Computer Software Examples & Types | What is Software?

What is computer software? Computer software refers to programming code that is executed on the computer hardware that facilitates the completion of tasks by a computer. What is a computer program? A computer program is a specific sequence of instructions written in programming code that is carried out by a computer processor to complete a specific task. Thus, a computer program is a piece of software designed for a certain use or task.

Computer software examples include operating systems, which allow for easy use of a computer’s processing power, as well as applications like Notepad and Firefox. Software can be physically stored on the hard drive or at another location such as a USB drive, or it can be cloud-based and hosted over the internet.

Computer Software Examples

Since personal computers have become ubiquitous in many countries, computer software can be found across the globe. In fact, because of the widespread use of computers in both personal and business contexts, as well as the integral role that the internet plays in the global economy, it is difficult to imagine how today’s world would function without computer software. A list of some of the most well-known computer software examples includes:

  • Operating systems (such as Microsoft Windows, Linux, macOS)
  • Productivity Software (for example, Microsoft Office Suite including Word, Excel, and PowerPoint)
  • Internet Browsers (including Firefox, Chrome, and Safari)

These and other specific examples of computer software are used many times per day by individuals and companies around the world.

computer software definition

Types of Computer Software

There are many examples of specific computer software that play a role in personal and professional computer systems. Computer software can generally be divided into two categories: system software and application software. System software includes technical programs that communicate with the computer’s hardware, including its processor, and provides a framework for application software. Application software includes the programs that do not relate to the basic functioning of the computer, but allow you to do tasks, such as internet browsers or word processors.

System Software

System software is a category that includes many kinds of software, all of which directly relate to the functioning of the computer itself. System software includes highly technical programs that allow users to make use of the computer’s capabilities. This type of software interacts with the computer’s hardware, such as its processor and motherboard, and provides a framework for users to be able to use other applications on their computers. System software could thus be thought of as a bridge between a computer’s hardware and the applications that people use. Included among other system software are programs that help the computer to operate at its maximum efficiency. Some examples of system software include:

  • Operating Systems
  • Utility Software
  • Firmware
  • Device Drivers

Operating systems like Microsoft Windows or macOS are essential because they manage hardware and provide basic services for other programs. They are a software layer that creates an environment for programmers to write application programs. Utility software includes many programs like debuggers, disk defragmenters, antivirus software, and registry cleaners, all of which help a computer to run efficiently. Firmware refers to programs that are built into physical hardware, machine-level software that allows for communication between hardware types, as seen in the Basic Input/Output System (BIOS) that can be found in motherboards. Device drivers are used by specific devices like speakers, printers, or a computer’s mouse and allow those devices to integrate properly into the operating system

Application Software

Application software is another type of computer software, one that is less technical than system software. Users are generally much more familiar with application software because it includes the programs that allow users to perform tasks. Some examples of commonly used application software include:

  • Web browsers
  • Word processors
  • Multimedia software
  • Spreadsheet software
  • Email clients
  • Graphics software