Software is a series of computer instructions and data that tell a computer how to perform. This is rather like an instruction manual which shows a car how to drive. While it’s true that software isn’t something you can build yourself, it doesn’t mean that it’s impossible to create your own software. This is opposed to hardware, where the entire system is constructed and only acts as a way to tell the car how to drive.
As with hardware, software comes in two forms, on-demand and on-site. On-demand applications are what you find on your desktop or laptop. These are typically programmable and allow the user to write their own program code which then instructs the machine.
On-site computer software is slightly different. Instead of being installed onto the machine the programs are downloaded into memory instead. This makes the programs much more stable and reliable, but also means that the on-site software is much larger than the on-demand type. Because of this larger size on the on-site type of software, programming software tends to be quite a bit more expensive than on-demand type.
In addition to the differences between on-site and off-site software development there exists another big difference which goes along with hardware. In computer science, there exists a method called abstraction. This state of mind stems from the fact that software doesn’t know how to act or function on its own. Rather, it operates upon and relies on abstracted, previously built, systems. Because of this philosophy of software development, it is not uncommon for software developers to have several layers of abstraction which enable them to construct better and more intricate programs.
Application software, meanwhile, refers to the set of instructions which allow a computer to perform its normal functions. This is what you see on screen when you use your computer, or when you access particular applications on your desktop or laptop. It can be seen in browsers, and is usually the program or feature that you would use when doing something like browsing the web. This, however, is where the similarities end. Software engineering covers a wide range of different areas of computer science, including database design, web development, network infrastructure, desktop environment design, desktop support, operating systems, multimedia development and multimedia application development.
Applications software, as well as its sister system software, typically perform two functions. First, an application software program lets the end user interacts with the computer software. This could be for input and display purposes, or it could be used to control the computer itself by performing specific tasks. For example, a web browser would let the end user to manipulate web pages; a multimedia player lets the end user to control video output and input; and so forth.