What is a computer program? Types of computer programs

We explain what a computer program is, what types exist and multiple examples. Also, what are program licenses?

What is a computer program?

A computer program is a complex sequence of digital instructions designed for reproduction in the central processor of a computer , in such a way as to offer the user some type of result or interactive environment. Programs are part of the system software and owe their name to the fact that they have been programmed, that is, written in a programming language , usually by a software engineer.

Computer programs are essential to operate in a computer system, either because they allow system resources to be managed or because these resources are available to offer the user some type of response or interaction. In this sense, some programs are fixed and permanent in the system, while others can be downloaded and installed, that is, they are accessories.

The complex series of commands that make up a computer program can be interpreted by the human being as a source code: a set of instructions expressed in a formal language and that make up an executable image, that is, a file that acts as a starting point for the rest of the program, and that is read and started by a compiler , that is, another program capable of interpreting and executing the instructions of the source code.

Types of computer programs

In general, computer programs are classified into two types: system software and application software .

System software is the set of programs pre-installed in the computer system and necessary to manage its resources , that is, they are fundamental computer programs that manage the relationship with the hardware and with the user, thus allowing system stability and subsequent execution. of the application software . Examples of system software are: operating systems , peripheral drivers, among others .

The application software is the set of optional or secondary programs that are introduced to the system to carry out certain functions , and that generally require the participation of the user. It is also referred to, generically, as “ applications ”. In addition, it is impossible to use this type of program without first having a working system software . These programs can be very diverse, and in turn can be classified as:

  • Entertainment programs, designed for leisure, such as video games, programs to watch series and movies, comic book readers, and other similar programs.
  • Telecommunications programs , which allow the user to establish communication with other users of a network , such as video call or video conference programs, instant messaging programs, among others.
  • Internet browsing programs , which allow the user to access the World Wide Web and view and download information .
  • Office programs, designed for work, such as word processors , spreadsheets , accounting programs, slideshow programs, among others.
  • Editing programs, which allow the user to create and modify multimedia pieces, such as visual, audio, or video editors.
  • Peripheral management programs , which allow the user to manage removable devices through the system and transfer files to and from the computer, such as mp3 music managers, image gallery programs, and the like.
  • Programming programs , better known as programming languages, which are used to design other application programs.

Computer Software Licensing

Most computer programs are protected by copyright , since their source code can be considered an original piece of computer writing. In this sense, they are marketed to the general public together with a use license, that is, a legal permit for their use , which often establishes a certain maximum period. At the end of this period, the user may renew their license and continue enjoying the program, or look for a replacement. In other cases, the license does not expire, but prevents or limits the free copying and reproduction of the software .

There is also the so-called free software , that is, without licenses or with much more benevolent and generous licenses, which allow the copying and reproduction of the program, or even the modification of its source code , as long as this is done under certain criteria and without profit. There are different ways in which this free software is handled, but in general it seeks to establish itself as an alternative to the commercial sales software of large corporations ( copyleft ).

Examples of Computer Programs

Some examples of computer programs are:

  • The programs that make up the MicrosoftOffice work package : Microsoft Word (word processor), Microsoft Excel (spreadsheet), Microsoft Access (database management), Microsoft Powerpoint (presentation design).
  • Free software operating systems such as Unix, Linux, Ubuntu, FreeDOS, among others.
  • The Macintosh manager of digital music and playback devices, called iTunes.
  • Video games for PC like Elden Ring(Bandai Namco), StarCraft (Blizzard), Mass Effect (Electronic Arts), among others.
  • Instant messaging programs like MSN Messenger, Facebook Messenger or Whatsapp Messenger.
  • Social networking applications for smartphones , such as Instagram, Twitter, Facebook or TikTok .
  • Web browsers such as Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Safari, Opera, Mozilla, among others.
  • Design programs from the Adobe company, such as Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Flash, Adobe Acrobat Reader, among others.

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