Many people hear the words “software” and “hardware” thrown around in reference to computers and other electronics, but don’t necessarily know what these terms mean. Both hardware and software are integral to a computer’s operation. Hardware is the physical parts that make up the computer – its memory, its storage space, its processor, and so on. Software are the actual programs that run on a computer. Without hardware, software wouldn’t have any way to run. Without software, computer hardware would just be a big, expensive calculator.
Software comes in a variety of different forms, from the absolute essentials to pure entertainment programs. The functions and uses for software are practically endless.
Operating System Software
Operating systems are one of the most important types of software. They are essentially what let’s us communicate with our computers. Operating systems have come along way since their original incarnations. Where before, you had to use text only to give our computer commands, we now use point-and-click interfaces like Microsoft Windows and Mac OS X. Without operating system software, we wouldn’t be able to tell our computers to execute other programs unless we had a degree in computer science!
The advent of the Internet brought unimaginable possibilities to what computers could do, but it also brought potential danger in the form of viruses. Unfortunately, there are malicious people out there who want to infect your computer with viruses that can steal your private information or just straight up destroy your system’s functionality. Antivirus is your computer’s security guard – it constantly monitors data flowing into your computer and makes sure that nothing harmful gets in.
Office software is a class of software that covers a wide range of different functions. The most common and often used type of office software is the word processor. Documents, such as the one you’re reading now, are produced through word processor software. Other types of office software include databases, spreadsheets, and presentation software, as well as many other types.
It’s becoming more and more common for computers to also serve as media centers. As such, many computers have software packages that help us enjoy multimedia experiences. We have music programs that let us store and listen to our music libraries, as well as video players that allow us to play DVDs and downloaded movies. Computer gaming is also a popular pastime, with games ranging form simple Internet based games to hardcore games that can outmatch those found on the hottest gaming consoles.