Basically, software refers to any set of programs or instructions that run on a computer. It can be purchased through retail computer stores or downloaded over the Internet.
Most software is written in high-level programming languages, which are closer to natural languages than machine languages. These languages are translated into machine-speak using an interpreter. This makes it easier for programmers to write sophisticated software.
System software controls the basic functions of a computer and maintains and coordinates the interactions between the hardware and software. It also provides an environment for other software to run.
Various types of system software include operating systems, application programs, and middleware. Typically, system software runs in the background of a computer. It provides an interface for the software and manages the hardware, such as the CPU.
Various types of applications include word processors, web browsers, and spreadsheets. These applications allow end users to store, format, and print data. Word processors regularly save files to the hard drive. They also help end users write notes and documentation. Word processors are used worldwide.
Some applications are proprietary, such as Microsoft Office. Others are open-source, allowing anyone to view the source code and make modifications. This allows a community of coders to update the software.
In the 1980s, software was sold on floppy disks. Later, software was sold on CDs. Most software is now sold on the Internet. Some programs can cost as much as $3500.
Software can be measured for many factors, including scalability, portability, reliability, and overall performance. It also can be measured for security. It can also be measured for ease of use for various types of people, including people with different languages.