?
- Definition of Software
- System Software and Types of System Software
- Application Software and Types of Application Software
- Functions of an Application Software
- Future of Software
Software program(s) is to a computer what an orchestra conductor is to a symphony. They tell the computer what to do and how to do it in perfect harmony. A computer needs different types of software to perform various tasks ranging from the simplest of tasks like greeting us when we switch on the system to running complex gaming systems that require some serious programming skills. System software can bring in business benefits including, increased productivity, informed decision-making, more reliable data, improved data security, enhanced analysis, better customer service, and increased sales potential.
We have all come a long way from the computers of old that had just one software, which was installed onto individual machines from floppy disks and CD ROMs. We now have multiple categories of application software to suit every need and purpose. While that is wonderful, it also places before us an array of choices. You may be wondering which of these categories of software fulfills the needs of your business. To help you with this, here is a detailed guide to types of software and categories of application software.
Let us begin by understanding the definition of what software is.
Definition of Software
Software is any computer program that enables you to perform certain specific tasks on your computer. It directs the function of all the peripheral devices of the computer, including your mouse, hard drive, monitor, and keyboard, etc. Without software, it would be impossible to operate the hardware. A software comprises two major categories: system software and application software.
System Software and Types of System Software
System software is the interface, or the intermediary. It lets you communicate between the other software and the hardware. There are five types of system software. These are intended to control and coordinate the functions and procedures of computer hardware and, thus, streamline the interaction between software, hardware, and the user.
Types of system software:
- Operating system (OS): It is a system software kernel that is installed first on the computer to allow applications and devices to be identified and become functional. Being the first layer of software, it is loaded into memory each time a computer is powered up. Some types of operating systems are real-time OS, single-user and single-task OS, network OS, and mobile OS.
- Device drivers: These bring computer devices and peripherals to life. Device drivers connect components and external add-ons so that they can perform their intended tasks. Without the driver, the operating system would not assign any duties. The mouse, keyboard, speakers, and printer are a few examples of devices that need drivers to function.
- Firmware: It is the operational software embedded within a ROM, flash, or EPROM memory chip for the operating system to identify it. It manages and controls all the activities of a single hardware directly. Firmware can be upgraded easily without swapping semiconductor chips.
- Programming language translators: These are intermediate programs used to translate high-level language source code to machine language code. Popular language translators include assemblers, compilers, and interpreters. They may be used to perform complete translation of program codes or they may translate each instruction one at a time.
- Utilities: It is intended for diagnostic and maintenance tasks for the computer. Their tasks may range from crucial data security to disk drive defragmentation.
Application Software and Types of Application Software
Application software is a computer program that performs a specific function, be it educational, personal, or business. It is also known as an end-user program or a productivity program. You can think of system software as a cake and the application software as the frosting on top of it. It is the application software (frosting) that you, the user, get to see upfront when you are working with that software.
Each of the computer application software programs is developed to assist you with a particular process that may be related to creativity, productivity, or better communication. It helps you in completing your tasks, be it jotting down notes, completing your online research, setting an alarm, keeping an account log, and even playing games. Unlike system software, computer application software programs are specific in their functionality and do the job that they are designed to do. For instance, a browser is an application used specifically for browsing the Internet. Similarly, MS PowerPoint is an application designed specifically for making presentations. Application software is also termed as a non-essential software. As we saw in the analogy of a cake and its frosting, its requirement is subjective and its absence does not affect the functioning of the system. All the apps that we see on our smartphones are examples of application software.
Picking up the right application for personal or business use can improve function and efficiency. If you do not learn about your options, you may end up with something that does not benefit your business, which will cost you time and resources and affect your productivity. Knowing what types of application software are available to you will help you make an informed decision.
The application software list includes:
- Word processors
- Graphics software
- Database software
- Spreadsheet software
- Presentation software
- Web browsers
- Enterprise software
- Information worker software
- Multimedia software
- Education and reference software
- Content access software
The categories of application software you are required to use depends on your needs, some of which are detailed below:
1. Presentation software:
Presentation software enables you to put forth your thoughts and ideas with ease and with good clarity by using visual information. It lets you display the information in the form of slides. You can make your slide more informative and more engrossing by adding text, images, graphs, and videos. It has three components:
- Text editor to input and format text
- Insert graphics, text, video, and multimedia files
- Slideshow to display the information
2. Web browsers:
These software applications are used to browse the Internet enabling you to locate and retrieve data across the web. The most popular ones are Google Chrome and Internet Explorer.
3. Multimedia software:
This lets you create or record images, and create audio or video files. This software is extensively used in animation, graphics, image, and video editing. Popular examples are the VLC media player and Windows media player.
4. Education and reference software:
This application software, also termed as academic software, is specifically designed to facilitate the learning of a particular subject. Various kinds of tutorial software are included in this category. Some of these are JumpStart titles, MindPlay, and Kid Pix.
5. Graphics software:
Graphics software allows you to edit or make changes in visual data or images. It comprises illustration and picture editor software. Adobe Photoshop and PaintShop Pro are a few examples of graphics software.
6. Spreadsheet software:
Spreadsheet software is used to perform calculations. In this software, data is stored in a table format. The intersecting area, called cells, are separated to define fields such as text, date, time, and number. It allows users to provide formulas and functions to perform calculations. Microsoft Excel is one good example of spreadsheet software.
7. Database software:
Database software is used to create and manage a database. Also known as a DBMS (Database Management System), it helps you organize your data. So, when you run an application, data is fetched from the database, modified, and is stored back in the database. Oracle, MySQL, Microsoft SQL Server, PostgreSQL, MongoDB, and IBM Db2 are some popular databases.
8. Word processing software:
It is used to format and manipulate text, thus, creating memos, letters, faxes, and documents. Word processing software is also used to format and beautify the text. It provides you a whole lot of features aside from thesaurus and synonyms and antonyms. Along with Word Art features, the font option lets you change font color, effect, and style as per your choice. Grammar and spell-check options are also available to check for errors.
9. Simulation software:
Simulation software is used in the fields of engineering, education, testing, and video games, etc. It is used where work on the actual system is unacceptable, inaccessible, or maybe dangerous. It is a program that lets you study or observe an operation, or phenomenon through simulation without actually doing that operation. The best examples of the simulation are in the field of robotics, flight systems, and weather forecast, etc.
Apart from these, there are several others in the category of application software that serve specific purposes.
However, application software can also be classified based on their shareability and availability. Some such categories are:
As the very name indicates, it is available free of cost. You can download it from the Internet and use it without any fee. However, this software does not allow you to modify it or charge a fee for distributing it. Adobe Reader and Skype are good examples of this software.
This is distributed freely to the users on a trial basis, usually with a limited time offer. The users are expected to pay if they want to continue to use the software. Some examples of shareware are WinZip and Adobe Acrobat.
12. Open source:
This type of software is available along with the source code that allows you to modify the software, and even add features to the software. These could either be free or paid. Moodle and Apache Web Server are some examples.
13. Closed source:
Most of the software packages that you use belong to this category. These are usually chargeable and have intellectual property rights or patents over the source code. It usually comes with restricted use.
Functions of an Application Software
Application software programs are designed to facilitate a large number of functions. Some of these include managing information, constructing visuals, manipulating data, coordinating resources, and calculating figures.
Future of Software
The world is becoming increasingly computerized. With that growth, different types of application software will continue to evolve. Several software applications are being created as it is a great financial option for the users as well as the creators. The demand for custom software development, tailored to the requirements of a business is increasing now more than ever before. From simple customizations to full-cycle software development, Fingent helps address all your specific business requirements, leveraging our software development capabilities.
If you have further questions or want to get started on choosing and implementing the right software for your business, give us a call and we will help you get there.