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Frequently Asked Questions About Computer Software

April 13, 2022
Read Time 5 mins

In this article, we unpack the most frequently asked questions about computer software and how Tarsus Distribution can be your answer to all things Microsoft.

At the helm of hardware function lies a myriad of command lines that make things function. Without software, a computer won’t perform any function and will simply be a useless, inert machine. Different types of software also exist in direct mutual relations. To find out more about enterprise-level computer software, click here.

Covered In This Article

What Is Computer Software?
What Are The 3 Types Of Computer software?
What Is The Most Used Computer Software?
How Do Computer Software Licences Work?
Which Software Solutions Does Tarsus Distribution Offer?

What Is Computer Software?

Computer software is programming code executed on a computer processor. The code can be machine-level code or code written for an operating system. An operating system is software intended to provide a predictable and dependable layer for other programmers to build other software on, which are known as applications. Operating systems can be found on all smartphones, tablets, and desktop computers. These systems give the device the functionality it needs. For example, Apple's iOS and Android's OS were developed specifically for portable devices.

Computer software provides a dependable layer for hardware manufacturers. This standardisation creates an efficient environment for programmers to create smaller programs, which can be run by millions of computers.

The software can also be thought of as an expression that contrasts with hardware. The physical components of a computer are the hardware; the digital programs running on the hardware are the software. The software can also be updated or replaced much easier than hardware. Additionally, the software can be distributed to a number of hardware receivers. Basically, the software is the computer logic computer users interact with.

Examples Of Computer Software

A machine-level example of software is the Basic Input/Output System or BIOS. When you start the computer, the BIOS loads and runs before your hard drive even connect. The BIOS checks the connection to hardware and looks for the operating system to load. You can upgrade the BIOS by flashing, which is when you replace machine-level software stored on the main board of your computer. Like BIOS, the Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) starts when you turn on your computer. This interface supports larger hard drives, and additional security functions, and boots faster than the Basic Input/Output System.

A familiar example of application software is Notepad. Notepad runs when the user activates it and it has certain requirements. You need an operating system and hardware processor. The programmers of Notepad wrote software for a specific environment. Once the software is loaded into the computer's memory, the processor is able to read it. The program then becomes a process, and the user can interact with it.

software solutions questions

What Are The 3 Types Of Computer software?

There are different types of software that can run on a computer: system software, utility software, and application software.

System software

If you think of software as being in layers, the system software is the bottom layer: it sits between the hardware and the application software.

Operating systems like Windows, macOS, Android and iOS are examples of system software. Operating systems are loaded into RAM when the device starts up, and have access to the hard drive.

Application software also uses the operating system to talk to the hardware on the computer and to other software. When a web browser wants to load a web page, it is the operating system that controls access to the internet and fetches the information from the web.

Similarly, the operating system also provides the application software information about what key is being pressed, and about the mouse: where it is, what it clicked, and where it’s moving on screen.

Application software relies heavily on the operating system to do these tasks and send it all this information.

Utility software

Utility software is part of the system software and performs specific tasks to keep the computer running. Utility software is always running in the background. Examples of utility software are security and optimisation programs.

Security programs include anti-virus software that scans and removes viruses. Most computers will include some sort of anti-virus software, but you can add your own.

Optimisation programs can include tools for system clean-up, disk defragmentation, and file compression. These tools are typically installed as part of the operating system. They have access to the hard drive to keep it tidy.

Application software

This is everything else! Anything that is not an operating system or a utility is an application or app. So a word processor, spreadsheet, web browser, and graphics software are all examples of application software, and they can do many specific tasks.

You can remove and add applications to your computer using the operating system.

Application software like a word processor regularly directs the operating system to load and save files from and to the hard drive. When you are working on a file, it is saved temporarily in the RAM. It is only when you choose to save it that it is written to the hard drive.

This is why, if the computer crashes while you’re working on a file, you may lose any changes you didn’t save. Data stored in the RAM is volatile. The data is lost when the RAM loses power.

What Is The Most Used Computer Software?

In 2020 alone, the number of personal computers sold, worldwide, was greater than 450 million. A figure that is growing strongly due to the Pandemic and the strong development of work from home. Behind every computer, however, there is software. According to Google Trends and Statistics & Data, Microsoft Excel has been at the top of the world’s most popular software list for several years now. Except for a period when Excel was overtaken by Zoom (in the very first months of the pandemic), this software has always been at the top of the list in recent years. Excel is a programme produced by Microsoft that allows you to manage spreadsheets. Microsoft released the first version of Excel for the Macintosh on 30 September 1985 and the first Windows version was 2.05 (for synchronisation with Macintosh version 2.2) in November 1987.

How Do Computer Software Licences Work?

Software licenses typically provide end-users with the right to one or more copies of the software without violating copyrights. The license also defines the responsibilities of the parties entering into the license agreement and may impose restrictions on how the software can be used.

Typically, the software license addresses things like:

  • If the user can view the underlying source code
  • If the user can copy, alter, or redistribute the program
  • Where the program can be installed and how frequently

Before any software can be installed, it has to be legally licensed. Otherwise, it would be considered a breach of copyright law to use the software. For businesses acting as users, being aware of software licensing is particularly important because you don't want to unnecessarily pay for licenses that you aren't using. While acquiring too many can be a waste of a company's resources, having too few can leave the company vulnerable to a costly potential lawsuit. Additionally, software license agreements can make managing the company's software way easier, so it's important that you find the right one.

Software Licence Types

Most businesses keep software licenses in a text document and contractually restrict a user’s claims against a developer. Additionally, software licenses may contain restrictions on various end-user rights, such as installation, warranties, and liability. You can find most software licenses on the developer’s site or within the interface.

The majority of software and their agreements fall under two broad categories of licenses:

  • Type 1. Proprietary software licenses: Proprietary software licenses limit a user’s legal ability to change software code. A significant segment of software licenses falls under this category, as most commercial software licenses restrict an end-user’s access and define acceptable use terms. They also provide the most protection for developers.
  • Type 2. Free and open-source software (FOSS) licenses: FOSS licenses are contracts that permit end-users to share, modify, use, and reuse a software product’s source code. FOSS
    licenses vest users with considerable authority over their use.

Developers can also donate their software’s rights to the public domain. In these cases, the software remains unrestricted and unprotected against copyright infringement while becoming freely available to the public.

Which Software Solutions Does Tarsus Distribution Offer?

It goes without saying that Microsoft is a world-renowned technology brand and Industry authority. The great news is that Tarsus Distribution is one of Microsoft’s trusted partners in South Africa.

Currently, Tarsus Distribution distributes Microsoft software solutions in the form of Microsoft Windows, Microsoft Server, and Microsoft Office solutions, and are excited to have been named the exclusive distributor for Microsoft Surface in South Africa across both their Consumer and Commercial range of devices.

Tarsus Distribution is fully equipped to supply Microsoft products in both box product and Electronic Software Distribution, which in today’s world is the fastest and easiest way to sell Office. To find out more about software solutions from Tarsus Distribution, click here.

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