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MIS Course "Home of the Power of Technology"

Chapter 4

Your Instructor
Drop Box
Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Case Study
Extra Resources

  • Software. Computer software consists of two major types of programs: (1) application software that directs the performance of a particular use, or application, of computers to meet the information processing needs of users, and (2) system software that controls and supports the operations of a computer system as it performs various information processing tasks. Refer to Figure 4.2 for an overview of the major types of software.
  • Application Software. Application software includes a variety of programs that can be segregated into general-purpose and application-specific categories. General-purpose application programs perform common information processing jobs for end users. Examples are word processing, electronic spreadsheet, and presentation graphics programs. Application-specific programs accomplish information processing tasks that support specific business functions or processes, scientific or engineering applications, and other computer applications in society.
  • System Software. System software can be subdivided into system management programs and system development programs. System management programs manage the hardware, software, network, and data resources of a computer system during its execution of information processing jobs. Examples of system management programs are operating systems, network management programs, database management systems, system utilities, application servers, and performance and security monitors. Network management programs support and manage telecommunications activities and network performance telecommunications networks. Database management systems control the development, integration, and maintenance of databases. Utilities are programs that perform routine computing functions, such as backing up data or copying files, as part of an operating system or as a separate package. System development programs like language translators and programming editors help IS specialists develop computer programs to support business processes.
  • Operating Systems. An operating system is an integrated system of programs that supervises the operation of the CPU, controls the input/output storage functions of the computer system, and provides various support services. An operating system performs five basic functions: (1) a user interface for system and network communications with users, (2) resource management for managing the hardware resources of a computer system, (3) file management for managing files of data and programs, (4) task management for managing the tasks a computer must accomplish, and (5) utilities and other functions that provide miscellaneous support services.
  • Programming Languages. Programming languages are a major category of system software. They require the use of a variety of programming packages to help programmers develop computer programs, and language translator programs to convert programming language instructions into machine language instruction codes. The five major levels of programming languages are machine languages, assembler languages, high-level languages, fourth-generation languages, and objectoriented languages. Object-oriented languages like Java and special-purpose languages like HTML and XML are being widely used for Web-based business applications and services.
  • Chapter 4: Computer Software


    1.      What major trends are occurring in software?  What capabilities do you expect to see in future software packages?


    Major trends are toward easy-to-use, general-purpose application packages and toward natural languages.  Expect powerful, multi-purpose, expert-assisted software packages with natural language and graphics-based user interfaces have fast become the norm.  Future software packages will no doubt incorporate more voice activated features than we have previously seen.  General purpose software packages will probably not incorporate many new features; however the software industry will continue to strive towards ensuring that their new releases are better written, and easier to use.


    2.      How do the different roles of system software and application software affect you as a business end user?  How do you see this changing in the future?


    The system software acts as an interface between the computer hardware and the application software.  The end user will interact mainly with application software.  In the future this type of interface will become even easier to use as it moves towards natural interfaces.


    3.      Refer to the Real World Case on Intuit and Lone Star Doughnuts in the chapter. What does the experience of Lone Star Doughnuts reveal about the nature of the small business software market, and the challenges faced by Microsoft, SAP and Oracle in competing in that market with Intuit? How should that shape their software product and marketing strategies?


          Experiences revealed may include:

             Expanding market potential

             Small business software capabilities must grow as the customer users grow as businesses.

             Small business software continues to be redefined in terms of its complexity, capacity and targeted markets.


          Product and marketing strategies are shaped by:

             Changing markets as customers grow as businesses and change their needs for small business software.

             Vendors of small business software recognizing that they can compete against larger vendors such as Microsoft, SAP and Oracle with effective strategic planning.

             Small business software vendors developing strategies to meet the changing needs of their clients.


    4.      Why is an operating system necessary?  That is, why can’t an end user just load an application program in a computer and start computing?


    The instruction set implemented on the computer hardware (the machine language) is very limited. Programs using only these instructions would have to be extremely long and complicated, to perform the various processing tasks required by end users.  Application programs thus require the operating system to act as an interface with the hardware, allowing application programs to be shorter, easier to understand, easier to use, and possibly allow multiple applications to run concurrently.


    5.      Should a web browser be integrated into an operating system?  Why or why not?


    Opinions will probably vary.  Responses may include justification such as convenience, growing popularity of Internet, extranets, and intranets.  Rejection may include the additional resource requirements, abuse of corporate resources using the web browser for activities not related to company business, etc.


    6.      Refer to the Real World Case on Wells Fargo and Others in the chapter. Use Google and other search engines to research the topic of Web services, and visit the Web services links of BEA, IBM, and Microsoft provided at the end of that case. What can be done to improve the business use of Web services today?


          Improving the business use of Web services would include:

             Focusing on service-oriented architectures

             Developing methods to deliver improvements to site users faster.

             Developing methods to deliver improvements to site users cheaper.

             Providing for Web-site users greater value as they use the site.

             Using software development tools and techniques that will permit site users to enhance their business activities through the continual use of the site.


    7.      Are software suites, web browsers, and groupware merging together?  What are the implications for a business and its end users?


    Definitely, the capabilities of these systems are merging together.  The growing areas such as the Internet, extranets, and intranets are pushing technology towards tighter integration of these capabilities.  Implications for a business and its end users are greater efficiencies, and the collaboration of workgroup computing.


    8.      How are the HTML, XML, and Java programming languages affecting business applications on the Web?


    HTML and Java are becoming vital tools for building multimedia web pages, web sites, and web-based applications.  Business can use HTML to create hypertext and hypermedia documents, creating hyperlinks to other parts of documents anywhere on the Web.  Java is a simple and secure programming language, and is computing platform independent.  It is specifically designed for real-time, interactive, web-based network applications.  As well, it uses applets, which can be executed by any computer and any operating system anywhere in a network.  Applets can reside at web sites on a network server until needed by client systems, and are easy to distribute over the Internet or intranets and extranets.  Java is becoming the programming language choice for many organizations intent on capitalizing on the business potential of the Internet, as well as their own intranets and extranets.  The casual user will be able to download the applet on an as-needed basis by using browser software.  This will greatly reduce the cost of having to install expensive software on the users’ PCs.  As well, valuable resources such as RAM, disk space, expensive processors etc. will be freed up for other business uses.


    9.      Do you think Linux will surpass other operating systems for network and Web servers? Why or why not?


          Suggested issues would include:


             Open source environment encourages users to discover and share problems and patches before hacker attacks.

             The difficulty of installation of Linux vs. easier installation for other operating systems.

             Device drivers are not as readily updated for Linux as compared to what is usual for other operating systems.


    10.         Which application software packages are the most important for a business end user to know how to use?  Explain the reasons for your choices.


    Word processing – software that handles electronic storage, editing, formatting, and printing of documents.

    Spreadsheets – software displaying data in a grid of columns and rows, with the capability of easily recalculating numerical data.

    Databases management systems – special software to create and maintain a database and enable individual business applications to extract the data they need without having to create separate files or data definitions in their computer programs.

    Groupware – software that supports the collaborative activities of work groups.

    e-mail – facilitates the computer-to-computer exchange of messages.

    Web browser – easy-to-use software for accessing the World Wide Web and the Internet.

    Presentation graphics – software to create professional-quality graphics presentations that can incorporate charts, sound, animation, photos, and video clips.

    Desktop publishing software – software that provides more control over the placement of text, graphics, and photos in the layout of a page than word processing software.


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