Application software or application or application (abbreviated, app), is software designed through a programming language to perform a group of coordinated functions, tasks or activities for the benefit of the user. Examples of an application include a word processor, a spreadsheet, an accounting application, a web browser, an email client, a media player, a file viewer, an aeronautical flight simulator, a game console. or a photo editor. The collective noun software application refers to all applications collectively. This is in contrast to system software, which is primarily involved in running the computer.

Apps on a tablet

Applications can be packaged with the computer and its system software or published separately, and can be coded as proprietary, open source, or university projects. Applications created for mobile platforms are called mobile applications.


Computer programs can be divided into two general classes: system software and application software.

System software are low-level computer programs that interact with the computer at a very basic level. Examples include the Operating System, the firmware (an example of firmware is the computer’s BIOS), device drivers and the graphical interface that allows the user to interact with the computer.

Application software (commonly referred to as just software) is software that allows the user to perform a specific task. We can cite several examples such as Microsoft Office, Adobe Photoshop, browsers (Edge, Chrome, FireFox, Safari), etc.


Software applications are divided into two categories: horizontal applications and vertical applications. Horizontal applications are most popular in departments and companies. Vertical applications are products that serve a specific niche, for a specific type of business or division of a company.

There are several types of application software:

  • Office package: consists of multiple applications joined together, usually with complementary functions, the same interface and which may or may not interact with each other. Examples are Microsoft Office, and iWork which combine word processors, spreadsheets, presentation and so on. There are also Suites with other purposes such as Adobe Creative Suite.
  • End-user developed applications: these are applications written by the user himself to adapt a system to his needs. They usually include word processors, scientific simulators, animation and graphics scripts. An example of an application developed by an end user is e-mail filters.
  • Business Logician: It is specifically made to meet the process and data flow needs of a company, usually large and with data sharing needs such as financial department systems, customer management systems, corporate travel management systems and support request systems (help-desk request).
  • Business Infrastructure Logician: Business operating systems such as gmail, hotmail, email servers, yahoo mail, systems for network and security management, automatic back-up systems, etc.
  • Professional Information Logicians: Logicians that serve the needs of individuals to create and manage information, often for individual projects within a department, in contrast to business management. Examples include time management, resource management, documentation, analytical and collaborative tools. Word processors, spreadsheets, email, Outlook and blog clients, personal information systems, individual and media editors can help with multi-information work tasks.
  • Simulation Logician: These are software that simulate other systems for research, training and even entertainment purposes.
  • Multimedia development software: These are software specially made to meet the needs of users who create multimedia or printed content for commercial or educational purposes. As HTML editors, digital animation, audio and video creator software and many others.
  • Mobile applications: These are software that run on mobile devices such as cell phones, tablets, multimedia players, book readers, etc.
  • Logician command interpreter: It is a software and commands have to be typed in order for some action to be taken. Examples are DOS and UNIX.
  • User Interface Logician: It is a software in which commands are triggered by menus, buttons and icons using the mouse. Microsoft Windows, Mac OS and Ubuntu (Linux) are common examples of operating systems that use one or more user interfaces.
  • Server-side application: It is a third-party software that a user decides to install on their social network account, for example a Facebook game like The Sims Social.
  • Content access programs: These are programs used exclusively to access content without editing and may or may not include second software that allows content editing. They meet the needs of users who need to access public digital content. We have as an example media players and internet browsers.
  • Educational Logicians: These are logicians related to content access adapted for students and educators. They can range from educational games with the aim of educating and teaching to editions of applications with optimized solutions for studying.
  • Information Sharing Logician: Commonly used by large and medium-sized companies with the need to create, manage and share information, usually between individuals allocated in the same department or project.

Free Software, Proprietary Software and Commercial Software

Proprietary Software is software that is licensed with exclusive rights to the producer. To use or make any changes to the program (when possible) it is necessary to purchase a license. Some of the most well-known proprietary software are Microsoft Windows, Microsoft Office, Adobe Photoshop, Mac OS, WinZip, some versions of UNIX, among others.

Free Software, as defined by the Free Software Foundation, is any program that can be used, copied, studied and redistributed without restrictions. Free Software respects the rights of users allowing them to share with others what they have learned, as far as profit is concerned, they do not oppose software sold aiming at profit (commercial software) as long as they respect the copyleft.

Commercial software is software created with the aim of generating profit for the company that created it either by selling licenses or by using advertisements in the program. A popular commercial software is Windows Live Messenger (formerly MSN Messenger). The program is considered commercial software because although it is owned by Microsoft and therefore closed source, it generates profit for the company through the various advertisements present in the program.

Licenses and types of software distribution

  • Freeware: Freeware is free software, usually for individuals, with a paid version for corporate use. Usually advertisements or sponsors keep the project alive.
  • Shareware: These are software that only work for a certain period of time (called the evaluation period) and then the user must decide whether or not to purchase the product.
  • Demo and Trial: Demo versions and trials are limited versions. Demo versions are game related and are usually incomplete, shorter versions of the game for the player to see if they like the game, its universe and gameplay. Trial versions work almost the same way, the programs work but not in a complete way, usually not saving or exporting the work done in full, to use its full potential the user must buy the complete software or just its license.
  • Beta: Versions still in development or under constant development (such as Tele2 webmail, Gmail and other Google applications). After the beta version an RC (Release Candidate) version is released which is the last version before the official release of the software.
  • Adware: These are programs that come bundled with other programs, such as banners and search bars. Adware can be a limitation of a shareware program, displaying advertisements and other types of advertisements to support the project. The banner is removed after the license is purchased
  • Opensource, GPL, CC and GNU: It is a free, open source distribution and available for free download. The user has complete freedom to make their own changes and later developers will be able to use this code in the project following the same GPL (GNU Public License) standard, which is the Open-source standard format. cc stands for Creative Commons, a license that you can use for free, but under the license conditions.
  • Malware: From English, Malicious Software. The term is used to designate programs that aim to invade and damage systems such as viruses and trojans.
  • Spyware: Software that aims to monitor user activities and collect user information.
  • There are also numerous types of distribution such as Bookware, which consists of buying a certain book from the author so that the software becomes legitimate. Some developers, to expand their personal collections or hobbies, have developed Postcardware and Stampware in which the user sends a letter or postcard and the developer sends the user a license or registers their software remotely.


  • Web browser: used to access the internet and its content. They used to work only as a media viewer but now they can be used for games, text editing and other cloud services. The most famous are Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, Mozilla’s Firefox and Google’s Chrome.
  • E-mail: e-mail management and reading applications. There are paid solutions like Microsoft Outlook and free solutions like Mozilla Thunderbird. There are also solutions like Mail on the Macintosh that come as part of the system.
  • Chat or chat: Chat software is software for exchanging messages between users who may or may not be online at the same time. In the past, these software needed to be installed on the client machine (like iChat and the old MSN Messenger, from Apple and Microsoft respectively) or just on a server (like UOL chat) but the evolution of the internet and the cloud service broke this barrier and solutions such as Windows Live Messenger work on both the client and the server and offer integrated services such as integration with Facebook. Nowadays chat solutions can be easily found on forum sites or any other that contains a database of users.
  • Applications for development: Applications for development are applications that recognize one or more programming languages ​​and provide assistance and a solid platform for developers to do their work. Examples include free solutions like Dreamweaver and proprietary solutions like Adobe’s Dreamweaver. Applications for development can recognize and compile several programming languages ​​or just a specific one or a specific category.
  • Applications for telephony and videoconferencing: telephony applications are solutions that use internet technology to make voice calls between two computers (or two different IPs). With the evolution of technology we have these solutions also present on other platforms such as Smartphones and tablets. An example of this is Apple’s Facetime which allows video conferencing between iPhones, iPods, Macbooks and iPads. And versions of Skype for mobile allowing VOip calls on Smartphones and breaking down barriers between mobile and computer.
  • Solid/Works CAD/CAM applications, AutoCAD: Used predominantly in business and industrial environments.

Tips & Tricks

Whatever you do, don’t forget to backup your documents, photo’s and videos. There are a number of free options to back up your work for free or for a small fee. Example: dropbox.