software is the non-physical parts of a computer system. The term software is used to refer to all programs and instructions that work with hardware to give the computer some utility. The computer requires instructions (software) in order to be of use. It is the software that gives the computer the flexibility or the versatility to do whatever the user wants. in fact, without the software the computer is basically a useless lump of metal. While a program is a set of instructions that tells the computer what to do, software is a collective name for all programs that have been written for handling several problems in various fields. There are two major categories of software namely:
1. System software
2. Application software
software packages or simply packages is a name given to all programs that have been written specifically to solve a particular business or scientific task. They are called packages because these programs have been written with a general outlook and then packaged for any person that might want to use it as an assistant in his field.
The term application software means, that it applies the computer to whatever the user wants. As an example, a graphic artist requires a graphic package in order to apply the computer to his field. He does not need to develop or write a program that will enable him use the computer for his graphic purpose. Developing such software can be expensive and labour intensive.
All he needs do is contacting a computer vendor and picking already packaged software that will satisfy his need. Likewise, in order to produce a professional looking, error free and neat business correspondence, (letters, document,), the secretary (typist) requires a word processing package. This packaged will adapt a computer to behave like a office typewriter, presenting very many features and capabilities. Micro-computers can perform a wide variety of business and scientific tasks.
All it takes is the right kind of software. These applications packages (software's) are usually written to provide "on-line-help" and high degree of "user friendliness" bearing in mind that most users are not computer professionals. online help means that a package can assist you learn how to use it. for example, the F3 key is used to activate the online help of WP5.1. while the F1 key is for the online help for Ms word 97. They also come with complete tutorials and how to use them.
Software packages are constantly being enhanced and revised resulting to what is know as version and release. when a package first appear, the package is given the number 1.0. when this package is revised and improved, the number changes giving rise to another version. whereas the number before the period refers to the version, the number after the period refers to the release.
For example, the first version of word perfect, word-processing software is 5.0. subsequent revision introduce 5.1, followed by 6.0. while the word-perfect 5.0 and 5.1 were written to run on DOS, version 6.0 and 6.1 run on windows. Apart from these ready-made software packages that have a general outlook, users can choose to develop their own-tailor made packages.
An existing package may not satisfy entirely the needs of user because of its general outlook. for example, a payroll package may not suit an organization payroll requirement, as there exist some differences among organization payroll operations. in such a situation the organization can employ the services of a programmers to design a custom or tailor made payroll program that adequately satisfies their needs.