What is software? Program and firmware concepts

This post is lesson 3 of 42 in the subject Computer Hardware

Do you think that software and programs are no different? Actually, they have certain differences. So what’s the difference between them? The answer is right below.

1. What is software?

Software is a collection of programs or data (text, images, videos, etc.) to instruct a computer to perform tasks. For example, Microsoft Word, and Google Chrome web browser is software.

Based on the intended use, the software can be divided into 3 categories:

  • System software
  • Application software
  • Malware
Examples of software
Examples of software

2. Definition of the program

A program is a set of instructions that tells a computer what to do in a specific order. Programs are written using programming languages such as C/C++, Java, and others. The instructions are written in a form that humans can read, called “source code”. To run the program, the source code needs to be compiled or interpreted into machine code to be executed by the computer’s CPU.

The software includes programs that have been compiled or interpreted, tested, and debugged during the development process. While a program is not software by itself, the software is made up of one or more completed programs.

Below is the source code of a program written in C++.

Source code of a program written in C++
Source code of a program written in C++

3. What is firmware?

Firmware and software
Firmware and software

Firmware is a computer program that’s used to control electronic devices. These programs are usually stored in the ROM memory of hardware devices. Firmware is typically written in assembly language or C/C++. The BIOS program in a computer is an example of firmware.

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