Difference between Program and Software

Every computer system requires instructions in order to do something. Program and software are such instructions given to the computer to perform some function. A program is a small block of code that instructs the system to do its task where as a software is a set of programs which instructs computer just like program does. But the functionalities and features of a software are more compared to that of a program.

What is a Program?

A program is a set of instructions that are given to the computer to execute. It allows the computer to perform a specific task. Each and every program has a unique function to do. These programs are stored in the memory and are run when it is necessary.

Every program is written in programming languages such as C, C++, Java etc., these programs are run using a compiler. Compilers then convert the source code into an object code (which is in 0s and 1s) and generates the output. Programs are small and they don’t have any user interface.

A program is created by a single user and even a single line of code can be a program. It is the basic unit of a software.

What is a Software?

A software is a set of programs or instructions given to a computer system. It is a collection of programs that performs a function. It controls the working of a computer and manages all the components.

Software is mainly classified into two types. They are Application software and System software.

Application Software

An application software is a software program than can perform a specific task. This task performed can be business related or personal. This software is accessed by the user and its sole purpose is to serve the user requirements. This software is written in high level programming languages.

Application software are installed by the user. User can use different application software based on their need. One can install a number of application software in their system. We can run multiple application software at the same time.

Games like candy crush, web browsers, messengers like WhatsApp, social media apps ae all examples of application software. Users directly interact with this software to perform their task.

System Software

System software is the main software of a computer that has a direct access to the system’s hardware. It takes care and monitors all the other functions of a computer.

System software executes the application software. It acts as a layer between the application software and the system’s hardware. It is written in low level programming languages.

Example − Operating system, Firmware, Boot loaders, Device drivers etc.,

Difference between Program and Software

The following table highlights the major differences between Program and Software −



A program is a set of instructions to perform a specific task

A software is a collection is programs or instructions to execute a task

Program can be a single line of code

Software consists of a number of lines of code

Program can be written by a single user

Software is written by many users

A single program can’t be a software

Software can be a program

A program is generally written in low level programming languages

Software generally use high level programming languages

It is not classified further

Software is further classified into application and system software

It is small in size and ranges from kilobytes to megabytes

It is huge and its size ranges from megabytes to gigabytes

It doesn’t have any user interface

It provides command line and graphical user interface

It is compiled every time when output is needed

It is already compiled and debugged during its development

As a program is small and perform only a specific task, it has limited features

It has a wide range of features and functionalities as it is a collection of many programs

It is simple and easy to create a program.

Creating a software is a complex task

It takes less time for program creation

More time is needed to create a software

It takes low cost to develop a program

Development of a software is costly

It requires only basic knowledge to build a program

User must be experienced and well trained in order to create a software

It depends on compiler for its execution

It depends on OS for its execution

There is no need of planning to develop a program

Software development requires well planning, organizing and time management

It contains only comments

It contains both comments and documentation

A program requires software in order to run it

Software can run independent of the programs

A computer can work without a program

Computer is useless without a software in it as it requires an OS to function which is system software

Example: Web browsers, malware etc.,

Example: Windows, Android, Adobe reader, MS Office etc., are examples of software


A program is a piece of code or a set of instructions that performs a given task whereas a software is a set of programs used to perform a task, which is more complex than that of a program. Software is more complex and is more essential than that of a program. A computer doesn’t work without a software in it.

Updated on: 19-Apr-2023

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