Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Difference Between Software and Application

Software vs Application

Software is an all-encompassing term that is used in contrast to hardware, which are the tangible components of a computer. So everything else in your computer that is not hardware is software. An application is basically a type of software. So the difference between software and application is very much like the difference between a rectangle (software) and a square (application); all applications are software, but not all software are applications.

A main point that makes a software an application is that it’s executable. The main goal of an application is to perform a specific task or range of tasks. It is therefore important that it is able to execute and perform its instructions in order to achieve this. If a piece of software is not executable, then it cannot be considered as an application. Device drivers, manuals, images, and documents are only a few of the software that are not applications.

Also a side effect of the previous statement is the fact that applications are limited to certain operating systems. A Windows application can’t execute in a Mac or Linux platform and is therefore not considered as applications in the aforementioned operating systems. Although software may or may not be recognized on different platforms, it does not change the fact that it is still considered as software.

Being executable is not exclusive to applications though as some executables are not considered as applications. An example of this would be software that is a part of the operating system. This is very apparent in the antiquated DOS OS. A DOS installation contains multiple executable that are necessary for it to function properly. These are not considered as applications.

Lastyl, in order for an application to be useful, it needs user interaction. Even antivirus and other type of security software which try to be as unobtrusive as possible require some user interaction from time to time. In contrast, majority of computer users are unaware about the BIOS software and device drivers despite their importance in the functionality of a computer.


1. Software is an all-encompassing term for computer data while an application is a type of software that does a certain task

2. Applications are executable while software may or may not be executable

3. Applications are often operating system specific while software are not necessarily so

4. Applications usually need user interaction to function while software does not necessarily have to

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  1. Do not agree that images and documents are software.

  2. I’d say, application is something closer to the human being (more tangible to the user, if you prefer).

    Think of Application Software vs. System Software, and the above statement becomes clear.

    In fact, the article should rather have been,
    Difference between Application Software and System Software

  3. Please check the excellent article pointing out the main differences between App and traditional Software : http://extreme-sharepoint.com/2012/10/14/what-are-apps/

    • The website is mistake. It states that MS Office and Photoshop are not application software, but traditional software. However, this isn’t true these are both types of desktop applications, which are application software. Re-check it before you use that differentiation.

  4. The website is mistake because all install applications or application software is know as application…and all pre install applications is know as software……!!!

  5. I think there r some mistake.

  6. Pictures and documents can be considered ‘software’ because they are all built from binary codes, and they are called “soft-copy”. But once they are printed, they are called “hard-copy”.

  7. Hello,
    If you are saying as “An application is basically a type of software. I am confused and I ask a question if I have an app Name of the app is schoola2z being used for school management, parent teacher & students’ communication. And this a big platform for communication between parent teacher & student and used by all education institutes as school, college, university and education center. Now my question is what i used Name as “schoola2z software” “schoola2z app” “schoola2z application software” and “schoola2z application”

    Please tell me which name I can used and which cannot used. and what i can used terms “software” for my schoola2z.

  8. I’m highly being helped by checking out this whole content and which cleared my all sort of doubts regarding this aforementioned topic.
    Thanks for this content, I highly appreciate fot posting this content on the web, with so understandable formated words by which even a novice can understand after reading one time.

  9. Good

  10. All application are software but all software are not application

  11. Very good article for non technical person to understand basic difference.

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