Hardware vs. Software

Difference between Hardware and Software

It was during the late seventies when IBM India, a global computer giant in the world of computers made a graceful exit from India under the BJP regime. The exit of IBM from the country which turned out to be a big blow to the installed base of Unit Record Systems installed at various locations in India. With the exit of IBM, the computer industry was thrown back to its infancy. India, a country where even calculators were not manufactured and had to be imported for domestic consumption marked a watershed era. The country had never witnessed such a burgeoning of indigenous players who went all out to jump into the fray to produce indigenous computers. One of their first stints was to manufacture indigenous computers to replace the Unit Record machines installed by IBM India.


The Hardware and the Software in a Computer System are both integrated elements of the same and both have to complement each other for the functioning of the Computer System. Without the hardware and the software, the functioning of the computer will come to a grinding halt since they would not exist without each other. The Hardware is an exclusive part of the computers which consist of the physical portion of the computer and consist of the Central Processing Unit (CPU), the peripheral devices such as the Video Monitor, Storage Devices and the Memory. The primary function of the computer is to perform ultimate and accurate data processing functions. The Hardware of the Computer is driven by the Software which contain the code and instructions which exercise control over the functioning of the hardware and point in the right direction its functioning such as Internet browsers and Microsoft Windows Operating System.


As has been stated earlier, the hardware and software in a computer system are vital components comprising of cellular systems, satellite systems, digital electronic devices, storage devices such as CD ROMs, DVDs. These components which have a material subsistence are touchable hardware and the software is a program that operates based on the hardware. These computer relative terms operate in a close combination to run the computer systems. Both the hardware and the software have their individualistic identity and functionality, yet it is a bare fact that without any of the hardware or software, it is practically useless. Hence to run a system on an operational basis, it is extremely important that both the hardware and software are in line with each other thereby supporting each other to perform an efficient and accurate program that is debugged and processes the data with the accuracy demanded of the system.

Any part of the computer system that is visually seen and therefore has a material existence is known as the hardware. Even though the hardware may not be visible from the outside but is installed inside the frame-box would known as the hardware. All the hardware is required to assemble a computer physically and these lie in the category of hardware. The internal hardware constitute Motherboard, hard disk drive, RAM, CD or DVD drives, mouse, keyboard along with power and data cables as well as the power supply which provides adequate power supply to operate the computer system. The integration of the hardware and software is so intricate that without the hardware there is hardly anything to operate the software. Similarly, without software, there is no existence of the computer software.


What is therefore so unique about the software? In fact, the software runs on the hardware in order to execute any program. Software is basically a combination of such programs that make use of the computer hardware or any device functional. It is also a compilation of computer programs, procedures and documentation that is put into to use in order to perform a complex task on the computer transmitting instructions and commands to the hardware which make the computer operational. The software of the computer system is based on the Operating Systems, MS-Office programming software and the web browser. Hence in case a computer system is to be used for performance of some data processing work, it would not be possible without the software.

It may be observed that the functioning of the hardware begins only when the software has been installed on it. On the other hand, in order to transmit its set of commands and instructions, the software requires the requisite hardware. While the hardware components almost remain the same for various kinds of software, it means that all types of software could be run on basically the same hardware without altering its fundamental structure or parts. However, a slight modification is needed to implement heavier software. The hardware in a computer system comprises of storage devices which can store the important data although the data is essentially known as the software. While it is possible to run multiple types of software on a typical hardware, yet it is not possible to perform on the same singular program multiple hardware components.

During the last three decades or more, there have been major technological advancements taking into account the software development such as newer versions of the operating systems by one company or an operating system with totally varied features developed by another company. However, there has been a rather slower development on the hardware front since the advancements have not been easy especially when changes are required to be made to the physical specifications of the processor or enhancement of the storage capacity of the storage device is involved.


In a nutshell, both the hardware and software may be having diverse functions in terms of structure and appearance, yet there is no doubt about the fact that the hardware without the software is nothing except junk and similarly without the software without the hardware is useless. Thence, the components of the computer which have a physical existence like hardware will be operational only when the proper software is installed on the hardware. Further, in order to run a program of software, the requisite hardware is essential that would implement the software.