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Computer software refers to written programs, rules, and procedures that enable computer users to operate a computer and its peripherals, such as printers (Shaffer, 2008). Computer software exists in two categories, namely system software and application software. Software engineers create software using programming languages, including Java, Visual Basic, Game Maker Language, just to mention a few (Chambers, 2010). Computer software can translate directions, and concepts, which a computer user can readily understand, into tasks that can occur on computer hardware (Shaffer, 2008). This discussion will consider an explanation of the difference between application software and system hardware.
System software refers to computer software that controls and manages computer hardware, thereby serving as a platform for application software (Morley & Parker, 2012). It includes device drivers, servers, programming tools, utilities, operating systems, and windowing systems. Examples of operating systems include Linux, Microsoft Windows, Mac OSX, Unix, Disc Operating System, among others. Application software refers to computer software that software engineers design to help users perform various tasks, including photo designing using Microsoft Publisher (Morley & Parker, 2012). This category of computer software includes office suites, enterprise software, media players, accounting software, computer games, databases, and graphics software. Most application programs involve documents, such as the Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Word, and Microsoft Publisher documents. Application software depends entirely on system software, that is why a computer user can perform a task only when this dependency is maintained (Shaffer, 2008). System software serves as a platform over which the application software runs. Therefore, functionality of application software depends on system software.
It is evident that application software cannot be functional without presence of system software that serves as a platform. System software, such as an operating system, controls and manages computer hardware while application software enables users to perform various tasks, such as formatting a text using Microsoft Word (Morley & Parker, 2012). Computer hardware can only be functional after successful installation of computer software. Therefore, a fully functional computer system consists of hardware, system software, and application software (Shaffer, 2008).