These are programs designed to solve specific problems of the user. Application software is designed to perform the practical problems experienced in life.

Application software includes most of the types of programs we use every day to get our computerized work done.

Application programs are widely used in our society for entering and editing text (word processing), for entering and manipulating numerical data (spread sheets and other business programs), and for record keeping (database management programs). These types of programs are sometimes referred to as general purpose applications.


Classification of computer application software


  • Off-shelf and Bespoke (custom-made) software
  • Tailor made application software.
  • Shareware
  • freeware
  • Open source software
  • public domain software
  • Web based software
  • copyrighted software
  • Special purpose and general purpose software



  1. Off-shelf application software

These are already made programs bought ‘off-the shelves’ from a software shop or vendor.

It can also be defined as software that is ready-made and available to lots of people. You usually pay a license fee to use it

Off- shelf application software can further be divided into Horizontal market applications (common applications you can find on every office computer) and vertical market applications also known as specialized application programs.

Horizontal market software

These are software tools that are useful to almost any one in any job. These are programs you can find on almost every computer in every office. They include;

  • Spreadsheets used for organization and analysis of data in tabular form.
  • Word-processors used to produce text documents that are professionally laid out.
  • Presentation software used for creating presentations to show to customers or staff
  • Databases used for keeping customer records, sales records, appointments system
  • Desktop publishing packages used for creating leaflets, posters, business cards
  • Graphics packages for manipulating images that can be used at home, school or a business
  • Web design application used for creating personal or business web sites
  • Communication software among others.


Vertical market (specialized applications)

It consists of programs developed for a specific industry. Examples include Computer Aided Designs (CAD), Bakery recipes, Bridge analysis, airline ticketing, airplane wing structure, robots swivel control, electronic testing etc.

Advantages Off-shelf application

  1. It is relatively cheap, especially when compared to custom written software
  2. It is easily available from most computer shops
  3. It will have been thoroughly tested so there won’t be any serious problems or bugs
  4. There will be lots of user support i.e. books, user guides, online help and discussion forums on the Internet
  5. Lower training costs.If it is a commonly used package, users and I.T. staff may already be familiar with it, saving on learning time and training costs. Or, there may be pre-existing training materials and courses that you can leverage.
  6. More functionality.Off-the-shelf software often has more functionality, because the developers try to meet the requirements of as many users as possible. (There may even be functionality you didn’t realize you need!)
  7. The vendor will continue to develop the software, so you will likely get upgrades for free or at a reduced cost, whereas in bespoke software you don’t get anything new unless you pay for it to be built.


Disadvantages off-shelf:


  1. You may have to compromise on your requirements – it is unlikely you will find ready-made software that does everything you need it to, exactly how you want it to.
  2. May be overly complicated. The software may include functionality that you don’t need, as it is trying to meet the different requirements of a number of users. This can make it more difficult to learn and use.
  3. You are not in control. The vendor’s plans for the future may not always fit with your own. As a single customer amongst many, you may not be able to get the features you want implemented.


  1. Bespoke (custom-made) software/Tailor made application software.

Bespoke software is written especially for you, to meet your specific business requirements.

If very specialized software is needed, a company may decide to write or order its own software.

This software is called custom software.

This software is developed by computer specialists or programmers. Examples may include; admission software at IUIU, loan portfolio software for Cairo bank, programming in D-base dealing in hotel operations etc.

Advantages of bespoke (custom-made) software

  1. Tailored to you. The software is developed and built to meet your specific requirements, ensuring that you get software that works exactly how you need it to and delivers the results you want.
  2. More flexible. A bespoke system can evolve over time to match your changing requirements.
  3. No per-user fees. If you own the software, you won’t have to extra per-user fees as your business grows.
  4. Not tied in. You own the intellectual property, so you are not tied to a specific vendor that could potentially disappear at any time.
  5. Competitive advantage. As your competitors won’t have the same software, it could give you a competitive edge. An effective software package can make a company work more efficiently, improve their performance and have a positive impact on customer satisfaction levels.

The disadvantages are:

  1. Higher initial costs. It will cost more at the beginning, as you have to pay the development costs.
  2. Takes longer.Depending on the size and complexity of the software, it may take months or even years to develop.

Copyrighted software

This refers to the computer programs with restrictions regarding use, modification and redistribution.


This is a copyrighted software that is distributed free for a trial period and payment is required for using that software beyond the trial period.


Freeware is a copyrighted software provided at no cost by an individual or company that retains all rights to the software.

Open source

Open source software provided for use, modification, and redistribution.

This software has no restrictions from the copyright holder. Open source software usually can be downloaded from the Web at no cost.

Public domain software.

Public- domain software has been donated for public use and has no copyright restrictions.

Anyone can copy or distribute public-domain software to others at no cost.

Web-based software.

Web-based software refers to programs hosted by a Web site. Users access and interact with Web-based software from any computer or device that is connected to the internet.

Many Web sites allow free access to their programs; some charge a fee. Examples of Web-based software include e-mail, Websites builders, online games, travel and mapping software, etc.

Special purpose (specialized) software.

This refers to computer programs developed and dedicated to accomplish particular jobs only. Programs that run on special purpose computers like ATMs are special purpose software.

Other Examples of specialized software include:

  • Business – transaction and sales Management software.
  • Science and Engineering software etc.

General purpose.

This refers to a wide variety of application programs that perform many common tasks. Varieties of general purpose application programs include Word processing programs, Spreadsheet programs, web browsers, Graphics programs, etc.

Uses of popular application software varieties and their examples.

  1. Word processors.

Used for producing textual documents like letters, notes, reports, memos, etc. examples include: WordPerfect, Lotus Word Pro, Word Star, and Writer.

  1. Spreadsheet software.

Used for performing calculations, and the creating of graphs. Examples include:

  • Microsoft Excel
  • Lotus 1-2-3
  • K Spread
  • org Calc.
  1. Database Management Software (DBMS).

Used to create and manage an organized collection of related and structured information. Examples include;

  • Lotus approach
  • Microsoft access
  • Open Base
  • Corel paradox
  1. Presentation software

These applications are used for making presentation and slide shows that can aid a speech presentation. Examples include;

  • Screencast
  • Microsoft power point
  • Open impress
  • Adobe persuasion
  1. Communication software

These help computers communicate with others. Examples include;

  • Web browser
  • E-mail software
  • Chat rooms
  • News group
  • Text messaging
  • FTP programs
  • Blog software
  • Teleconferencing software. Etc.
  1. Computer aided design(CAD) software

This is the type of software that is used that is used to produce technical drawings such as designs of building structures and floor plans. Examples include;

  • ArchiCAD
  • DosmusCAD
  • AutoCAD .etc.
  1. Desktop publishing software.

These are used to create publications like cards, flyers, calendars, brochures, newsletters, certificates, .etc. examples include;

  • Microsoft publisher
  • Celframe publisher
  • Adobe page maker
  1. Web browsing software.

This is the type of software that is used for displaying webpages from the internet or html documents on computers. Examples include;

  • Mozilla fire fox
  • Internet explore
  • Safari
  • Opera Netscape navigator. Etc.
  1. Web authoring software

This is the type of software that is used by web masters for building websites. Examples include;

  • Microsoft front page
  • Microsoft Expression web
  • Antenna web design studio
  • Adobe Dreamweaver
  1. Media players

These are used for audio and video playbacks on computers. Examples include;

  • Windows media player
  • Nero ShowTime
  • Jet audio
  • Power DVD
  • VLC media player.
  1. Graphics software.

This is used by graphic designers to create and design artistic graphics and to manipulate visual images on a computer such as logs, cartoons. Etc. examples include;

  • Paint
  • Adobe Photoshop
  • Corel draw
  • Adobe illustrator.
  1. Accounting software.

This helps companies to record and report their financial transactions. Examples include;

  • Intuit QuickBooks
  • Microsoft Accounting
  • Sage Peachtree.
  1. Audio and video editing software.

This lets users produce studio quality soundtracks, modify video clips, reduce the length of a video clip, record series of clips etc.

  1. Image viewing software.

This refers to the computer applications primarily used for previewing digital photographs on the computer’s screen. Examples include;

  • Microsoft office picture manager
  • Windows photo viewer
  • Picasa photo viewer. Etc.
  1. Reference software.

Reference software applications are used for previewing digital photographs on the computer’s screen. Examples include;

  • Microsoft office picture manager
  • Windows photo viewer
  • Picasa photo viewer. Etc.

Software suites

A software suite is a collection of individual application software packages sold as a single entity or package. Examples include;

  • Microsoft office
  • Open office .org
  • Word perfect
  • Ability office
  • Celframe office
  • Lotus smart
  • Apple iWork
  • King soft Office

Popular software suites

 Lotus smart suite Lotus word pro Lotus 1-2-3                   Lotus freelance graphics Lotus approach
Microsoft office Microsoft word Microsoft excel Microsoft power point Microsoft access
K office K word K spread K presenter Kexi
Open Open writer Open calc Open impress Open base
Word perfect Word perfect Quattro Pro Corel presentations Corel paradox
Celframe office Celframe write Celframe spreadsheet Celframe power presentation Celframe data access
Ability office Ability write Ability spreadsheets Ability presentation Ability database
King soft office King soft write Kingsoft spreadsheets Kingsoft presentation None
Apple iWork Apple pages Apple numbers Apple keynote none


Advantages of using software suites

  1. Application within the suite share the same features. They are easy to use.
  2. They cost significantly cheaper than buying each of the application package separately
  3. Easy to install because all application within the suite are installed once.






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