Software is simply a series of data and instructions which tell a computer how to operate. This is very different from hardware, where the machine actually does all the work and is usually much more complex. In software and computer engineering, software is data processed by various computer systems, such as applications and files.
There are two main areas of the software industry: Application and User Interface. The application software provides the functionality to an external device or program such as a computer. A typical user interface provides a graphical user interface, telling the user what they want their computer to do. These two parts of the software industry are what make up the “software-hardware” hybrid.
The application part of software engineering deals with providing software to carry out specific tasks or operations. The most well known examples of this are Windows, Office, and Java. User interface technology deals with designing the way that your computer displays the information you give it. Software architecture is the process of laying out the structure of a specific system software package, following the design specifications defined by the user interface and application programming interfaces.
Software development is the part of software engineering which deals with the creation of software products. This can be done in many different forms. One type is what is commonly called “open source” software development. This approach allows the developers to make changes to the software product as they see fit. This is an open source approach which has lead to some of the greatest software innovations of the past few decades.
System software and application software products are what make up the computer software industry. System software provides the functionality needed by an operating system to allow it to communicate with devices such as printers and scanners. Examples of such components would include operating systems, memory management, device drivers, security measures, and so forth. Examples of application software would include applications such as email, word processing, web browser, and so on.