What Is the Meaning of Computer Software

Can you answer, what is the meaning of computer software? Most people are familiar with the term, but how is it different from computer hardware, and what is that weird term "firmware" you keep hearing about every once in a while?

Hardware First, Software Second
The easiest way to understand computer software is to grasp the meaning of computer hardware, which consists of the physical components of a computer, including the hard drive, motherboard, power supply, fan, memory and monitor. These components all have physical dimensions and weight, and even though they transmit electronic data and energy, they themselves cannot be transferred in such a way. If you want to move a computer, you have to pick it up and move it.

Software programs like desktop software, printer drivers, Web browsers and word processors are all comprised of data that are electronically recorded onto computer hardware like hard drives and memory. This data tells the computer how to behave and interact with humans and the devices to which the computer is connected. Three broad types of software exist: application software, system software and programming software. Most computers come with software installed on it, including an operating system-a type of system software-that enables the computer to function. Software lacks the physical nature of hardware; although it can be recorded on CD-ROMs, hard disks and other physical objects, it can also be transmitted wirelessly over the Internet or directly between computers using infrared or Bluetooth.

The Middle Ground Of Firmware
Firmware, though technically software, is so integral to the functionality of hardware that it can also be considered a part or an extension of the hardware itself. Like software, firmware is data that instructs hardware how to act, but it is more fundamentally essential to the hardware itself than software. Most electronic devices include firmware that provides basic capabilities, including how the device turns on or off or how it recognizes basic components that are built into the device. Without the firmware, the device would be utterly useless, so, in this sense, firmware is an integral part of the hardware.

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