Software is simply a set of instructions and information that tell a computer how to perform a certain task. Often this is compared to physical hardware where the machine does the work and is built by the company that produces it. Hardware like hard drives, motherboards, CPUs, etc. are all physical components. Software on the other hand is a process.
So what is the difference? Software, as we see it, is just a series of programs written to run on a particular type of computer. Hardware, on the other hand, is more like a specific device. It could be a mouse, keyboard, or digital camera. Some examples of hardware are hard drives, keyboards, etc., whereas most applications software are made to run on a computer’s operating system.
The software for a computer system is very similar to that of an instruction set for a machine. In both cases, some commands tell the processor how to perform its job. For example, if you want to tell your computer to print a document, you would tell it what character to use to print that document. The operating system software is programmed to do just that.
The software can be divided further into two main categories, such as using software packages and system software packages. User software packages are designed to assist the user in using a particular program. For example, an online browser is a useful software package that a user would use to browse the Internet. The system software packages on the other hand are designed to be used by computer administrators. They give instructions to the processor on how the computer can function.
Typically, the hardware of a computer system is directly attached to the main memory of the machine. The operating system can be installed into the main memory or can make use of virtual memory to save processing resources. Some operating systems have virtual memory. In some cases, one can even boot up from a pre-installed operating system rather than from the main memory.
On the other hand, application software consists of processes that are executed inside the machine. They include programming language, environment, and error handling instructions. There are two major types of application software: the stand-alone application software and the multi-user applications (such as web servers, personal computers, and servers).