Computer software, or simply software, is a generic term that refers to a collection of data or computer instructions that tell the computer how to work, in contrast to the physical hardware from which the system is built, that actually performs the work. In computer science and software engineering, computer software is all information processed by computer systems, programs and data. Computer software includes computer programs, libraries and related non-executable data, such as online documentation or digital media. Computer hardware and software require each other and neither can be realistically used on its own.
At the lowest level, executable code consists of machine language instructions specific to an individual processor--typically a central processing unit (CPU). A machine language consists of groups of binary values signifying processor instructions that change the state of the computer from its preceding state. For example, an instruction may change the value stored in a particular storage location in the computer--an effect that is not directly observable to the user. An instruction may also (indirectly) cause something to appear on a display of the computer system--a state change which should be visible to the user. The processor carries out the instructions in the order they are provided, unless it is instructed to "jump" to a different instruction, or is interrupted by the operating system.(By now multi-core processors are dominant, where each core can run instructions in order; then, however, each application software runs only on one core by default, but some software has been made to run on many).
The majority of software is written in high-level programming languages that are easier and more efficient for programmers to use because they are closer than machine languages to natural languages. High-level languages are translated into machine language using a compiler or an interpreter or a combination of the two. Software may also be written in a low-level assembly language, which has strong correspondence to the computer's machine language instructions and is translated into machine language using an assembler.
|(Pictured left: The GNU Image Manipulation Program (GIMP), version 2.4.3. GIMP is freely distributed software.
Application software, also known as an application or an "app", is computer software designed to help the user to perform specific tasks. Examples include enterprise software, accounting software, office suites, graphics software and media players. Many application programs deal principally with documents. Apps may be bundled with the computer and its system software, or may be published separately. Some users are satisfied with the bundled apps and need never install one.
Application software is contrasted with system software and middleware, which manage and integrate a computer's capabilities, but typically do not directly apply them in the performance of tasks that benefit the user. The system software serves the application, which in turn serves the user.
Similar relationships apply in other fields. For example, a shopping mall does not provide the merchandise a shopper is seeking, but provides space and services for retailers that serve the shopper. Rail tracks similarly support trains, allowing the trains to transport passengers.
Application software applies the power of a particular computing platform or system software to a particular purpose. Some apps such as Microsoft Office are available in versions for several different platforms; others have narrower requirements and are thus called, for example, a geography application for Windows or an Android application for education or Linux gaming. Sometimes a new and popular application arises which only runs on one platform, increasing the desirability of that platform. This is called a killer application.
|'William Henry Gates III |
'William Henry Gates III, (b. October 28, 1955), commonly known as Bill Gates is the founder, chairman, former chief software architect, and former CEO of Microsoft. He is consistently ranked in the Forbes list of the world's wealthiest people. Between 2009 and 2014 his wealth more than doubled from $40 billion to more than $82 billion. When family wealth is considered, his family ranks second behind the Walton family. Gates is the first one to reach the richest peak from the technology world.
Gates is a leading philanthropist, and has stated that he intends to give away the majority of his vast wealth. He and his wife set up the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (B&MGF) in 1994 with the aim of improving health and combating poverty in developing regions across the world. He has attracted considerable acclaim for the Foundation's work, including its work in combating HIV infection in Africa.
Gates finally quit day-to-day responsibility at Microsoft in June 2008 in favour of running the B&MGF after a long period of moving away from executive control, originally as CEO, then as 'Chief Software Architect'. Gates remains chairman of Microsoft.
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