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Different Types of PC Software

The operating system isn’t the only software you use on your computer. If you’re a typical computer user, you’ll most likely obtain all kinds of computer software — software to help customize your computer and get it to do those things you want it to do. Software falls into several categories:

  • Applications: This category of software is used for productivity or to create things. Applications are the software that does the work.

  • Programs: Anything that’s a “computer program” is also software, but this category includes software that may or may not be used for productivity or to produce output, such as a computer game (like the one in this figure) or a video editing program.

    This video game image is part of a computer program
    This video game image is part of a computer program
  • Utilities or tools: These programs are designed to help you manage the computer or diagnose or fix problems. For example, you may use a tool to optimize the performance of your computer’s disk drives.

  • Drivers: A special type of program that allows specific hardware to work. For example, a video driver program is required for the operating system to use your PC's specific graphics hardware. This type of software comes with the hardware it supports.

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