Applications Software

Learning Objectives

  • to understand what applications software is, and the different ways it is offered be it online or locally.

Learning Outcomes

Must – understand what local and online storage is.

Should – understand what proprietary and open source software is and how it can be offered.

Could – discuss how companies are coming up with ways to compete with SaaS.

Storage – Local or Online?

When a person saves a document they have to make a choice about the location they will save the document.  The decision comes down to two key choices:

  1. Do I have access to the Internet and cloud storage?
  2. Do I need to access the document from another location?

If the answer to the two questions above is both No, the user will normally save the document to their computer’s hard drive.  The is known as Local Storage.  Local Storage is any document or file that is saved on the computer’s hard drive.

If the user needs to access the document or file on another computer, they will need to save the upload the document to cloud storage using the Internet.  This is known as Online Storage.

Local Storage and Online Storage have many pros and cons associated with them.


Can you think of the benefits and drawbacks of both Local and Online Storage.  Write them in your exercise book.

Applications Software

Applications Software is software used to carry out a particular task e.g., spreadsheet software or graphic manipulations software.  There are two main ways that application software is available:

  1. Locally Installed 

Locally Installed software is software that the users obtains, by either installing it from an optical disk onto a computer or by downloading it from a website and installing it onto their computer.

The advantages of locally installed software are:

  • the software works without the need to be connected to the Internet.
  • you hold the licence to use the software.
  • you control access to the computer so it is secure.

The disadvantages of locally installed software are:

  • it takes up storage space on your hard drive.
  • it the software needs upgrading or fixing you have to download the patches and fixes and correct it yourself.
  • all the data is stored locally so it will need to be backed up.

2. Hosted Software (Software as a Service or SaaS)

Hosted Software runs through a web browser so you need to access the Internet.  All the software is stored on a web server as it hosts all the data and files.

The advantages of hosted software are:

  • software doesn’t take up file space on your device.
  • allows different users to work on the same document/file, even in different locations geographically.

The disadvantages of hosted software are:

  • it requires the Internet to access it and use it.
  • security is an issue.  Some hosting companies have been a target of hackers.
  • the network speed has an impact on how fast the response time is.

Proprietary or Open Source?

The software can be bundled into 2 categories.  Proprietary or Open Source.

Proprietary Software, coming from the word Proprietor (which is an owner), is software owned and developed by a company.  Proprietary Software is paid for.  In order to use the Proprietary software, you need to agree to the developers end user licence agreement.

Microsoft Office Suite and Adobe Photoshop are examples of Proprietary Software.

Open Source Software is developed by a group of programmers who act as volunteers.   These people gradually improve the software over time with the help of others.  Open Source software is free to use.  Open Source Software can also be improved by getting involved with the community who developed it.

Open Office, Inkscape and Audacity are examples of Open Source Software.


Exam Question

Discuss and compare the advantages and disadvantages of installing and using open source and proprietary software for a small company.  (6 marks)

Commercial Response to SaaS

Companies such as Apple and Microsoft have been developing, making and selling software to users for over 30 years.  Customers who use software from these companies have made repeated purchases or revised and upgraded software whenever they have been released.

For example, Microsoft, have sold the Office Suite for over 25 years, upgrading and improving this software every couple of years or so.  Office is without doubt the most well known, popular and profitable piece of office applications software available.  Almost all major companies, colleges, schools and universities use Office as well as a vast percentage of home users and small businesses.

Companies such as Google, have been muscling in on Microsoft’s Office suite by developing a similar hosted service or SaaS, called Google Drive.  Google Drive is free to use and available to anyone who registers a Google Mail email address.  Google Docs contains a compatible version of Microsoft Word which contains most of the similar key features found in Word itself.  Sheets is similar to Excel and Slides similar to PowerPoint.

Because Google is popular, easy to use and free, Google Drive is starting to get recognised as a key competitor to Microsoft Office.  Microsoft Office is concerned about this so it has to make its Office suite better so users and businesses continue to buy it and use it.

How Commercial Companies respond to SaaS?

  • Commercial companies are responding to SaaS by making their products more appealing and a better quality so that more people continue to buy them.  This includes including more features and functions.
  • Bundling free software into laptops and tablets so people use them by default.
  • Providing technical support.
  • Copyright protection of features to stop similar copied free products.
  • Offering own versions online as a SaaS.


Exam Question

What are the benefits to society and the environment of software moving to hosted (SaaS)?

(3 Marks)