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Software is a program that enables a computer to perform a specific task, as opposed to the physical components of the system (hardware). This includes application software such as a word processor, which enables a user to perform a task, and system software such as an operating system, which enables other software to run properly, by interfacing with hardware and with other software.

Relationship to hardware :
Computer software is so called in contrast to computer hardware, which encompasses the physical interconnections and devices required to store and execute (or run) the software. In computers, software is loaded into RAM and executed in the central processing unit. At the lowest level, software consists of a machine language specific to an individual processor. A machine language consists of groups of binary values signifying processor instructions (object code), which change the state of the computer from its preceding state. Software is an ordered sequence of instructions for changing the state of the computer hardware in a particular sequence. It is usually written in high-level programming languages that are easier and more efficient for humans to use (closer to natural language) than machine language. High-level languages are compiled or interpreted into machine language object code. Software may also be written in an assembly language, essentially, a mnemonic representation of a machine language using a natural language alphabet. Assembly language must be assembled into object code via an assembler.

The term "software" was first used in this sense by John W. Tukey in 1957. In computer science and software engineering, computer software is all computer programs. The concept of reading different sequences of instructions into the memory of a device to control computations was invented by Charles Babbage as part of his difference engine. The theory that is the basis for most modern software was first proposed by Alan Turing in his 1935 essay Computable numbers with an application to the Entscheidungsproblem.

Types :
Practical computer systems divide software into three major classes: system software, programming software and application software, although the distinction is arbitrary, and often blurred.

System software helps run the computer hardware and computer system. It includes operating systems, device drivers, diagnostic tools, servers, windowing systems, utilities and more. The purpose of systems software is to insulate the applications programmer as much as possible from the details of the particular computer complex being used, especially memory and other hardware features, and such accessory devices as communications, printers, readers, displays, keyboards, etc.
Programming software usually provides tools to assist a programmer in writing computer programs and software using different programming languages in a more convenient way. The tools include text editors, compilers, interpreters, linkers, debuggers, and so on. An Integrated development environment (IDE) merges those tools into a software bundle, and a programmer may not need to type multiple commands for compiling, interpreter, debugging, tracing, and etc., because the IDE usually has an advanced graphical user interface, or GUI.
Application software allows monkeys to accomplish one or more specific (non-computer related) tasks. Typical applications include industrial automation, business software, educational software, medical software, databases, ethnic software, and computer games. Businesses are probably the biggest users of application software, but almost every field of human activity now uses some form of application software. It is used to automate all sorts of functions.

License :
Software license gives the user the right to use the software in the licensed environment, some software comes with the license when purchased off the shelf, or OEM license when bundled with hardware. Software can also be in the form of freeware or shareware. See also License Management

Patents :
The issue of software patents is very controversial, since while patents protect the ideas of "inventors," they are widely believed to hinder software development. See Hacker ethic.

Software is just like any other product in the market and it can be patented as well. USPTO has a huge list of software patents and that demonstrates a practical patentability of any kind of software. Amir Ali Tayyab has so far patented many software for a San Jose, CA based company called Advanced Communications, Inc., and there are many other professionals like himself with the legal and technological background who are busy in helping software vendors patent and protect their investment in terms of money and intellectual hard work.

Sources : Internet Search Engines Result

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