What is the difference between a Software and a Program?

You are not alone if you get confused with the terms – software and programs and don’t know if they are the same thing or not. Not-so-tech-savvy people often consider software and program as synonymous terms that can be used interchangeably. But software and program aren’t the same things when you view these two at the technical level.

If you wonder what’s the difference between these two?

Let me explain it to you.

Difference between a Software and a Program

A program is merely a set of instructions written in any programming language, such as C, C++, Java, etc., to perform a specific task. In contrast, the software is a collection of more than one program and, optionally, some data files too.

Software is more like a bigger picture of a few programs working together and performing some specific operation. Usually, the program doesn’t need any documentation due to its small size and limited scope of functionality, whereas software does require some documentation to assist the users and developers.

Due to its limited scope and size, programs are usually sold separately. In contrast, the software is packaged and sold as a “product” along with the necessary documentation, user manual, or licensing information, etc.

A structured approach, also known as software development life cycle (SDLC), is adopted to develop software. And often, it involves more than one person in the development phase. There is no need to follow SDLC to create programs due to its simple nature & small size.

The software can be further divided into application software and System software, whereas a program can’t have such classification. Application software help users to do almost all kinds of tasks such as writing reports, storing data, editing photos, making a to-do list, playing games, etc.

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Application software or Apps can be further classified as desktop or web-based applications. System software enables users to manage or control hardware and run application software. A common example of system software is an operating system that runs on computers or other tech devices such as mobile phones, smart TVs, etc.

A real-time example of software is the Calculator Application that can perform mathematical operations like addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, etc. Here, addition is an example of a simple program that contains instructions written in some programming language to add two or more numbers.

I hope this has solved your confusion regarding the difference between software and the program. But if you still have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comment section below.