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.

A program is merely a set of instructions written in any programming language such as C, C++, Java, etc. to perform a specific task whereas 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 whereas software is packaged and sold as a “product” along with the necessary documentation, user manual, or licensing information, etc.

Most of the time 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 two main categories: 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, or playing games, etc.

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 Calculator Application that can be used to perform mathematical operations like addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, etc. Here, addition is an example of a simple program that contains instructions written in some a 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 it in the comment section below.

Last modified: May 22, 2020

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