Computer Software

Computer software, or simply software is any set of machine-readable instructions that directs a computer’s processor to perform specific operations. Computer software contrasts with computer hardware, which is the physical component of computers. Computer hardware and software require each other and neither can be realistically used without the other. Using a musical analogy, hardware is like a musical instrument and software is like the notes played on that instrument.

Computer software includes computer programs, libraries and their associated documentation. The word software is also sometimes used in a more narrow sense, meaning application software only. Software is stored in computer memory and is intangible, i.e. it cannot be touched.

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 inside 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 interrupted.

Software written in a machine language is known as “machine code”. However, in practice, software 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 translated, using compilation or interpretation or a combination of the two, into machine language. Software may also be written in a low-level assembly language, essentially, a vaguely mnemonic representation of a machine language using a natural language alphabet. Assembly language is translated into machine code using an assembler.

ADOBE ACROBAT – is a family of application software and web services developed by Adobe Systems to view, create, manipulate, print and manage files in Portable Document Format (PDF).

The family comprises Reader (formerly Acrobat Reader), Acrobat (formerly Acrobat Exchange) and Acrobat.com. The freeware Adobe Reader, available for several desktop and mobile platforms, can view, print and annotate PDF files. The commercial proprietary Acrobat, available for Windows and OS X only, can also create, edit, convert, digitally sign, encrypt, export and publish PDF files. Acrobat.com complements the family with a variety of enterprise content management and file hosting services.

For more information visit:

Wikipedia: Adobe Acrobat

ANDROID – is a mobile operating system (OS) based on the Linux kernel and currently developed by Google. With a user interface based on direct manipulation, Android is designed primarily for touchscreen mobile devices such as smartphones and tablet computers, with specialized user interfaces for televisions (Android TV), cars (Android Auto), and wrist watches (Android Wear). The OS uses touch inputs that loosely correspond to real-world actions, like swiping, tapping, pinching, and reverse pinching to manipulate on-screen objects, and a virtual keyboard. Despite being primarily designed for touchscreen input, it also has been used in game consoles, digital cameras, regular PCs (e.g. the HP Slate 21) and other electronics.

Android is the most widely used mobile OS and, as of 2013, the highest selling OS overall. Android devices sell more than Windows, iOS, and Mac OS X devices combined, with sales in 2012, 2013 and 2014 close to the installed base of all PCs. As of July 2013 the Google Play store has had over 1 million Android apps published, and over 50 billion apps downloaded. A developer survey conducted in April–May 2013 found that 71% of mobile developers develop for Android. At Google I/O 2014, the company revealed that there were over 1 billion active monthly Android users, up from 538 million in June 2013.

Android’s source code is released by Google under open source licenses, although most Android devices ultimately ship with a combination of open source and proprietary software. Initially developed by Android, Inc., which Google backed financially and later bought in 2005, Android was unveiled in 2007 along with the founding of the Open Handset Alliance—​a consortium of hardware, software, and telecommunication companies devoted to advancing open standards for mobile devices.

Android is popular with technology companies which require a ready-made, low-cost and customizable operating system for high-tech devices. Android’s open nature has encouraged a large community of developers and enthusiasts to use the open-source code as a foundation for community-driven projects, which add new features for advanced users or bring Android to devices which were officially released running other operating systems. The operating system’s success has made it a target for patent litigation as part of the so-called “smartphone wars” between technology companies.

For more information visit:

Wikipedia: Android (operating system)

CHROME OS – is an operating system based on the Linux kernel and designed by Google to work with web applications and installed applications. Initially, Chrome OS was almost a pure web thin client operating system, with only a handful of “native” applications, but Google gradually began encouraging developers to create “packaged applications”, some of which can work offline. In 2014, Google upgraded its Play Store standards for packaged applications, requiring that these applications work offline. Around the same time, Google also announced that Chrome OS would gain the ability to run Android applications natively, by late 2014. In September 2014, App Runtime for Chrome (beta) was launched together with four Android applications being able to run on Chrome OS.

Chrome OS is built upon the open source project called Chromium OS which, unlike Chrome OS, can be compiled from the downloaded source code. Chrome OS is the commercial version installed on specific hardware from Google’s manufacturing partners. The launch date for retail hardware featuring Chrome OS was delayed from late 2010 to June 15, 2011, when “Chromebooks” from Samsung, and then Acer shipped in July. In 2014 the “Chromebox” became available for running Chrome OS as a desktop alternative.

For more information visit:

Wikipedia: Chrome OS
Wikipedia: Chromebook
Wikipedia: Chromebox

INTERNET EXPLORER – (formerly Microsoft Internet Explorer and Windows Internet Explorer, commonly abbreviated IE or MSIE) is a series of graphical web browsers developed by Microsoft and included as part of the Microsoft Windows line of operating systems, starting in 1995. It was first released as part of the add-on package Plus! for Windows 95 that year. Later versions were available as free downloads, or in service packs, and included in the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) service releases of Windows 95 and later versions of Windows.

Internet Explorer is one of the most widely used web browsers, attaining a peak of about 95% usage share during 2002 and 2003. Its usage share has since declined with the launch of Firefox (2004) and Google Chrome (2008), and with the growing popularity of operating systems such as OS X, Linux, iOS and Android that do not run Internet Explorer. Estimates for Internet Explorer’s overall market share range from 27.4% to 54.13%, as of October 2012 (browser market share is notoriously difficult to calculate). Microsoft spent over US$100 million per year on Internet Explorer in the late 1990, with over 1000 people working on it by 1999.

Since its first release, Microsoft has added features and technologies such as basic table display (in version 1.5); XMLHttpRequest (in version 5), which aids creation of dynamic web pages; and Internationalized Domain Names (in version 7), which allow Web sites to have native-language addresses with non-Latin characters. The browser has also received scrutiny throughout its development for use of third-party technology (such as the source code of Spyglass Mosaic, used without royalty in early versions) and security and privacy vulnerabilities, and both the United States and the European Union have alleged that integration of Internet Explorer with Windows has been to the detriment of other browsers.

The latest stable release (as of this posting) is Internet Explorer 11, with an interface allowing for use as both a desktop application, and as a Windows 8 application.

Versions of Internet Explorer for other operating systems have also been produced, including an Xbox 360 version called Internet Explorer for Xbox and an embedded OEM version called Pocket Internet Explorer, later rebranded Internet Explorer Mobile, which is based on Internet Explorer 9 and made for Windows Phone, Windows CE, and previously, based on Internet Explorer 7 for Windows Mobile. It remains in development alongside the desktop versions. Internet Explorer for Mac and Internet Explorer for UNIX (Solaris and HP-UX) have been discontinued.

From January 12, 2016, only the most recent version of Internet Explorer on each operating system will be supported, depending on operating system it will be IE 11 or could be down to IE 9 for older desktop/server Windows versions or down to IE 7 for older embedded Windows versions.

On April 26, 2014, Microsoft issued a security advisory relating to a vulnerability that could allow “remote code execution” in Internet Explorer versions 6 to 11. The vulnerability was resolved with a security update on May 1, 2014.

For more information visit:

Wikipedia: Internet Explorer

iOS – (previously iPhone OS) is a mobile operating system developed by Apple Inc. and distributed exclusively for Apple hardware. It is the operating system that powers many of the company’s iDevices.

Originally unveiled in 2007 for the iPhone, it has been extended to support other Apple devices such as the iPod Touch (September 2007), iPad (January 2010), iPad Mini (November 2012) and second-generation Apple TV onward (September 2010). As of June 2014, Apple’s App Store contained more than 1.2 million iOS applications, 500,000 of which were optimized for iPad. These apps have collectively been downloaded more than 60 billion times. It had a 21% share of the smartphone mobile operating system units shipped in the fourth quarter of 2012, behind Google’s Android. By the middle of 2012, there were 410 million devices activated. According to the special media event held by Apple on September 12, 2012, 400 million devices had been sold by June 2012.

The user interface of iOS is based on the concept of direct manipulation, using multi-touch gestures. Interface control elements consist of sliders, switches, and buttons. Interaction with the OS includes gestures such as swipe, tap, pinch, and reverse pinch, all of which have specific definitions within the context of the iOS operating system and its multi-touch interface. Internal accelerometers are used by some applications to respond to shaking the device (one common result is the undo command) or rotating it in three dimensions (one common result is switching from portrait to landscape mode).

iOS shares with OS X some frameworks such as Core Foundation and Foundation; however, its UI toolkit is Cocoa Touch rather than OS X’s Cocoa, so that it provides the UIKit framework rather than the AppKit framework. It is therefore not compatible with OS X for applications. Also while iOS also shares the Darwin foundation with OS X, Unix-like shell access is not available for users and restricted for apps, making iOS not fully Unix-compatible either.

Major versions of iOS are released annually. The current release (as of this posting), iOS 8.1.2, was released on December 9, 2014. In iOS, there are four abstraction layers: the Core OS layer, the Core Services layer, the Media layer, and the Cocoa Touch layer. The current version of the operating system (iOS 8.0), dedicates 1.3 – 1.5GB of the device’s flash memory for the system partition, using roughly 800 MB of that partition (varying by model) for iOS itself. It runs on the iPhone 4S and later, iPad 2 and later, all models of the iPad Mini, and the 5th-generation iPod Touch.

For more information visit:

Wikipedia: iOS

Mac OS – also known as just OS X, is a series of Unix-based graphical interface operating systems developed and marketed by Apple Inc. It is designed to run on Mac computers, having been pre-installed on all Macs since 2002. It was the successor to Mac OS 9, released in 1999, the final release of the “classic” Mac OS, which had been Apple’s primary operating system since 1984. The first version released was Mac OS X Server 1.0 in 1999, and a desktop version, Mac OS X v10.0 “Cheetah” followed on March 24, 2001. Previous releases of OS X were named after big cats; for example, OS X v10.8 was referred to as “Mountain Lion”. However, with the announcement of OS X Mavericks in June 2013, this was dropped in favor of Californian landmarks. Within the market of desktop, laptop and home computers, and by web usage, OS X is the second most widely used OS after Windows.

OS X, whose X is the Roman numeral for 10 and is a prominent part of its brand identity, is built on technologies developed at NeXT between the second half of the 1980s and Apple’s purchase of the company in late 1996. The ‘X’ is also used to emphasize the relatedness between OS X and UNIX. Versions 10.5 “Leopard” running on Intel processors, 10.6 “Snow Leopard”, 10.7 “Lion”, 10.8 “Mountain Lion”, 10.9 “Mavericks”, and 10.10 “Yosemite” have obtained UNIX 03 certification. iOS, which runs on the iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, and the 2nd and 3rd generation Apple TV, shares the Darwin core and many frameworks with OS X. An unnamed variant of v10.4 powered the first generation Apple TV.

Early versions of Mac OS X were compiled to run on the PowerPC CPUs used by Macs of the period. After Apple announced it would shift to using Intel x86 CPUs from 2006 onwards, Tiger and Leopard were released in versions for Intel and PowerPC processors. Snow Leopard was the first version released only for Intel Macs. Since the release of Mac OS X 10.7 “Lion”, OS X has dropped support for 32-bit Intel processors as well. It now runs exclusively on 64-bit Intel CPUs.

Apple offers an application for OS X called OS X Server, for use on servers. It includes tools to facilitate management of workgroups of OS X machines, and to provide network services. It is sold separately through the Mac App Store as a single application; it remained sold up to 2014 preinstalled on dedicated server computers. Before the release of Mac OS X 10.7 “Lion”, a separate edition of Mac OS X, called Mac OS X Server, with additional tools bundled with the operating system was sold and was preinstalled on servers.

The current version (as of this posting) of OS X is 10.10 Yosemite, which was released to the public on October 16, 2014.

For more information visit:

Wikipedia: OS X

MICROSOFT OFFICE – is an office suite of desktop applications, servers and services for Microsoft Windows and OS X operating systems. It was first announced by Bill Gates of Microsoft on 1 August 1988 at COMDEX in Las Vegas. Initially a marketing term for a bundled set of applications, the first version of Office contained Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel and Microsoft PowerPoint. Over the years, Office applications have grown substantially closer with shared features such as a common spell checker, OLE data integration and Visual Basic for Applications scripting language. Microsoft also positions Office as a development platform for line-of-business software under the Office Business Applications brand.

On 10 July 2012, Softpedia reported that Office is used by over a billion people worldwide.

The current versions are Office 2013 for Windows, released on 11 October 2012; and Office 2011 for OS X, released 26 October 2010. On 24 October 2012, the RTM final code of Office 2013 Professional Plus was released to TechNet and MSDN subscribers for download. On 15 November 2012, the 60-day trial version of Office 2013 Professional Plus was released for download.

A touch optimised version of Microsoft Office is available pre-installed on Windows RT tablets. A mobile version of Office, Office Mobile, is available for free on Windows Phone, iOS (with separate versions for both iPhones and iPads), and Android. A web-based version of Office called Office Online, (formerly Office Web Apps) is also available. Microsoft has stated that it plans to create a version of Office for Android tablets (“and other popular platforms”) as well.

For more information visit:

Wikipedia: Microsoft Office

MICROSOFT WINDOWS – or Windows is a metafamily of graphical operating systems developed, marketed, and sold by Microsoft. It consists of several families of operating systems, each of which cater to a certain sector of the computing industry. Active Windows families include Windows NT, Windows Embedded and Windows Phone; these may encompass subfamilies, e.g. Windows Embedded Compact (Windows CE) or Windows Server. Defunct Windows families include Windows 9x and Windows Mobile.

Microsoft introduced an operating environment named Windows on November 20, 1985 as a graphical operating system shell for MS-DOS in response to the growing interest in graphical user interfaces (GUIs). Microsoft Windows came to dominate the world’s personal computer market with over 90% market share, overtaking Mac OS, which had been introduced in 1984. However, it is outsold by Android on smartphones and tablets.

As of April 2014, the most recent versions of Windows for personal computers, smartphones, server computers and embedded devices are respectively Windows 8.1, Windows Phone 8.1, Windows Server 2012 R2 and Windows Embedded 8. A specialized version of Windows runs on the Xbox One game console.

For more information visit:

Wikipedia: Microsoft Windows

MOZILLA FIREFOX – (known simply as Firefox) is a free and open-source web browser developed for Windows, OS X, and Linux, with a mobile version for Android, by the Mozilla Foundation and its subsidiary, the Mozilla Corporation. Firefox uses the Gecko layout engine to render web pages, which implements current and anticipated web standards.

As of February 2014, Firefox has between 12% and 22% of worldwide usage, making it, per different sources, the third most popular web browser. According to Mozilla, as of December 2014 Firefox counts half a billion users around the world. The browser has had particular success in Indonesia, Iran, Germany, and Poland, where it is the most popular browser with 55%, 46%, 43%, and 41% of the market share, respectively.

For more information visit:

Wikipedia: Mozilla Firefox

MOZILLA THUNDERBIRD – Mozilla Thunderbird is a free, open source, cross-platform e-mail and news client developed by the Mozilla Foundation. The project strategy is modeled after Mozilla Firefox, a project aimed at creating a web browser. On December 7, 2004, version 1.0 was released, and received over 500,000 downloads in its first three days of release, and 1,000,000 in 10 days.

For more information visit:

Wikipedia: Mozilla Thunderbird

LIBREOFFICE – is a free and open source office suite, developed by The Document Foundation. It was forked from OpenOffice.org in 2010, which was an open-sourced version of the earlier StarOffice. The LibreOffice suite comprises programs to do word processing, spreadsheets, slideshows, diagrams and drawings, maintain databases, and compose mathematical formulae.

LibreOffice uses the international ISO/IEC standard OpenDocument file format as its native format to save documents for all of its applications (as do its OpenOffice.org cousins Apache OpenOffice and NeoOffice). The OpenDocument file format is now also supported by all major competing office suite applications (proprietary and open source). LibreOffice is also compatible with other major office suites, including Microsoft Office, through a variety of import/export filters. The file formats of Microsoft Office are well supported, though some layout features and formatting attributes are handled differently in the application or are not entirely supported in the filters. LibreOffice is available in over 110 languages and for a variety of computing platforms, including Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard or newer, and Linux. It is the default office suite of most popular Linux distributions.

Between January 2011 (the first stable release) and October 2011, LibreOffice was downloaded approximately 7.5 million times. During 2012, the office suite was downloaded about 15 million times and in 2013 it was downloaded 25 million times.

For more information visit:

Wikipedia: LibreOffice

UBUNTU – (/uːˈbuːntuː/ oo-BOON-too) is a Debian-based Linux operating system, with Unity as its default desktop environment. It is based on free software and named after the Southern African philosophy of ubuntu (literally, “human-ness”), which often is translated as “humanity towards others” or “the belief in a universal bond of sharing that connects all humanity”.

Development of Ubuntu is led by UK-based Canonical Ltd., a company owned by South African entrepreneur Mark Shuttleworth. Canonical generates revenue through the sale of technical support and other services related to Ubuntu. The Ubuntu project is publicly committed to the principles of open source development; people are encouraged to use free software, study how it works, improve upon it, and distribute it.

For more information visit:

Wikipedia: Ubuntu
Wikipedia: Linux Mint (based on Ubuntu)