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What is software? A beginners overview...

Software lets you use your computer (PC). You use software when you turn on your computer, write documents, manage files, play games, listen to music, watch movies, send and receive email, browse the World Wide Web... the list is endless.

Other names for software include " programs", "applications", "tools" and "utilities". Your computer's operating system is also software.

Where do I obtain software?

There are thousands of different software products available. Some software, such as an operating system, might be included on your computer when you buy it. Additional software can be purchased from shops or downloaded and purchased on the Internet. Some software is even free. Click here for a list of websites from which you can download software.

How do I use software?

Software needs to be installed on your computer before it can be used. Click here for an overview of how to do this.

How does software work?

Software is a set of complex instructions that are programmed (written) by a software publisher (sometimes called a programmer or software developer). These instructions are compiled electronically in such a way so that a computer can understand and run them.

Differences between software and hardware

Your computer consists of software and hardware components. As explained above, software lets you use your computer. The term "hardware", in comparison, refers to the physical components that make up your computer including the actual computer itself (consisting of many differnet components including mother boards, hard drives, memory), the screen (monitor), mouse/pointing device, speakers, scanner, printer etc.

Use caution when installing software

Most software is published by reputable publishers and programmers. Unfortunately however, some software may contain viruses and other threats that could damage your computer.

You should therefore always have good up-to-date anti-virus, firewall and anti-spyware software installed on your computer and ensure the software you download and install comes from reputable publisher.

Please note that membership of the Software Industry Professionals does not mean that a software publisher's products are guaranteed to be safe to use. You should always check software to ensure it is safe to use before you download or install it.

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