What is Computer Software? - Definition & Applications

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  • 0:00 Computer Software Defined
  • 0:56 Two Basic Examples
  • 1:43 Applications of Software
  • 2:36 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Szymon Machajewski

Szymon has taught Computer Science at a number of Higher Education institutions.

In this lesson, we'll briefly go over the basics of what software is and how it's different from hardware. We'll also talk about a couple of examples and see some common uses of software.

Computer Software Defined

Computer software is programming code executed on a computer processor. The code can be machine-level code, or code written for an operating system. An operating system is software intended to provide a predictable and dependable layer for other programmers to build other software on, which are known as applications. It also provides a dependable layer for hardware manufacturers. This standardization creates an efficient environment for programmers to create smaller programs, which can be run by millions of computers. Software can also be thought of as an expression that contrasts with hardware. The physical components of a computer are the hardware; the digital programs running on the hardware are the software. Software can also be updated or replaced much easier than hardware. Additionally, software can be distributed to a number of hardware receivers. Basically, software is the computer logic computer users interact with.

Two Basic Examples

A machine-level example of software is Basic Input/Output System, or BIOS. When you start the computer, the BIOS loads and runs before your hard drive even connects. The BIOS checks connection to hardware and looks for the operating system to load. You can upgrade the BIOS by flashing, which is when you replace machine-level software stored on the main board of your computer.

A familiar example of application software is Notepad. Notepad runs when the user activates it and it has certain requirements. You need an operating system and hardware processor. The programmers of Notepad wrote software for a specific environment. Once the software is loaded into the computer's memory, the processor is able to read it. The program then becomes a process, and the user can interact with it.

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