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The Main Differences in Software vs Program in 2024

Written By Sidrah Nizami – Last Modified On April 19, 2024


In the current world, technology plays an essential role in our lives. Almost all our work is done through technology. Lots of data is saved and shared through computer softwares and programs.

Even if it is a computer, a mobile phone, or a laptop, technology cannot work without commands. Their commands are built-in in the program, software, and hardware. These are really essential for any technology to work as they help to decode the required commands.

In this article, we will be discussing the difference between a computer program and computer software. This article is not just limited to the comparison of software vs program as we will also be discussing both these terms separately as well.

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So without delaying it anymore, let’s see what these terms actually are.

What is Computer Software?

A computer software which is commonly known as software, is a collection of commands, used by programs to run computers and perform a particular task. It involves all the programs on the computer including operating systems. 

Softwares are usually developed by developers who are experts in their field and have enough experience. They should always be trained in developing software and are mostly known as software developers.

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Types of Computer Softwares

Softwares are further divided into three major kinds which are named as: Programming software, application software, and system software. They are defined down below.

1- Programming Software

A programming software assists in writing programs with the help of tools such as compilers, debuggers, and linkers. This is actually a collection of tools that help developers in writing a program. The different tools found on this software include linkers, compilers, interpreters, debuggers, and text editors. This software intends to execute some tasks. Examples of an programming software are:

  • Office Suites,
  • Educational Softwares,
  • Database Systems ,
  • Gaming Applications.

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2- Application Software

An application software is used for achieving some tasks. It is also known as an end-user program or only an application. An application software which can deal with user inputs and help them complete a task. It has been programmed for any task including easy and hard ones. It can either be used online or installed on your device. 

Examples of an Application software include:

  • Word processing software
  • Presentation e.g Text editor
  • CAD/CAM,
  • Graphics,
  • Spreadsheets software,
  • Sending email etc.

3- System Software

A system software is a kind of computer program that gives a platform to make the hardware and applications of a computer work to use the system resources and solve the issues of computation. The system software is installed directly on your computer when you install the operating system. It is written by developers in a low-level language such as assembly language to interact with the hardware conveniently at a basic level. 

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System software acts as a base for application software. A system software is written in the C programming language. The programs that a system software includes are compilers, system utilities, assemblers, debuggers, and file management tools. Examples of system software are:

  • Operating systems like Microsoft Windows, game engines, Ubuntu, industrial automation, and macOS.
  • Device drivers,
  • Disk Formatters,
  • Windows/graphical user interface (GUI) systems,
  • System servers,
  • Text Editors.

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What Is a Computer Program?

A computer program is a set of commands that perform a particular task when a customer performs it. Devices need computer programs to work properly. It is mostly written by a programmer in a language. Once they are done writing it, A compiler is used by the programmer to turn them into a computer language.

A program is actually present as a file on your computer’s hard drive. Now when a user runs a computer program, the computer first reads the file, and then the processor on the computer reads the data present in a file as commands. The computer then has to do what it has been told by the program. A program is usually developed by a developer who is a beginner in this field and doesn’t have any prior experience.

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Types of Computer Programs

There are three main types of computer programs. They are as follows:

1- Application Program

These programs are needed for the usage of Applications like Excel, Photoshop, Word, Tally, etc. Hence it helps the user run the required application.

2- Utility Program

These programs are not that important but the computer uses them to protect the system and improve the performance of a computer. Anti-virus, Scandisk, and Disk defragmenter, are the programs that belong to this category. 

3- System Program

They are needed for running systems such as Device drivers, Operating Systems, etc. These programs make a computer ready to be used and they are the most essential programs. Hence, this is how this program helps a computer.

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Comparison Between a Software and a Program

Software is a broad term that contains the programs and other components that are required to run. The software contains the files as well, whereas a program can be a file itself. There are a lot of other differences in these terms including the ones we just mentioned.

Let’s see the comparison table of a software vs program. Here, we are showing the difference between a software and a program in a tabular form on the basis of some features.


  • A computer software is a collection of programs, processes, and documentation
  • A software is categorised into three main types including programming software, application software, and system software.
  • You can turn software into a program.
  • A software contains bundles of data files and programs. Programs in a particular software use the files to execute a specific task.
  • Each software comes with its own UI. The UI of a software is found as a graphic or in a command prompt.
  • A software can be developed by one developer or a team of them.
  • A complete software is compiled, tested, and debugged throughout the process of development.
  • A software contains various features and functions including GUI, input data and output data, process, etc.
  • The working of a software depends on its operating system.
  • A software always needs more time to be built as compared to a program.
  • The approach of software development is systematic, planned, and totally organised.
  • A software’s size varies from Mb (Megabytes) to Gb (Gigabytes).
  • A program has a lack of documentation. 
  • Examples of software are MS Excel, MS Word, Mozilla Firefox, Windows, Adobe Reader, VLC Media Player, Linux, Mac, Unix, etc.

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  • A program is a collection of commands written in a language of programming used by a computer to run a particular task or function.
  • A program has three main types namely: Application Program, Utility Program, and System Program
  • You can not turn a program into a software.
  • A program contains a collection of commands coded by the programmers in languages such as C++, Java, PHP, etc.
  • Programs don’t contain a UI.
  • A program can be developed and used by one developer or a team of them.
  • A program is compiled whenever we have to get some output from a program.
  • The functions of a program are limited and it doesn’t have a lot of features as well.
  • The functionality of a program depends on the one who compiles it.
  • A program needs less time to be built as compared to software.
  • The approach of program development doesn’t have any procedure, organisation, or planning.
  • A program’s size varies from Kb (Kilobytes) to Mb (Megabytes).
  • A software is always properly documented.
  • A few examples of computer programs are: Video games, Operating system, Malware, Office suite, and a web browser such as Google Chrome, Apple Safari, and Mozilla Firefox.

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Charles Babbage is known as the father of computers as he designed the first-ever computer. Since then, there has been a huge change in technology. The computers are getting smaller and smaller with the passing of years, but the programs and features have been increasing with time. Technology has made our lives really easy and better than it was before. You can now find everything just one click away.

Programs, hardware, and software are all equally essential for any task to perform. Even if one thing is not coded correctly, the task won’t be performed.

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In the future, we’ll be experiencing many more advancements in current technology, and many more software programs will be needed to execute them.

That is all about this article. We hope it was informative and knowledgeable for you and that you gained proper information about computer software, a computer program, and the comparison between these terms.


How is an application program different from a system program?

An application program provides software that is directly used by a user, while a system program provides software that is used by other systems like computational science applications and SaaS applications etc.

How is an application software different from a system software?

An application software helps in executing some particular work for which it has been created while a system software has been made to manage the resources of the system. It works as a platform to run an application software.

‍What are the main examples of a software and a program?

Examples of a Software:
1) Web browsers.
2) Word processors.
3) Multimedia software.
4) Spreadsheet software.
5) Email clients.
6) Graphics software.
Examples of a Program:
1) Google Chrome
2) Skype
3) Word
4) Excel
5) Powerpoint
6) Adobe Photoshop

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