Software is an ordered set of information and instructions that tell an electronic machine how to do something. Generally this is opposed to physical hardware, whereby the machine actually does the work and physically installs the program. There are many forms of software programs that people use in their day-to-day lives. It is used to keep track of what is going on in one’s home, business or even in the environment. In other words, software tells an engineer how a particular car should be driven, or how a particular piece of equipment should be assembled.
Software engineers also develop applications, or software systems, which help end users to operate the computer hardware or software. The applications developed by these engineers are then run by the end users through their computer systems. The end users are referred to as users. These software engineer jobs are unique in the sense that they are directly involved with the designing, developing and testing of an application. This means that a software engineer may have to collaborate with program architects, business managers, marketing people, technical people, networking experts and other IT specialists in order to produce an end-user product.
The term ‘software engineering’ refers to a set of special computer program and hardware processes. A software engineer can specialize in one of several fields. One such field of expertise is systems software. Systems software involves the design and implementation of computer hardware and computer programs that interact with each other and with an operating system to give users the ability to execute programs and perform functions.
Another specialty area is software development. This is very much related to systems software engineering, but it is broader in scope. Software development deals more with specific applications. Systems, software developers are responsible for creating and maintaining the applications used by end-users. Some of the specialized software engineering skills that software developers have included systems, embedded, multimedia and user agent software engineering.
Examples include electrical and computer software used to develop computer systems. Examples include medical software used to develop software used in hospitals. Some examples include aerospace software used to create flight simulator controls for pilots and navigation system software used in the military. Examples include transportation software used to create automobile related software and accounting software used to create financial software used by businesses. Another example includes environmental software used to analyze and monitor information such as pollution readings, hazardous waste and energy use in businesses and government agencies. In all these cases, the software engineers must work closely with computer systems specialists who write the software, test it and maintain it.
Operating system software refers to the computer hardware that comes preinstalled with a computer program. The operating system software is usually supplied with a basic personal computer, a standard laptop or desktop, or a network desktop. For example, Windows comes preinstalled on all Windows computers. Most networks offer their users a choice of free, commercial or professional operating systems. The operating system serves a number of purposes. It allows programs to be started at boot time, load programs into memory when activated, provides a stable medium for software to communicate with data, maintains a database of user preferences, controls the start up of the machine, provides security services such as encryption, authentication, and virus protection.