hardware development tools

What Are the Main Software Components of a Computer?

Software is a collection of instructions and data that instructs a computer or other electronic device how to execute specific tasks. This differs from hardware, which consists of the physical parts of an electronic system which the software controls.

System software and application software are the two primary types of computer software. These contain programs that guide the operation of a machine to meet user information processing demands.

Operating System

The primary software element of a computer system is an operating system (OS). This program controls all resources and operations on the machine.

Modern operating systems maintain an inventory of all system resources, such as computer memory, file storage, input/output devices and network connections.

Additionally, it performs resource management tasks, such as scheduling program usage to prevent conflicts and interference between programs.

Some operating systems also provide a graphical user interface, making it simpler for people with disabilities to utilize their computers without writing code.

Application Programs

Application software is a type of computer program designed to facilitate specific tasks. These may include specialized applications like word processors and spreadsheets, as well as popular web browsers.

System software, on the other hand, is a layer of computer code that manages an operating system and its peripherals such as printers or storage devices. Application programs interface with this layer through an API to control input/output operations and other routine tasks within the system software.

Device Drivers

Device Drivers enable computers to communicate with external devices like printers, keyboards and hard drives without requiring application programs and operating systems to understand all of the specifics of how hardware functions.

Device drivers interface with hardware via a bus that links them to the CPU. They receive instructions from the operating system and execute them after receiving them, before providing output or status messages back to both OS and applications.

Secondary Storage

Computers utilize a range of storage devices to store information. These can include hard drives, optical disks, USB memory sticks and flash drives.

Secondary storage is nonvolatile, meaning it retains data even when turned off. This makes it ideal for temporarily storing less-used data when primary storage is full or for long-term archiving of critical business files.

In addition to storing data, secondary storage can also be employed for backup and recovery purposes. This helps minimize the time it takes to restore data and enhances the overall backup process.


Networking is the process of sending data between computers over a shared medium such as the internet or local area network (LAN). This function is essential for many purposes, from communication to sharing resources and offering services.

Computer networks consist of hardware components like routers, switches and servers as well as software to enable them to function together efficiently. This may include specialized applications like network configuration management or privileged access control software.

Graphical User Interface

The Graphical User Interface (GUI) is a form of communication that allows users to manipulate electronic devices with visual icons. This type of user-interface has revolutionized computers, making them more intuitive and user-friendly.

GUIs have become ubiquitous in software applications designed for end users, enabling computer users to complete tasks quickly and effortlessly without needing to know a programming language or learn complex computer commands.

Server Software

On a server, the primary software components that run are an operating system and server application. These programs enable computers to communicate with each other over the network and provide services for them.

The software can reside on either a physical server or virtual machine.

ShareFileNet allows users to conveniently share files, printers and other resources over a network. Furthermore, it helps organize data and keep it safe from malicious hackers.

Networking Software

Networking software enables administrators to plan, design, deploy, monitor and secure networks. These software-defined networks enable organizations to deliver mission critical applications more effectively while improving agility and reducing IT workloads.

SDN strives to achieve Intent-Based Networking (IBN), creating controller-led networks that capture business intent and turn it into automated policies that are applied consistently.

This is accomplished through northbound APIs that communicate with the control layer. The controller determines how resources should be allocated to applications based on their availability and latency requirements.