Software – Concept, types, examples, free software and hardware

We explain what software is, types and examples. Also, what is the hardware and the characteristics of free software.

User information and processed data make up the software.

What is a software?

The term software is an English word that was taken by other languages ​​and designates any intangible (and non-physical) component that is part of devices such as computers, mobile phones or tablets and that allows its operation.

The software It is made up of a set of applications and programs designed to fulfill various functions within a system. In addition, it is made up of user information and processed data.

The programs that are part of the software tell the hardware (physical part of a device), by means of instructions, the steps to follow.

Software types

app software
An application software is designed to perform one or more tasks at a time.

Software is classified according to its function in:

  • System software. Programs that give the user the ability to interact with the system, to exercise control over the hardware. The system software is also provided as support for other programs. For example: operating systems or servers.
  • Programming software. Programs designed as tools that allow a programmer to develop computer programs. They use techniques and a specific programming language. For example: compilers or multimedia editors.
  • Application software. Programs designed to perform one or more specific tasks at the same time, can be automatic or assisted. For example: video games or media players.

Software examples

There are many examples of software, which are classified according to their function in:

  • Image editing software. For example: Adobe Photoshop, Paintshop, GIMP.
  • Word processor software. For example: Microsoft Word, Word Pad, Notepad.
  • Audio software. For example: Adobe Audition, Abelton, Pro Tools.
  • Communication software. For example: Facebook, Skype, Zoom.
  • Design and architecture software. For example: AutoCAD, Adobe Illustrator, Revit.
  • Accounting software. For example: Loggro, Xero, Nubox.
  • Operating system software. For example: Linus, MacOS, Windows.
  • Virus protection software. For example: AVG Antivirus, McAfee, Panda.
  • Programming software. For example: Microsoft Visual Studio, Xcode, Lazarus.

Software and hardware

Every device is made up of both the intangible part, the software, and the tangible part, the hardware. Hardware is the set of material elements that are part of an electronic device. For example: in the case of a computer, the hardware consists of the monitor, the keyboard, the mouse, among others.

Both software and hardware are key pieces for the correct execution of a computer or mobile device. Users would not be able to run software without the presence of hardware and, in turn, hardware is useless without software. Both are opposite but complementary, so they work together.

Each device is made up of different pieces of hardware that can be electronic, electrical or mechanical and that fulfill a specific function. For example: a storage memory or a video card.

There is the main hardware, essential for the correct operation of the device, and the complementary hardware, made up of accessories with specific functionalities.

Free software

Free software is software in which users can access its source code to study, copy or modify it.

The term and the ideas that free software encompasses were introduced in 1984 by the American programmer Richard Matthew Stallman, who created the Free Software Foundation in order to spread this type of software and rescue the idea of ​​user freedom.

Software is considered free when:

  • Can be used for any purpose.
  • It can be studied, know its operation and modify if necessary.
  • Copies can be distributed.
  • Can be improved by any user.

There is a tendency to confuse the idea of ​​free software with free software, but it is important to bear in mind that not all free software is free, as not all free software is free.

Nor should the concept of free software be confused with that of open source, since the latter does not always guarantee the four conditions.

Any software that does not guarantee the four freedoms is considered non-free. In these cases, it is usually the creators or owners of the license who modify and regulate the distribution of the software.

Examples of free software are the GNU operating system or the Open Office word processor.