Software is basically a set of instructions that tell a computer exactly how to perform a certain task. The computer itself actually does all the hard work and is very different than hardware, where the system is merely assembled. With hardware, the system has to be put together piece by piece through a series of interconnected hardware devices. This results in more parts, and thus a higher risk of breakage. Software on the other hand is usually self-contained meaning that there are no other pieces needed to put it together.
Software engineering refers to the use of computer science to create software. Software engineers then go on to produce this software in the form of programs or applications. These programs or applications are used by end users to accomplish their tasks. Software engineers can specialize in a particular area such as databases, web services, gaming systems, and so forth. In fact, software engineering can be applied to just about any field in computer science.
One area in which software engineering is becoming increasingly important is in personal productivity software. Personal computers have helped to drastically reduce the cost of business and office equipment, making them much more affordable for most individuals. However, one of the main limitations of personal computers is that they are not really designed to support the type of programs that end users want to run.
Application software is used to run computer systems. Applications software programs can either be free or they can be sold for a certain price. Some of the examples of commercially available application software programs include Microsoft Office, Sun Staroffice 8, Microsoft Works, and Adobe Acrobat Reader. Some examples of open source application software programs include OpenOffice, Linux Dashboard, Pearl, and Linux Navigator. Both of these types of application software programs are free, while proprietary computer system software like Sun’s SunOS and Microsoft’s Windows are sold for a fee.
One major drawback of using free software programs for your computer is that they often lack the same quality of security and reliability that paid computer software programs have. This is because many people do not spend the time learning to use the coding that is necessary to allow free software programs to have the same functionality as paid software programs. For this reason, it is not uncommon for free software programs to experience numerous vulnerabilities. Once a vulnerability is discovered, it is often easy for a skilled hacker to take advantage of the vulnerability and gain unauthorized access to your computer.
Another way that application software can benefit you is through the use of hardware manufacturers. If you have a printer that does not work, for example, you might be able to get it running again by installing the correct printer drivers. Similarly, if you have a wireless card that is not functioning, you might be able to repair the hardware so that it works again. Hardware manufacturers are always looking to release new hardware that will provide their customers with better performance, and often give them a portion of the profits from the sale of the new hardware.