10 Computer Software Examples (Plus Definition and FAQs)

Updated July 31, 2023

Computer software is a key component to allowing your devices to work as intended and help you complete your goals. There are several categories of software you may use at work depending on your needs. Understanding the different types of computer software examples can help you determine the ones you may find most useful for your professional or personal usage. In this article, we discuss what computer software is, provide 10 examples and answer some commonly asked questions about the types of software.

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What is computer software?

Computer software is a series of programs, data and instructions used in a computer's hardware to help the device operate and you complete tasks. Hardware is the physical components that comprise a computer, such as the graphics card, data storage and motherboard. Software is important because it allows your computer to perform important tasks while also allowing you to work efficiently on your device.

Businesses can consider computer software as a critical component of their operations because it can help them complete its projects and advance its goals. As a professional, it's important to consider the software programs carefully and understand how to implement them in your work.

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10 types of computer software examples

Here's a list of 10 computer software examples you can use:

1. Application software

The most common type of software is application software, or apps, which is performed by the end-user and lets you complete your tasks. An end-user is the individual using the device. Individuals may also refer to these applications as non-essential software. You can install these applications on your devices yourself. Additionally, several types of application software can help you complete many tasks. Here are some types of application software you can use:

  • Word processing apps: This type of application allows you to complete writing tasks, such as writing, editing and formatting. With this tool, you can also create and edit tables and print documents as needed.

  • Spreadsheet apps: A spreadsheet application can help you complete tasks to compute and organize data. With this tool, you can store business data, create budgets and generate reports and charts.

  • Databases: This type of application allows you to store and sort business information in fields, records and files. With a database app, you can enter and edit data, maintain business files and create new records.

  • Applications suites: Companies create application suites, which are composed of a few different but related applications. An application suite can have similar interfaces, making it easier for you to navigate between the applications when you're completing tasks.

  • Multimedia apps: This type of application can contain a combination of text, animation, audio, video and image content. You can use these tools to create content, assemble and watch videos and record and mix audio tracks.

  • Communication apps: Communication applications allow you to connect with other individuals who also have these applications to share text, video and audio. These tools can help you host meetings remotely and work with other professionals who may live across the country.

  • Internet browsers: These types of applications allow you to access the internet through different host providers. With this tool, you can access and view websites to help you complete your tasks.

  • Email apps: You can these types of applications to write, send, receive and read emails from other individuals. These programs are helpful when you're working or trying to contact other individuals.

2. System software

System software helps you, the hardware of your device and the application software work together to help you complete your tasks. A computer system relies on software systems to allow it to function properly and efficiently. For example, the memory of your device is part of your system software. Unlike the application software, the system software it's not end-user oriented, which means these programs run in the background of your devices instead of you using them. This means you can use the application software while the system software runs in the background to assist the apps' operations.

3. Middleware

Middleware software is the function that helps system software transition to or from application software programs. This can help your device manage communication and data between the two software programs. Types of middleware can include data management, authentication and communication through messages.

4. Driver software

The driver software is part of the system software, and this can help your computer manage the external devices you connect to it. This tool can help the device plugged in to operate as intended. Driver software helps translate the commands of the hardware or device's operating system to complete the task. For each device you have plugged into your computer, it requires one driver software. Often, the external devices come with installed drivers, which means you won't need a third-party installation. If the device doesn't have a built-in driver, you can install your own with a third party.

Here are a few examples of external devices that driver software can help support:

  • Printers

  • Wireless mice

  • Network cards

5. Programming software

Programming software is for coding and not primarily user-end unless you're a professional who uses and writes codes. As a programmer, you can use this type of software to write, produce, inspect and debug application and system software. These programs can help make completing your tasks more productive and efficient. Additionally, coders can use this software as a translator program. A translator program means it interprets program coding language into machine language code. This helps programmers run code by each line and ensure it's correct so the computer can complete basic instructions.

6. Freeware

Freeware software is a type of application that is free for you to download. You can download these programs online and they are in the application software and end-user category. These types of software value and respect an individual's need for community and freedom. Here are a few examples of freeware you can download:

  • Instagram

  • Facebook

  • Adobe Reader

  • Skype

7. Open source software

Open-source software is a type of program that allows users to change the coding and share it with other users. You can share these programs with any user and they can use them for a variety of reasons. Here are some examples of open-source software:

  • Internet browsers, such as Firefox

  • LibreOffice

  • GIMP

8. Proprietary software or closed software

Proprietary software, or closed software, is a type of program with coding for users who pay a fee to access it. This means only the author who created the coding and the program has the authority to change the codes and distribute the software. Here are a few examples of proprietary or closed software:

  • Microsoft Office

  • Java

  • Adobe Flash Player

9. Shareware

Shareware software is a type of application that is paid program but offered to users for a trial period before requesting payment for continual usage. During the trial duration, you can use all the features in the application without having to pay a fee. At the end of the trial, the application may ask for payment if you desire to continue to use the program if you like it. When you're given a trial duration, you can assess if you would like to invest financially in it later. Here are a few examples of shareware:

  • Netflix

  • Adobe Photoshop

  • YouTube TV

10. Utility software

Utility software is a type of system software that can help you maintain the health of your device and manage the performance of the programs. You may purchase some of these software programs in-store or online to download on your computer. These programs can scan and analyze your device to find any challenges or make improvements when necessary. Here are a few examples of utility software you can download:

  • Antivirus and security

  • Data backup

  • Disk cleaner and defragment

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What's the difference between software and programs?

You may use the words "software" and "program" together to describe a collection of data and instructions used to make a computer's hardware complete a task, but not every type of software is a program. A primary difference between a program and software is that a program doesn't have an interface for users to navigate with, like software. Programs have limited functions and features for users to explore. For example, the software can comprise files, while a program can be a file itself. Additionally, a program is necessary for software to operate properly.

How do you maintain your computer software?

Occasionally, your device may need maintenance of the software once you've downloaded it. Maintenance of your software may include updating the program or troubleshooting challenges it may encounter. You can check for upgrades or program errors through your computer and program settings. Additionally, using software patches can allow you to upgrade your program. Software patches are codes installed into software programs used to help correct challenges and update when necessary. You may find software patches through the developers' websites.

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How do you get the software?

You can purchase software from retail computer companies or online. The software may come in a box with instructions and all the required disks for you to put into your computer's disk reader to install it onto your computer. It may also come with no disks and a card with an access code on it. When you have an access code, you can follow the instructions on the card to install the software on your computer.

Additionally, you may download software over the internet. When you're researching software programs to download online, you can find both paid and free versions. Here are a few types of free software:

  • Trial software: Trial software is a program you can test out for a certain duration to see how you like the program. When you're using trial software, consider how easy the interface is for you to navigate and if it's worth you paying the full price when the trial is over.

  • Bundle ware: Bundle ware is software and hardware that often comes together as a set when you purchase a new computer. This can help you save money and time because companies can make the price lower when they bundle software and it can save you time as it may come pre-installed on the device.

  • Public domain software: Public domain software is a type of open-source software, which has no copyright laws and is free for the public to distribute and use for free. The public can change the program without restrictions.

Frequently asked questions

What's the difference between freeware and free software?

The main difference between freeware and free software is the license under which their distributors release them. A distributor releases freeware under a copyright license so that users can't modify and distribute it as they desire. Alternatively, a distributor releases free software under a license that allows anyone to modify and distribute it as they wish.

What's the most important software for a computer?

The most important software for a computer depends on your specific job role and your reasons for using a computer. For example, if you're a graphic designer, you may want to invest in software that lets you manipulate and combine images, videos, text and animations to create marketing materials. If you're a computer programmer, you can invest in programming software to write code and detect problems in application and system software.

What are the two main types of system software?

The first main type of system software is the operating system, which oversees the computer's processes and memory. The second type of system software is utility software, which allows users to maintain a computer's operations via programs like antivirus software and data backup systems.

Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.


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