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Software is the programs and instructions that enable the computer to do a certain task. It is divided into application software and system software. Software can be stored in the hard disk of the computer and can also be recorded on a CD or DVD.
126.96.36.199 Types of Software
System software is a term used to describe programs that enable the computer to work and coordinate the various parts of the computer system to make it run efficiently. System software controls the operation of the computer, meaning telling the hardware (e.g. printer) what to do and when and how to do it.
System software is the base for applications software as they cannot work without system software.
System software can be divided into operating systems and utilities. The operating system is the program that actually makes the computer works. Utilities are the programs that perform specific tasks relating to managing system resources as file compression, password protection, backup, disk repair, etc. Any program that helps the computer to perform better is considered utility software.
Application software is a term used for programs that enable users to do specific tasks such as creating a document, producing invoices, creating presentations and using database. Application software is used once the operating system has been loaded.
Application software can be:
Educational software: It refers to any program provides educational benefits to users. Educational software can be used in schools to make learning interactive, interesting and entertaining. Educational software can also be used to train staff in an organization.
Entertainment software: It refers to any program used as an entertainment means to users such as games.
Productivity software: It refers to any program users use to do their work better and produce information such as creating documents, databases, presentations, graphs, etc. Office suites that include spreadsheets, word processing, etc are referred as productivity software. These programs enable users to perform easily many tasks required in business, schools, etc.
1.3.2 Operating System Software
188.8.131.52 Operating System
The operating system is the program that actually makes the computer work. It is loaded automatically when the computer is turned on. Operating systems are abbreviated as OS. Every computer has an operating system for its basic functionality.
These are some functions of the operating system:
Boot up the computer.
Control the computer hardware such as printer, scanner, monitor, keyboard and mouse.
Control features such as formatting disks, defragmenting disks; saving files and retrieving them form the hard disk.
Provide the base for the applications software to be launched.
Allow the applications software to use the hardware.
Provide the functionality for a computer to be connected in a network.
Formatting is the process of preparing hard disks or any storage device to read and write data. When data fills up the disk, the disk can be reformatted to be reused. Formatting the disk erases the data on it.
Nowadays disks are preformatted by the manufacture. Users do not need to format the disks before using them.
Data can be stored in the hard disk in a non contiguous area. Data are stored in the first available free area, which may not be contiguous. These non contiguous areas results from modifying, deleting and creating files. This process makes the file to be read from multiple areas on the hard disk, which slows down the speed of the hard disk. The hard disk can access data fast if it had been written in the same area of the hard disk.
The process of reorganizing the disk to reduce fragmentation and allow faster information access is known as defragmentation. Defragmentation locates the non contiguous areas of data and rearranges them.
Operating system like Microsoft Windows comes with a utility program called disk defragmenter.
184.108.40.206 Common Operating Systems
Microsoft Windows, Macintosh Operating system (Mac OS), Linux and UNIX are examples of operating systems.
Microsoft Windows is the operating system designed by Microsoft. It is the common used operating system on computers. There are many versions of Microsoft Windows such as Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7 and Windows 8.
Figure : Microsoft Windows 7 Logo
Macintosh Operating System (Mac OS)
Macintosh operating system or Mac OS is the operating system designed by Apple Corporation. This operating system is used on Macintosh computers. There are many versions of Macintosh operating system such as Mac OS 8, Mac OS 9, and Mac OS X.
Figure : Mac OS LOgo
1.3.3 Applications Software
As discussed before, applications software is the computer programs that enable users to do specific tasks such as writing documents, creating catalogs and flyers, editing images, etc. Applications software can be categorized as:
Custom written software (Tailor made software): This is software written and designed by programmers for specific customers to do a certain task.
Packaged software (Off the shelf software): This is software written and designed to be sold and used by the general public. Microsoft Office is an example of it.
220.127.116.11 Common Applications Software
Here are some common applications software and their uses.
Word processing programs: These programs are used to create documents such as letter, reports, memos, etc. Microsoft Word is an example.
Spreadsheet programs: These programs are used to analyze and summarize numerical data like budgets and financial sheets. Microsoft Excel is an example.
Database programs: These programs are used to store, organize and manage large quantities of data. Microsoft Access is an example.
Presentation programs: These programs are used to create presentations such as slide shows to be displayed to a large group of people. Microsoft PowerPoint is an example.
Photo editing programs: These programs are used to edit images such as changing the size of images, adjust the colors of images, cropping images, etc. Adobe Photoshop and MS Photo Editor are examples of these programs.
Desktop publishing programs: These programs are used to create printed materials such as magazines, posters, flyers, invitations and books. Microsoft Publisher and Adobe InDesign are examples of these programs.
Internet web browsing programs: These programs are used to surf the Internet and view web pages. Microsoft Internet Explorer, Opera, Apple Safari and Mozilla Firefox are examples of these programs.
E-mailing programs: These programs are used to send and receive electronic mails. Microsoft Outlook is an example.
Web development programs: These programs are used to create websites. Adobe Dreamweaver and Microsoft FrontPage are examples of these programs.
1.3.4 User Interface
Users interact with software in many ways. Some users write the commands that they need to do, other presses certain keys from the keyboard to do a certain task and some prefer to use the mouse.
18.104.22.168 Types of User Interface
Early user interface required users to type exactly instructions with specific rules to do a certain task. The users didn't like this way because they have to be very careful in writing the commands and of course they have to remember them. An example is of this interface is the DOS (Disk Operating System) operating system which was used in 1981 with the IBM personal computers.
Shortcut keystrokes enable users to use the commands through pressing certain keys from the keyboard. This way may be hard to be remembered.
Graphical User Interface (GUI)
GUI refers to the graphic screens that make it easier for users to interact with programs through using icons, mouse, drop down menus and windows. Icons are small images that represent files, folders, programs, etc.
Advantages of using GUI:
Graphical user interface simplifies the use of computers for users. There is no need to memorize commands and shortcut keystrokes.
GUI speed up user's work.
GUI makes the use of WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get). This allows users to see the final output as displayed on the screen. For example users will see documents on the screen exactly as it will be printed.
GUI allows multitasking. Multitasking means using several programs at the same time. Users can easily switch between opened programs.
The Windows GUI
Figure : Windows GUI
The OS X GUI
Figure : Mac OS GUI
Distinguishing between applications software and system software.
Knowing the different types of user interface.
Understanding the difference between formatting disks and defragmenting disks.
Knowing the meaning of multitasking operating system.
1. Choose the correct answer
Which one of the following programs used for writing CVs?
Which one of the following is a user friendly interface?
Which one of the following programs can be used for adjusting the contrast of pictures?
Which two of the following are examples of operating systems?
Which two of the following are not functions of an operating system?
Searching for data in a database.
Giving an instruction to the printer to start printing.
Pressing F1 from a key board is a …………………………… user interface.
Which one of the following controls hardware access?
What is the most common method used for installing an operating system?
USB flash drives.
Which one of the following software is used to perform disk defragmentation?
Desktop publishing software.
Web browsing software.
Which two of the following are considered examples of utility programs?
2. What is the difference between formatting disks and defragmenting disks?
3. What is meant by multitasking operating system?
4. Mention an example of educational, entertainment and productivity software.
This chapter provides detailed information about software. These are the points that are explained in this chapter:
Software is the programs and instructions that enable the computer to do a certain task. It is divided into application software and system software.
System software is a term used to describe programs that enable the computer to work and run efficiently. It is divided into operating systems and utilities.
Operating systems are responsible for booting up the computer, managing the computer hardware, provide the base for the applications software to be used and allowing the applications software to use the hardware such as the printer.
Microsoft Windows, Mac Os, Linux and Unix are examples of operating systems.
Utilities are any program helps the computer to perform better. File compressing, disk cleaner, backup file, disk repair, password protection are examples of utility programs.
Applications software are programs help users to perform specific tasks. Applications software can be designed specifically for a particular customer or can be designed to be sold and used by the general public.
Applications software can be educational, entertainment and productivity software.
Examples of applications software are word processing programs, spread sheets programs, presentations programs, web development programs, desktop publishing programs, databases programs, web browsing programs and emailing programs and photo editing programs.
Users can interact with computers in different ways. They can write the commands or use shortcut keystrokes or use graphical screens with icons and menus.
Now you are ready to know about networks and Internet. What a network is, types and advantages of it. Also what an Internet is and how it can be useful to users. This will be explained in the next chapter.