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The 21st century executive

What are the different types of software?

types of software

Most, if not all, companies today use software in at least one of their business processes. As a leader in your organization, you will inevitably have to make tough choices regarding the software you use. To make well-informed decisions, a basic understanding of software is of utmost importance. At the very least, you should be able to differentiate the various types of software at your disposal.

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What is Software?

Software can be defined as data and instructions fed into a device that help it perform a specific task. Chances are, you’re already familiar with and are using a number of different software types in your everyday life. This could be anything from turning on your computer, connecting it to a website, or chatting with your friends on an online platform.

How many types of software are out there?

Software can come in all shapes and sizes, but they are most often divided into the following four distinct overarching categories.

  • Application Software
  • System Software
  • Programming Software 
  • Driver Software

Both application and system software are fairly well-known amongst the general population. They’re often easy to recognize and many of them have become household names.  

At the same time, programming and driver software are a bit more difficult to spot. They are just as ubiquitous as the aforementioned types of software; however, many users can navigate their devices without ever knowing they exist.

The 4 types of Software

  • Application Software

This type of software typically sees the most active user engagement. If you own a smartphone, then you are most likely familiar with mobile “apps.” While these do qualify as software applications, the term “app” can actually be used more broadly than this.

Any software that’s intended for active end-user consumption and helps users more productively complete their tasks can be considered an app. It’s important to note that even though you may personally find some apps to be indispensable, they are often referred to as “non-essential software.” This is primarily because they are manually installed in devices to fulfill specific needs. 

Some examples of application software types include the following: Microsoft Word, Google Chrome, Gmail, and MS Access to name a few.

  • System software

Also called “low-level software,” this type of software is not directly visible to the end-user. It runs in the background and helps apps, hardware, and users work and interact with each other. 

The most recognizable examples of system software are operating systems. Computer and smartphone operating systems noticeably affect how you interact with your device, yet they rarely affect how you interact with the other pieces of software. 

Some well-known examples of system software are the following: Microsoft Windows, Mac (computer operating systems) iOS, and Android (smartphone operating systems).

  • Programming Software

One software type that is often overlooked is that of programming software. It’s intended for programmers to write, develop, test, and debug other types of software like apps and system software. Without it, our devices would be little more than extremely intelligent paper weights.

Some examples of programming software include the following: Eclipse (Java language editor), Coda (Mac programming language editor), and Visual Studio (Microsoft programming environment).

  • Driver Software

Often built into your system software by default, driver software helps your computer interact with external devices that are connected to it. Anything that connects to your device via Bluetooth or inserted in some way needs driver software to function correctly.

Some examples of driver software include the following: Printer Driver, Mouse Driver, and Network Card.

That’s it?

The four types of software discussed above are the most common and overarching types of software. It’s important to remember that each of these software types has a vast number of subcategories that should be researched and understood in order to most effectively make decisions regarding the software affecting your business processes.

Evaluating your software

If you're a business leader, knowing which types of software are out there and how your organization is leveraging them is really the bare minimum for effective leadership.

Once you've identified how it's used and/or developed in your own organization, you will then need a reliable way to evaluate your organization's software development efforts.

The Foreworth platform helps leaders of all shapes and sizes see their software development operations like never before. It gives you code quality and team productivity metrics alongside actionable recommendations for improvement that greatly help with the management and oversight of your DevOps teams. Book a demo with a Foreworth representative today to learn more.

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About the author
Juan Pablo González

Working as Foreworth’s Chief Technical Officer, Juan Pablo (JP) manages the company’s technical strategy. With nearly 20 years of experience in software development, he ensures the development process at Foreworth is meeting its keys objectives and technical requirements.

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