While just about everyone uses a computer in some way, shape or form on a daily basis, there are relatively few people who understand how vitally important computer software is to the usefulness and functionality of even simple devices. From very basic items such as a digital watch, to handy innovations in cell phones, to the grand super computing behemoths that manage things such as space shuttle launches, none of these machines could function without the programming that gives them life.
Essentially all programs and applications for computers are a set of instructions designed to create particular outcomes. A computer program is a collection of these instructions that have a common purpose. A collection of related programs to carry out coordinated computing tasks is referred to as a package.
One great example of a package of software programs would be an application that handles accounting related tasks. Such a package would have a number of modules, or independent programs, that function together to comprise a complete package.
For instance, the accounting package might contain a bookkeeping program, an audit program, a data base management program, a tax preparation program, a time tracking and billing program or any number of other related programs. In many cases each of these kinds of accounting programs could stand alone, but they become much more powerful when they operate together as a complete package.
These kinds of packages that contain various modules, or programs, have become very popular because the data is shared between the various programs. This reduces the need to re-enter data and eliminates tasks of exporting and importing information from one program to the other. This not only saves time but it also significantly reduces the possibility of errors, because even when data is not re-keyed there are numerous possibilities for data to become corrupt when going through exporting and importing functions.
All computers operate with what is known as system software, or the operating system. This programming provides the very basic instructions for how the computer interacts with the user and how the various programs and packages operate.
Windows is the most commonly used personal computer operating system, with the Macintosh OS X operating system being the next most common system. Other operating systems include Linux and Unix, which are often used in more high-end computing situations.
If you have computer work that needs to be done, then there are at least three components in play. The hardware is the first component which is actually what most people think of when talking about computers. The hardware includes the “box,” the monitor, the keyboard, the mouse and any other physical components.
The operating system software is the second of the three components. Which operating system that runs on your computer will have a great deal to do with which programs you are able to operate and also will make a difference in how easy or difficult it is to use the computer overall. While Windows computers are more prevalent, many people say that the Macintosh computers are more user friendly because of the operating system.
The final of the three components of any computerized task is the specific software program that has been written to handle the required work. This relates back to the accounting program example which provided the specific functions related to the accounting tasks that needed to be done. Without these specific applications, a computer alone, even with a good operating system, will not provide many solutions or much functionality.