Software and hardware: What are they

The technological environment is full of different nomenclatures, mainly in English, which can end up causing a certain amount of confusion for those who are not familiar with the area.

Two names that may seem complicated are Software and Hardware, essential parts of a technological device, and which, in practice, have distinct and very easy to understand functions.

What is Software?

Software, in general, is the untouchable part of a machine developed by codes and programming languages. It is formed by the set of instructions given to a computer, which must be followed and executed by a mechanism, so that it performs a certain task.

These instructions create the actions within the program, and allow its operation. Each action is determined by a sequence, and these sequences are grouped to form the program. These commands come together, creating a complex program.

The software is present on your computer, cell phone, tablet, TV, video game, among others. And it can present itself in several ways, either through a text editor, a browser, a photo editor, a game, a streaming app, an accounting system.

Types of Software

There are three main types of Software, and each of them has a specific purpose within IT.

The Application Software contains all the programs derived from a Software programming and that fulfill a specific task, in almost all possible areas. They are used by mobile devices and computers, and their product is offered to the final consumer. Like the Office Package, which allows the creation of documents, spreadsheets, slides, etc..

The programming software uses the logical knowledge and object oriented programming language to develop new software and systems. These programs can be written by different programming languages (C, Java, Python, Swift) and host compilers, interpreters and debuggers.

Finally, the System Software, which is considered the most important. For it is it that allows the user to use the operating system interface incorporated into the device.

The System Software is made up of a set of native programs or applications, in charge of making the communication between the computer – which only understands machine language – and the end user. This is then the basis on which the Application Software and the Programming Software will run. Windows, iOS and Android are some examples of System Software.

Thus, we can say that the System Software is what connects the applications to the Hardware resources that the device has.

What is Hardware?

Hardware is a term used to describe computer devices that make up your desktop computer, laptop, mobile tablet or smartphone or anything that is connected to this equipment.

Another way to describe Hardware is anything that can be physically touched – think of the computer’s monitor, mouse, keyboard, CD ROM drive or printer.

Your computer needs Hardware to work, but it’s the Software that provides commands to the Hardware and tells you what to do. For example, you can use the Software and have it print out a physical copy of a document you are typing on your computer.

The Software will send that command to an external printer (connected to your computer) and perform the task for you.

Main points:

  • The physical components of the computer are known as Hardware. In fact, it is a collective term that has a wide meaning now.
  • Hardware is always tangible and therefore the user can touch, see and feel the Hardware.
  • Physical materials are used to compose the Hardware, which again means that the user can touch it to see and feel it.
  • The Hardware is never affected by viruses that mainly affect the Software.
  • Hardware damage is something that can be replaced by a new one.
  • Electronic transfer of the Hardware is not possible. For example, the Hardware is never transferred in the form of signals.
  • Duplicate copies of the Hardware are not possible by the user himself.

Can a computer work without Hardware?

All this depends on the Hardware in question. Most computers require at least one monitor, hard disk, keyboard, memory, motherboard, processor, power supply and video card to work properly.

If any of these devices are missing or defective, an error will be found or the computer will not start. It is not necessary to add hardware such as a disk drive (e.g. CD-ROM or DVD), modem, mouse, network card, printer, sound card or speakers, but it does offer additional functionality to the computer.

On that same computer, the Software can be installed and allow a person to interact with the Hardware. Operating systems, such as Windows or MacOS, are Software and provide a graphical interface for people to use the computer and other Software on the computer. A person can create documents and different files using the right Software.