Types of Software for Computers – Complete Guide for Beginners

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Software is any instructions, also called programs, given to the computer to perform any task or activity. It tells the computer what to do and how to do it. However, programming languages are used to prepare software. In this article, we will discuss the types of software for computers.

A computer cannot do anything. We must have to instruct it to the desired job done. Hence, it is necessary to specify a sequence of instructions it must perform to solve a problem. For example, word-processing, spreadsheet, and database management software may contain many programs for creating, editing, formatting, and printing different documents.

How many types of software in the computer are there?

They can be broadly classified based on their function:

  1. System Software
  2. Application Software
  3. Internet Applications

They can also be classified based on their availability:

Based on the permissions, the software may be,

  • Licensed
  • Open Source

Based on the accessibility, it can be,

  • Shareware
  • Freeware

Types of Software for computers based on functionality

How many types of computer software are there based on their function?

Based on the function, there are two types of software in the computer system:

System Software

System software is a collection of system programs that control and coordinate the activities of a computer system. It consists of a set of operative programs required to manage computer hardware and execute application software. Hence, the purpose of system software is to make computers more effective and efficient. Moreover, A computer without some system software would be ineffective and impossible to operate. Some examples of system software are:

  • Operating System
  • Device Drivers
  • Utility Software
  • Language Processors/Translators

We have discussed these types of system software in a separate post.

Application Software

It is a set of programs designed to perform a specific task. For example, application software for:

  • payroll processing produces payslips, and
  • for processing examination results makes mark sheets and some other statistical reports.

Some examples of application software are:

  • Productivity
  • Business
  • Entertainment
  • Educational or Academic

However, we have discussed them in a separate article on different types of application software.

Internet Applications

These are:

  • Web Applications
  • Cloud Computing Applications
  • Social Media Network Applications

Web Applications

A web application is a program that runs on a remote server while its users interact with it through a web browser. Some Common Web applications include:

  • web-based email programs (such as Hotmail and Gmail)
  • online ticketing services
  • online auctions
  • banking services
  • retail sales
  • instant messaging services, etc.

Cloud Computing Applications

A cloud application is a program that supports cloud computing. It is entirely stored on a remote server and is delivered over the internet through a web browser. Users of a cloud application need a computer with a high-speed internet connection.

Social Media Network Applications

Social media is an internet-based communication system. It allows the creation and exchange of information, ideas, shared interests, and other forms of expression. Moreover, social media websites connect users with their friends, colleagues, and family through the internet.

What social media platforms are there?

Some famous examples of social media are Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and WhatsApp.

Social Media Network Applications
Social Media Network Applications

Facebook is one of the fastest-growing free social networking services for millions worldwide. It allows registered users to create profiles and exchange messages, photos, videos, and links with other users. Moreover, Facebook helps users stay updated with what is based on their common interests and share views and ideas.


Like Facebook, Instagram is a photo and video-oriented social networking platform that only enables users to share photos and videos. The app/website allows its users to upload media. Moreover, the users can edit the media with filters and organize it by hashtags and geographical tagging. One can share publicly or with preapproved followers. A user can browse others’ content by tag and location. Moreover, he can view trending content, like photos, and follow other users to add their content to a personal feed.


Twitter is an online social networking and news service that allows subscribers to broadcast short messages to other subscribers. We call the short messages tweets, restricted to 140 characters. Furthermore, it is free to join the service. However, it is different from email. Users of Twitter type short statements about:

  • what is going on in their lives,
  • what they are doing, and
  • their thoughts and opinions on specific topics or current affairs.

Hence, Twitter is more like a news broadcast. People worldwide are continually broadcasting tweets that anyone can view.


It is a free instant messaging service for smartphone users to exchange text, photos, videos, and audio messages. It has become the largest messaging service around the world. WhatsApp is very popular among teenagers because of group chatting, voice messages, and location sharing. Moreover, a new setting has been added by which messages will automatically disappear after 24 hours. Furthermore, WhatsApp has also introduced reaction emojis to messages. It was started for Android mobile devices but is now available for iPhone, Windows Phone, BlackBerry, and Nokia smartphones.

Types of Software for computers based on the Permissions

Based on the Permissions, the types of software are:

Licensed Software

A software license is a legal agreement that specifies the term of use for a computer program. It defines the rights of the software developer and the user. When a person purchases software, he can use the software, which means he is not the software owner. Generally, all the system software and application software are licensed.

The software license deal with copyright law since the copyright law prevents the illegal copying of computer software. Hence, it allows the software creator to benefit financially from their software and retain some control over its use.

When software developers give away the software for free, it is difficult for them to stay in business. It makes it improper to make copies of the software and sell it. Moreover, copying software of sale without the owner’s permission is known as pirated software. Such a use of the software is a violation of copyright.

Examples of licensed software are Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Office.

Open Source Software

These types of software for computers available in source code allow users to study, change, and improve it. In addition, open-source software is free for inspection, modification, and distribution. Hence, it will enable certain rights, which Copyright Law typically protects.

The most common example of open-source software is the Linux operating system.

Types of Software for computers based on the accessibility

Based on the accessibility/availability, the types of software in the computer are discussed as follows:


Shareware is given to people free of charge for a limited period. After the expiry time, one must purchase this software for further usage. Shareware is a trial version, and its functionality is limited. The trial period is usually 30 or 60 days. Some types of shareware are available as full versions, but they stop working at the end of the trial period. One can download shareware from the internet as they are available there. For example, some Antivirus software is shareware, e.g., NOD32 Antivirus.


It is available for use free of cost. It is usually a full version of the software for an unlimited period. However, this software may have restrictions in terms of use. For example, it may be allowed for personal or academic use only or non-profit use.

Examples of freeware are Skype, Viber, and Mozilla Firefox.

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