Aviva Directory » Computers & Internet » Software

Computer software is a program that tells a computer what to do or enabling the user to interact with the computer, perform tasks, or operate computer hardware.

Computers would be useless without software. As most computers ship with a lot of software installed, we tend to take it for granted. Generally known as a program or an application, software includes anything that runs on a computer. Examples include operating systems, programming languages, web browsers, device drivers, databases, email programs, spreadsheets, word processors, games, utilities, movie players, and audio, music, photo, and graphics programs. Although you may know them as applications (apps), everything that you do on your smartphone or tablet device is done through software, too.

When you buy a computer, smartphone, or tablet device, it comes with software installed. Software can also be purchased through retail stores or, more commonly, purchased online and downloaded to your device over the Internet. Once downloaded, a setup program installs it. Software may be commercial, meaning that you will have to pay either a purchase or a subscription price, or it may be free.

Rarely seen today, software was once commonly acquired through a shareware program, which allowed the user to use the software without charge, but requested payment from those who found it useful. This type of marketing was made popular through computer bulletin board systems (BBS's), but it declined with the rise of the Internet.

A similar marketing scheme is offered through several software companies, who offer limited versions of their software on a trial basis. Trial software may be limited as to the amount of time that it can be used or it may be limited in what the user can do with it. The purpose of trial software is to allow a prospective user to ascertain whether the program will run on their machine and that it will do what they want it to do.

Some software is offered for free but without access to the source code. This is known as freeware.

Similar to freeware, free and open-source software is available for free, including the source code, allowing users to modify the program or view how it was created. Various open-source licenses are available.

Software plays a significant role in the global information economy, as it runs the computers, devices, and networks that enable countless products and services. Software varies from several huge programs, networked together, powering major corporations or communications networks, to digital calculators and games.

Software was available as a concept long before the hardware was developed for it to run on, and it was installed on early computers simultaneously in England and the United States. Although it is a trillion-dollar industry, the entry and exit levels are low and the costs of production are minimal. Twelve-year-olds have developed applications that have become hugely popular, and many of today's largest corporations were founded by college students who dropped out in order to secure their growing business interests. It is also an industry in which more money is invested in litigation than in production. Software products are also used to attack corporations, governments, and individuals, as well as to launch cyber warfare.

Software companies can crash as quickly as they arise, as the competition is fierce.

While most of the categories in the Computers & Internet section of this directory involve software, just as the directory itself is powered by software, the software topics that will be covered within this category, or its subcategories, includes business software, communications software, databases, graphics software, graphs, and graph analysis, as well as software intended to design and maintain websites, access the Internet, monitor search engine rankings, and other Internet utilities. Also included are office suites, software that provides simulations and other tasks for scientific interactions, and systems software. Web directories focused on software are listed in a subcategory here, as are shareware or freeware organizations or guides, although sites focused on individual shareware or freeware programs should be listed according to what they do. A subcategory for software development is here too, focusing on topics related to giving life to a program, which may include project planning, software design, configuration management, code implementation, testing, deployment, and maintenance.

Wherever a more specific category exists, a resource should be submitted to that category.




Data & Graph Analysis



Education & Training

Internet & Intranet


Office Suites


Shareware & Freeware

Software Development

System Software

Text & Code Editors



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