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1. COMPUTER SOFTWARE

posted Nov 1, 2014, 1:07 AM by Maurice Nyamoti   [ updated Nov 9, 2014, 8:56 AM ]

COMPUTER SOFTWARE

  • Software refers to the various programs & data used in a computer system that enable it perform a no. of specific functions.
  • Software instructs the computer on what to do and how to do it.
  • All programs (software) are written using programming languages.
  • Programmers usually write programs in Source Language (a language that is like broken English).  The Source language is then converted into Machine language; the language that the computer can understand. 
  • Machine language is usually in form of bits (series of 0’s & 1’s).

 SOFTWARE FLEXIBILITY.

  • The Software used on a given computer is said to be flexible, i.e. it is relatively easy to change.
  • For example, in a home computer used for playing games, instead of buying a new machine each time a new game is needed, you only need to ‘load’ a new program into the machine.  Again, it is relatively easy to change between games at will.

 CLASSIFICATION OF COMPUTER SOFTWARE.

 Computer software can be broadly classified/ divided into 2 categories: -

                         (1). System Software (programs).

(2). Application software (programs).

 Note.  Programming languages can also be considered part of software, because they form the basis of grammar on which the program’s development is based.

 The following figure illustrates the computer software family tree.

classification of computer software


SOFTWARE AS A PRODUCT

Software is normally purchased directly or indirectly from either a computer manufacturer or a ‘Software house’.

A Software house is a company that specializes in producing software and related services.

When software is purchased for use on a particular computer, the purchaser obtains a copy of the program plus a no. of other items of documentation.

Software may therefore refer to the various programs used in a computer system together with their associated documentation.

The purchaser of software usually pays for some or all of the following: -

(a).      LICENCE.

The purchaser pays a Licence Fee, which gives him/her the right to use the software on a particular computer or a specified no. of computers on a particular site.

Alternatively, a Site Licence may be paid, which entitles the purchaser to use the software on any computer at a particular space.  Sometimes, the licence may specify the no. of users that may use the software at any one time, and in case of a Single-user licence, the users’ name must be registered.

Note. Using software in breach of licence agreements is a serious offence for which the user may be sued for damages or subjected to criminal prosecution.

(b).      INSTALLATION GUIDE.

The guide provides information about what hardware is needed to enable the programs to run satisfactorily.

It tries to describe the procedures to be followed in order to set up the software, so that it can be used satisfactorily & efficiently on a particular kind of computer.

(c).       INSTALLATION OF THE SOFTWARE.

If the purchaser is not an expert in setting up the software, he pays an additional fee to have the software installed.

(d).      MAINTENANCE UPDATES. 

Sometimes, faults called Bugs may light up sometime after the software has been delivered and put to use.

A good supplier will make every effort to correct bugs as and/or when they are discovered & will provide a new corrected version of the program containing the necessary “Bug fixes”.

The correction of bugs (i.e. maintenance) is often combined with enhancements to the software to make it better in some way.  Enhancements normally involve increased “functionality”, i.e. making it work faster.

Licensed purchasers may get some of these changes provided free of charge, perhaps during the 1st  year of use.  Subsequently, the purchaser may be required to pay an annual fee for maintenance and updates.

(e).       USER GUIDES. 

A User Guide is usually a manual provided for the end-user to enable him/her to learn how to use the software.  Such guides usually use suitable examples to take the user through the stages of carrying out various tasks with the software.

(f).       A REFERENCE MANUAL.

A reference manual is normally intended to be used by a user who already knows how to use the software, but who needs to be reminded about a particular point or who wants to obtain more detailed information about a particular reference.

Reference manuals normally have topics organized in alphabetical order.

(g).      A QUICK REFERENCE GUIDE.

This may be a single sheet or card, which the user may keep for help with common tasks carried out with the software.

(h).      TRAINING.

The software supplier may provide training courses on how to use the software.  Sometimes, some initial training is provided free as part of initial purchase.

(i).        MEMBERSHIP OF A USER GROUP.

A User group is a club for individuals or organizations who use a particular hardware or software product.  The club is often run and partly sponsored by the supplier.

Members of user groups receive Newsletters, which enable them to find out more about the product & how to use it.


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