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Software Engineering | Classification of Software

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  • Difficulty Level : Easy
  • Last Updated : 06 Oct, 2022
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The software is used extensively in several domains including hospitals, banks, schools, defense, finance, stock markets, and so on. It can be categorized into different types: 

On the basis of application:

  1. System Software – 
    System Software is necessary to manage the computer resources and support the execution of application programs. Software like operating systems, compilers, editors and drivers, etc., come under this category. A computer cannot function without the presence of these. Operating systems are needed to link the machine-dependent needs of a program with the capabilities of the machine on which it runs. Compilers translate programs from high-level language to machine language. 
  2. Application Software – 
    Application software is designed to fulfill the user’s requirement by interacting with the user directly. It could be classified into two major categories:- generic or customized. Generic Software is the software that is open to all and behaves the same for all of its users. Its function is limited and not customized as per the user’s changing requirements. However, on the other hand, Customized software is the software products that are designed as per the client’s requirement, and are not available for all.  
  3. Networking and Web Applications Software – 
    Networking Software provides the required support necessary for computers to interact with each other and with data storage facilities. Networking software is also used when software is running on a network of computers (such as the World Wide Web). It includes all network management software, server software, security and encryption software, and software to develop web-based applications like HTML, PHP, XML, etc. 


  4. Embedded Software – 
    This type of software is embedded into the hardware normally in the Read-Only Memory (ROM) as a part of a large system and is used to support certain functionality under the control conditions. Examples are software used in instrumentation and control applications like washing machines, satellites, microwaves, etc. 


  5. Reservation Software – 
    A Reservation system is primarily used to store and retrieve information and perform transactions related to air travel, car rental, hotels, or other activities. They also provide access to bus and railway reservations, although these are not always integrated with the main system. These are also used to relay computerized information for users in the hotel industry, making a reservation and ensuring that the hotel is not overbooked. 


  6. Business Software – 
    This category of software is used to support business applications and is the most widely used category of software. Examples are software for inventory management, accounts, banking, hospitals, schools, stock markets, etc. 


  7. Entertainment Software – 
    Education and entertainment software provides a powerful tool for educational agencies, especially those that deal with educating young children. There is a wide range of entertainment software such as computer games, educational games, translation software, mapping software, etc. 


  8. Artificial Intelligence Software – 
    Software like expert systems, decision support systems, pattern recognition software, artificial neural networks, etc. come under this category. They involve complex problems which are not affected by complex computations using non-numerical algorithms. 


  9. Scientific Software – 
    Scientific and engineering software satisfies the needs of a scientific or engineering user to perform enterprise-specific tasks. Such software is written for specific applications using principles, techniques, and formulae particular to that field. Examples are software like MATLAB, AUTOCAD, PSPICE, ORCAD, etc. 


  10. Utilities Software – 
    The programs coming under this category perform specific tasks and are different from other software in terms of size, cost, and complexity. Examples are anti-virus software, voice recognition software, compression programs, etc. 


  11. Document Management Software – 
    Document Management Software is used to track, manage and store documents in order to reduce the paperwork. Such systems are capable of keeping a record of the various versions created and modified by different users (history tracking). They commonly provide storage, versioning, metadata, security, as well as indexing and retrieval capabilities. 

On the basis of copyright:

  1. Commercial – 
    It represents the majority of software that we purchase from software companies, commercial computer stores, etc. In this case, when a user buys software, they acquire a license key to use it. Users are not allowed to make copies of the software. The copyright of the program is owned by the company. 
  2. Shareware – 
    Shareware software is also covered under copyright but the purchasers are allowed to make and distribute copies with the condition that after testing the software, if the purchaser adopts it for use, then they must pay for it. 

    In both of the above types of software, changes to the software are not allowed. 

  3. Freeware – 
    In general, according to freeware software licenses, copies of the software can be made both for archival and distribution purposes but here, distribution cannot be for making a profit. Derivative works and modifications to the software are allowed and encouraged. Decompiling of the program code is also allowed without the explicit permission of the copyright holder. 


  4. Public Domain – 
    In the case of public domain software, the original copyright holder explicitly relinquishes all rights to the software. Hence software copies can be made both for archival and distribution purposes with no restrictions on distribution. Modifications to the software and reverse engineering are also allowed. 
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