What Is PC Software?

Software is the collection of computer programs that enable hardware devices to perform a task. It is divided into system and application software.

System software, also known as platform software, includes device drivers and an operating system. It provides an environment that all other computer programs work in.

It converts human-readable instructions into a pattern that the CPU can understand. It then controls the allocation of resources to application programs.

Operating System

An operating system is software that manages the hardware environment and provides a common platform for computer programs. It is the first program that loads when the computer starts and resides in memory at all times. Its principal component is the kernel, which sets basic standards for application programs.

Other operating system functions include job accounting and performance control (which includes the production of dumps, traces, error messages and other debugging and error-detecting aids). It also coordinates hardware components and directs various software applications.

Some firms, like Apple and Nintendo, develop their own proprietary OSes for their hardware. Others, such as Microsoft and the firm that makes the ATM beeps, sell their operating systems to everyone from Dell to fighter jet manufacturers. Most modern operating systems come with virtualization support, allowing multiple operating environments to run on the same physical machine.


Browsers are a type of computer software that lets users access and view web pages. Popular browsers include Microsoft Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Apple Safari.

Browsers interpret and display HTML and XML documents, which are coded to create the visual layout of a webpage. Browsers also enable users to browse and view images, audio, and video files.

Many browsers let users add features, called extensions, to customize their experience. Some extensions perform helpful tasks like filling out forms automatically, checking grammar and spelling, muting sounds, or offering foreign language translations. Other extensions offer more fun and practical features, such as enabling different visual appearances or themes for the browser window.


The antivirus is software that detects and removes viruses from your computer. It uses a database of known virus signatures to identify malware and alert you to possible threats. Many major web browsers and email services also have built-in protections against malware, including blocking phishing sites and warning of downloads that are not from trusted sources.

Antivirus programs also include features that protect against spyware, which spies on your online activity without your knowledge and collects personal information, such as MasterCard details and passwords. Signs that you have spyware can include a sudden flurry of ads, being taken to websites you didn’t visit and generally slowed performance.

A popular form of malware, ransomware, encrypts files and will only unlock them when you pay a fee – the Brain and PC Cyborg viruses were early examples.


Anti-malware software targets a broader range of malicious software than antivirus programs such as spyware (which monitors user activity to steal data, capture screenshots or perform other functions without the victim’s knowledge), adware, scareware and botnets (networks of infected computers that work together under an attacker’s control). It also targets malware tricks like spamming users with ads or hijacking browser search results.

The best anti-malware solutions rely on multiple protection mechanisms including signature-based detection and heuristic analysis to identify patterns associated with malware, updating their threat databases frequently. They should be fast, reliable and have a minimal impact on device or network performance.

OIT recommends installing Crowdstrike’s anti-malware platform on Brown-owned PCs and Macintosh devices. OIT can install it automatically for personally-owned or non-Brown devices upon request.


Backup software takes a snapshot of your computer system and files at a specific point in time, allowing you to restore it later. Some offer options for restoring individual files and application programs that have been changed or modified since the snapshot was taken.

Many provide cloning and file sync features. Optical support is essential for backups to DVD and Blu-Ray (and some programs support online storage). Some allow you to schedule backups and retain multiple versions of files.

Integrated solutions for backup and cybersecurity help you recover from data loss caused by cyberattacks, natural disasters, hardware/software failure or human error. They also help you secure your data with advanced encryption and other features. For small businesses, the best options enable local and cloud backup to safeguard desktops, laptops, servers and endpoints.