Software Definition

What is Software?

Software is a collection of data or computer instructions that tell the computer how to work. Software performs the tasks or functions of the programs you use on your computer. Without software like your operating system, browser, games, and apps, your computer would not know how to do anything useful.

Types of Software

There are two main types of software:

System Software

System software manages and controls the computer’s basic functions and hardware. It tells the computer how to operate and function. System software includes operating systems like Windows, macOS, Linux, iOS and Android. It also includes utility programs like disk defragmenters, that allow you to modify your hard disk, and antivirus software.

Application Software

Application software allows users to accomplish and complete tasks. The application software will employ the hardware, system software, and other application software on the computer to be functional. Common application software includes web browsers like Chrome and Firefox, create documents using Microsoft Office, edit images with Photoshop, and games.

Software Features

All software has common features and attributes:

– Software is intangible. You cannot physically touch software like you can computer hardware. Software is comprised of coded instructions.

– Software is created by and for humans. Software allows users to complete tasks on a computer. The coded instructions are written and debugged by software developers and engineers.

– Software requires hardware to operate. The hardware components like the hard drive, RAM, and CPU are required for any software code to run properly.

– Software is easy to replicate. The same copy of software can be installed on multiple computers without needing to rewrite the code. Software can be easily distributed over the internet.

– Software has licenses that dictate how and where it can be used. Software is protected under copyright, so developers license their software to specify how it may be legally used.

Software Development

Software goes through a development process before it is ready for use:

– Planning – Developers plan out what functions and features the software needs based on user requirements. Platforms, required resources, risks and timelines are considered.

– Design – The overall software architecture and interface is designed. Diagrams and models are created to specify how the code is written and structured.

– Coding – Software programmers write the code using programming languages like Java, Python, JavaScript, C++ and more. The code is typed into an editor or IDE.

– Testing – The software is tested for bugs and errors. Testing ensures the software runs like it is supposed to.

– Deployment – Once testing is completed, the software is released and made available to users.

– Maintenance – Software needs to be updated and fixed constantly. Developers issue patches, updates and new versions to fix bugs and add new features.


Software is an integral component of all computing devices and electronic systems. It allows the hardware to be functional and perform programmed tasks. The two main types of software are system software that manages the computer, and application software that allows users to do work. Software goes through a complex development process before it is ready for real world use. Without software to give instructions, computers would be useless.

Cloud Computing and Software

Cloud computing has changed how software is delivered and managed. With the cloud, software and data are hosted on remote servers accessed via the internet, instead of being installed locally on user devices. Some benefits of cloud-based software include:


Cloud software can be accessed from any device, anywhere, at any time, as long as there is an internet connection. This provides more flexibility for users.


The cloud allows real-time collaboration across teams and organizations. Multiple people can access the same files and data from disparate locations.


Cloud infrastructure can scale to meet computing demands as needed. More or less storage, bandwidth and processing power can be provisioned instantly.


Data on the cloud is distributed across multiple servers, so if one server goes down the data is still available. Cloud service providers deliver high reliability.

Cost Savings

No hardware needs to be purchased for cloud-based software. It is paid for as a service subscription, saving on capital expenditures.

Artificial Intelligence and Software

Artificial intelligence (AI) technology is being integrated into all types of software and services:


AI can analyze data to make predictions about future outcomes and behaviors. This allows software to be proactive.


AI software can learn about individual users to deliver customized experiences. Recommendation engines are an example.


AI has enabled more processes to be automated without human intervention, such as chatbots.


AI algorithms can detect malware, cyber threats and fraud in real-time. AI cybersecurity is becoming critical.

Computer Vision

AI can analyze visual data like images and video to identify objects, scenes and faces. This is used in photo editing apps.

Low-Code Platforms

Low-code platforms allow software to be built with minimal hand-coding. Some benefits:

Faster Deployment

Apps can be built 5-10x faster than traditional coding, accelerating digital transformation.

Citizen Development

Business users with little technical training can build simple apps, freeing up IT resources.


Apps can be built for web, mobile, desktop and other platforms from a single codebase.

UX Focus

More time can be spent on UX design rather than coding mechanics.


Low-code leverages APIs to easily connect modern services and data sources.

The Future of Software

Some emerging software development trends include:

– Serverless computing using cloud services like AWS Lambda
– Increased use of open source software
– Microservices architecture and containers like Docker
– Automating more software engineering tasks with AI
– Quantum computing applications
– VR/AR integration
– Blockchain technology across industries
– Everything-as-a-Service (XaaS) models

Software will continue to evolve as new technologies emerge. The role of software is becoming even more critical in our digital world.

Leave a Comment