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12.3.6: Summary

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    Software gives the instructions that tell the hardware what to do. There are two basic categories of software: operating systems and applications. Operating systems provide access to the computer hardware and make system resources available. Application software is designed to meet a specific goal. Productivity software is a subset of application software that provides basic business functionality to a personal computer: word processing, spreadsheets, and presentations. An ERP system is a software application with a centralized database that is implemented across the entire organization. Cloud computing is a method of software delivery that runs on any computer that has a web browser and access to the Internet. Software is developed through a process called programming, in which a programmer uses a programming language to put together the logic needed to create the program. While most software is developed using a closed-source model, the open-source movement is gaining more support today.

    Study Questions

    1. Come up with your own definition of software. Explain the key terms in your definition.
    2. What are the functions of the operating system?
    3. Which of the following are operating systems and which are applications: Microsoft Excel, Google Chrome, iTunes, Windows, Android, Angry Birds.
    4. What is your favorite software application? What tasks does it help you accomplish?
    5. What is a “killer” app? What was the killer app for the PC?
    6. How would you categorize the software that runs on mobile devices? Break down these apps into at least three basic categories and give an example of each.
    7. Explain what an ERP system does.
    8. What is open-source software? How does it differ from closed-source software? Give an example of each.
    9. What does a software license grant?
    10. How did the Y2K (year 2000) problem affect the sales of ERP systems?


    1. Go online and find a case study about the implementation of an ERP system. Was it successful? How long did it take? Does the case study tell you how much money the organization spent?
    2. What ERP system does your university or place of employment use? Find out which one they use and see how it compares to other ERP systems.
    3. If you were running a small business with limited funds for information technology, would you consider using cloud computing? Find some web-based resources that support your decision.
    4. Download and install Open Office. Use it to create a document or spreadsheet. How does it compare to Microsoft Office? Does the fact that you got it for free make it feel less valuable?
    5. Go to and review their most downloaded software applications. Report back on the variety of applications you find. Then pick one that interests you and report back on what it does, the kind of technical support offered, and the user reviews.
    6. Review this article on the security risks of open-source software. Write a short analysis giving your opinion on the different risks discussed.
    7. What are three examples of programming languages? What makes each of these languages useful to programmers?

    1. From Why are your PowerPoints so bad? available for download at
    3. Taken from IDC Worldwide Mobile Phone Tracker, February 14, 2013. Full report available at

    12.3.6: Summary is shared under a CC BY-SA license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by David T. Bourgeois (Saylor Foundation) .

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