Main types of software

Three computer monitors displaying different types of generic, specialised and bespoke software


General-purpose software, such as word processors and spreadsheets.

Specialised packages

Sold for specific uses, eg managing the accounts of a large organisation.

Bespoke software

Written specially for the end user by a team of people within the company or by external consultants, for example the software which manages London's congestion-charging system.

For more detailed information about software types, go to the section on applications and programing languages.

  1. application A software program that allows a user to perform a specific task.
  2. benchmark A measurement of performance, there are software and hardware benchmarks.
  3. crash When an application or operating system no longer responds. Crashes can be caused by software and hardware.
  4. data Values, typically letters or numbers.
  5. hardware The physical parts of a computer system, eg a graphics card, hard disk drive, CD drive, etc.
  6. input device A device used to input data or information into a computer, eg a keyboard, mouse, scanner, microphone etc.
  7. Linux An operating system, similar to Windows or Mac OS. Linux is free and open-source, meaning anyone can improve it and share their improvements.
  8. operating system The software that manages the hardware and software resources in a computer system.
  9. OSX A version of Apple's Mac OS operating system for Apple computers.
  10. output device A device used to output data or information from a computer, eg a monitor, printer or speakers.
  11. software The programs, applications and data in a computer system. Any parts of a computer system that aren't physical.
  12. spreadsheet A piece of software used to manipulate data, often used in modelling.
  13. user interface The means by which a user interacts with a computer or device.
  14. web The complete set of webpages and documents held on all internet severs. Also known as the world wide web.
  15. Windows Microsoft's brand of operating systems, eg Windows 98, Windows XP, Windows Vista, etc.
  16. word processor An application used to write, edit and format text.