Fundamentals of Computer Systems: Application software

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UNIT 2 - ⇑ Fundamentals of Computer Systems ⇑

← System software Application software Generations of programming language →

General purpose application software[edit]

General purpose application software is a type of software that can be used for a variety of tasks. It is not limited to one particular function. For example a word processor could be classed as general purpose software as it would allow a user to write a novel, create a restaurant menu or even make a poster.

Impress presentation software in LibreOffice 3.3.0

Examples of General purpose application software include: Word processors, Spreadsheet and Presentation software. Whatever you do, do not use brand names!

Special purpose application software[edit]

Special purpose application software is a type of software created to execute one specific task. For example a camera application on your phone will only allow you to take and share pictures. Another example would be a chess game, it would only allow you to play chess.

Chromium web browser

Other examples of special purpose application software are web browsers, calculators, media players, calendar programs etc. Again, make sure that you don't use brand names!

Bespoke application software[edit]

Bespoke application software is tailor made for a specific user and purpose. For example a factory may require software to run a robot to make cars, however, it is the only factory making that car in the world, so the software required would have to be specially built for the task.

Other examples might include software for the military, missile/UAV operations, software for hospitals and medical equipment, software being written inside banks and other financial institutions.

There are several things to consider before purchasing bespoke software, on the plus side:

plus pointSoftware is built for and will meet your precise needs


However, you must also consider

minus point Software will be expensive as you have to cover all of the production costs
minus point It may take some time to develop the software, when special purpose software could be brought straight away
minus point The software is more likely to be buggy as it probably won't have thousands of clients using and testing it


Exercise: Application Software

List and describe the three types of application software:

Answer :

  • General purpose software - software that can be used for multiple purposes
  • Special purpose software - software built for a specific purpose
  • Bespoke application software - software built for a specific user and purpose

Give an example of each:

Answer :

(Don't let the examiner catch you using product names!)

  • General purpose software - word processor / presentation software / spreadsheet
  • Special purpose software - Web browser / media players / calender programs
  • Bespoke application software - car robot control software / military control software

Why might you choose to use general purpose software instead of bespoke software, why might it not be suitable?

Answer :

general purpose software is:

  • cheaper than bespoke
  • readily available, whilst bespoke may take some time to write
  • able to perform multiple tasks
  • probably less buggy

However,

  • it might not perform all the tasks needed by the user