Software is defined as the totality of all means available in the form of programs and documentation for the operation of electronic data processing systems, mainframes, process computers, minicomputers, personalcomputers, tablets, etc., as well as automation and control equipment, measuring instruments, monitoring devices and machine complexes based on programmable computer modules. A general distinction is made between system software, standard software and application software.
The system software or the basic software is hardware-related and independent of the concrete computer application. This includes the operating system and the firmware, the programming and database systems as well as the communication and graphics software.
Application software serves the use of a given computer for the treatment of a concrete user problem. It is divided into application-independent, application-dependent and industry-dependent standard user software. The former include programs for word processing, address management, spreadsheet, database, presentation and graphics programs. Application-specific software includes programs for administrative, logistical, technical and management tasks. And industry-specific programs are about solutions for designers, logisticians, construction planners, tax consultants, designers and many other professions and industries.
Software is developed by programmers. Depending on the concept, it can be used freely, be protected by copyright, or be acquired and used for a license fee. There are different models for this: Freeware, Liteware, Shareware, Crippleware, Expireware, Demoware, Public-Domain-Software or Open-Source-Software.