Different types of software and their functions (with examples)

He software is the set of instructions written in computer programs that represent its logical element. These instructions give the computer the ability to perform different functions.

Depending on their function, we can classify them software in three types: system software, application software and integrated software. Each, in turn, presents other divisions that perform specific actions within the electronic device. Here are some of them.

Types of software Divisions Function Examples
System software Boot program Turn on the computer BIOS
Operating systems Computer and user interface


Programming software Application building for users

File management
Library administrator

Diagnostic and maintenance software Fault detection and malfunction

Disk utility
Disk fragmentator
Virus protection
Data compression

Device driver
(Device driver)
Allows the function of a device when connected to the computer Webcam driver
Printer driver
Optical pencil controller
Application software Standard applications Mass use utilities

Word processors
Database manager
Graphics Manager

Custom applications Utilities limited use Banking software
Communication software Connection between computers

Video conferencing
Teleworking platforms

Integrated Software Cap Control of electronic equipment Software on TVs, video games, microwaves.

System software

The system software includes all those programs that are used to activate and manage the internal resources of the computer. Within these software we have the following divisions:

Basic software or boot program

The basic input / output system (BIOS): basic input output system) or startup program is the first program that runs when the machine starts. It is a system software that checks computer devices and loads memory into the operating system. This software is in ROM (from English Read Only Memory).

Operating systems

Operating systems are software that control computer resources and function as the user-computer interface. Through them it is a question of optimizing the use of the processor, the memory and the devices of entrance and exit to allow to the users the handling of several programs of efficient way.

The operating system is tied to the capacity of the physical equipment: computer, smartphone, tablet or laptop. Examples of operating systems include:

  • MS / DOS (MicroSoft Disk Operating System): Microsoft’s personal operating system for personal computers from the early 1980s to the 20th century.
  • Microsoft Windows: The most used operating system of all time that has evolved since 1985.
  • MAC OS: Apple Macintosh operating system for your desktops and laptops.
  • UNIX: multiprogram and multi-user operating system.
  • Linux: public domain operating system.
  • iOS: iPhone and iPad operating system.
  • Android: smartphone operating system.
  • Harmony US: Huawei operating system.

Programming software

These are the software programs that make it easier for users to build applications. Within this software group we have:

  • Assemblers
  • Compilers
  • Programming error trackers
  • File management systems
  • Program Library Administrator
  • Terminals

Diagnostic and maintenance programs

These are the programs that are responsible for troubleshooting and malfunctioning hardware and software. It is also called Utilities or Utilities. These include:

  • Data compressor.
  • Virus protection.
  • Disk fragmentator.
  • Airport utility.
  • Disk utility.

Device drivers

Device drivers or device drivers they are classified within the system software. These programs are written to allow a device that is connected to a computer to work. Examples are:

  • Webcam driver.
  • Optical pencil controller.
  • Printer driver.

You may be interested in the difference between algorithm and program.

Application software

Application software is software that provides instructions for performing a task that is not related to the operation of the computer itself. These tasks are the ones that actually encourage widespread use of the computer, such as writing text, listening to music, and calculating a company’s annual budget.

Standard application software

Standard applications are software that are developed for the general public and sold en masse. They may have different versions for different hardware platforms. Examples of standard applications are:

  • Word processors: Microsoft Word, Google Docs, Apple Pages.
  • Spreadsheet: Microsoft Excel, Quattro Pro, Lotus.
  • Database manager: MySQL, MS Acess, dBase.
  • Graphics Manager: Corel Draw, Paint Brush, Adope Photoshop, GIMP.
  • Internet browsers: Google Chrome, Internet Explorer, Safari, Mozilla Firefox.
  • Media Manager: Windows Media Player, VLC Media Player.

Custom application software

There are applications that are developed for a particular client, with specifications for a particular platform. For example, the software of a bank is tailored to the requirements of that institution.

Communication software

Communication software has instructions that allow the exchange of information between computers. These are widely used in telecommuting, where texts, videos and lectures can be sent in real time. Examples of communication software are:

  • Slack
  • Zoom
  • RingCentral
  • GoToMeeting
  • Skype
  • e-mail

Integrated software

Embedded or embedded software is software that controls the functions of electronic equipment that is not visible to the user. The main feature of this software is that it is developed simultaneously with the computer. The most popular operating systems in integrated systems are Linux and Windows Embedded.

In devices such as televisions, airplanes, and video games, the software is integrated. For example, the software built into a microwave is responsible for responding to panel keys, controlling the LCD screen, and arresting and shutting down items that heat food.

You may also be interested in:

  • Mayor Lancharro, I., García López, M. (1994) Basic Computer Science. Second edition. McGraw-Hill.
  • Byeongdo Kan, YJ. K., Lee, RY (2005) A design and test technique for embedded software. Third ACIS Int’l Conference on Software Engineering Research, Management and Applications SERA’05.
  • Meyers, RA (2001) Encyclopedia of Physical Science and Technology-Computer Software. Elsevier.
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