What is software? How it differs from hardware? Why software is needed?

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Software is a set of instructions, data or programs used to operate computers and execute specific tasks. It is the opposite of hardware, which describes the physical aspects of a computer. Software is a generic term used to refer to applications, scripts and programs that run on a device. It can be thought of as the variable part of a computer, while hardware is the invariable part.

Difference between Software and Hardware are:

Hardware Software

Hardware is further divided into four main categories: 

  • Input Devices
  • Output Devices
  • Secondary Storage Devices
  • Internal Components

Software is further divided into two main categories: 

  • Application Software
  • System Software
Developed using electronic and other materials Developed writing using instructions using a programming language
When damaged, it can be replaced with a new component When damaged it can be installed once more using a backup copy
Hardware is physical in nature and hence one can touch and see hardware The software cannot be physically touched but still can be used and seen
Hardware cannot be infected by Viruses The software can be infected by Viruses
Hardware will physically wear out over time Software does not wear out but it can be affected by bugs and glitches
An example of Hardware is hard drives, monitors, CPU, scanners, printers etc. An example of software is Windows 10, Adobe Photoshop, Google Chrome etc.

We need software because:

1. Reduces complexity

Big softwares are always complex and difficult to develop. Software engineering has a great solution to decrease the complexity of any project. Software engineering divides big problems into several small problems. And then start solving each small problem one by one. All these small problems are solved independently to each other.

2. To minimize software cost

Software requires a lot of hardwork and software engineers are highly paid professionals. A lots of man force is requires to develop software with millions of codes. But in software engineering, programmers plan everything and reduce all those things that are not required. In turn, cost for software productions becomes less as compared to any software that does not use software engineering approach.

3. To decrease time

Anything that is not made according to the plan always wastes time. And if you are making big software then you may need to run many code to get the ultimate running code. This is a very time consuming process and if it is not well managed then this can take a lot of time. So if you are making your software according to software engineering approach then it will reduce a lot of time.

4. Handling big projects

Big projects are not made in few days and they require lots of patience, planning and management. And to invest six and seven months of any company, it requires lots of planning, direction, testing and maintenance. No one can say that he has given four months of company to the project and the program is still in its first stage. Because company has given many resources to the projects and it should be completed. So to handle big projects without any problem, company has to go for software engineering approach.

5. Reliable software

Software should be reliable, means if you have delivered the software then it should work for at least it’s given time span or subscription. And if any bugs come in the software then company is responsible for solving all these bugs. Because in software engineering, testing and maintenance is provided so there is no worry of its reliability.

6. Effeteness

Effectiveness comes if anything has made according to the standards. Software standards are the big focus of companies to make it more effective. So Software becomes more effective in performance with the help of software engineering.

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