Microsoft Office Tutorials and References
In Depth Information
Software, also called a program, consists of a series of related instructions, organized for a
common purpose, that tells the computer what tasks to perform and how to perform them. You
interact with a program through its user interface. The user interface controls how you enter data
and instructions and how information is displayed on
the screen. Software today often has a graphical user
interface. With a graphical user interface ( GUI
pronounced gooey), you interact with the software
using text, graphics, and visual images such as icons.
When you buy a computer, it usually has some
software on its hard disk. This enables you to use
the computer the first time you turn it on. Programs
also can be installed after you purchase the com-
puter. Installing is the process of adding software
to a computer, and uninstalling is the process of
removing programs and all associated files from the
Much software is available at retail stores and on the
Web for purchase and/or download. As an alternative,
some people use a Web application, which is a Web
site that allows users to access and interact with software
from any computer or device that is connected to the
Internet. Software can be divided into two categories:
system software and application software (Figure 31).
Figure 31 Today’s system software and application software usually
have a graphical user interface.
System software consists of programs that control the operations of the computer and its
devices. Two types of system software are operating systems and utility programs.
An operating system is a set of programs that coordinates all the activities among computer
hardware devices. It provides a means for users to communicate with the computer and other soft-
ware. Many of today’s computers use Microsoft Windows, the latest version of which is shown in
Figure 31, or Mac OS, Apple’s operating system. When a user starts a computer, portions of the
operating system are copied into memory from the computer’s hard disk. These parts of the
operating system remain in memory while the computer is on.
A utility program allows a user to perform maintenance-type tasks usually related to managing
a computer, its devices, or its programs. For example, you can use a utility program to burn digital
photos on an optical disc. Most operating systems include several utility programs for managing
disk drives, printers, and other devices and media. You also can buy utility programs that allow you
to perform additional computer management functions.
For more information, visit
and then click Operating
Application software consists of programs designed to make users more productive and/or assist
them with personal tasks. These include personal information management, note taking, project
management, accounting, document management, computer-aided design, desktop publishing,
paint/image editing, audio and video editing, multimedia authoring, Web page authoring, personal
finance, legal, tax preparation, home design/landscaping, travel and mapping, education, reference,
and entertainment (e.g., games or simulations). Software is available at stores that sell computer
products and at many Web sites.
Computer users regularly use application software. Some of the more commonly used programs
are word processing, presentation, spreadsheet, database, and e-mail. These programs often are sold
together as a unit, called a business suite. When you purchase a collection of programs as a suite,
the suite usually costs significantly less than purchasing them individually. Suites also provide ease
of use because the programs in the suite normally use a similar interface and share features.