Candidates should be able to:
Sometimes abbreviated as SW and S/W, software is a collection of instructions that enable the user to interact with a computer, its hardware, or perform tasks. Without software, most computers would be useless. For example, without your Internet browser software, you could not surf the Internet or read this page and without an operating system, the browser could not run on your computer.
Software can be purchased at a retail computer store or online and come in a box containing all the disks (floppy diskette, CD, DVD, or Blu-ray), manuals, warranty, and other documentation.
Software can also be downloaded to a computer over the Internet. Once downloaded, setup files are run to start the installation process on your computer.
Once the software is installed on the computer hard drive, the program can be used anytime by finding the program on the computer. On a Windows computer, a program icon is added to the Start Menu or Start Screen, depending on your version of Windows.
After the software is installed on your computer, it may need to be updated to fix any found errors. Updating a program can be done using software patches. Once updates are installed any problems that may have been experienced in the program will no longer occur.
A computer programmer (or several computer programmers) write the instructions using a programming language that tell the software how to function and what to do. Once the program has been completed, it is compiled into a language that the computer can understand.
When you create or edit a file using your software — a Microsoft Word document, for instance, or a Photoshop image — that file is considered a "resource" or "asset" used by the software. However, the file itself is not considered "software", even though it is an essential part of what your software is doing.
The first software program that was held in electronic memory was written by Tom Kilburn. The program calculated the highest factor of the integer 2^18 = 262,144 and was successfully executed on June 21st of 1948 at the University of Manchester. The computer that held that program was called the Small Scale Experimental Machine, otherwise known as the "Baby" computer. This "Manchester Baby" is widely celebrated as the birth of software.