Computer Software

Software refers to the programs your computer uses to perform the actions you want it to. Learn all about computer software, from Web browsers to the latest operating systems, with our explanations, reviews, videos and prices.

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After lengthy delays, Microsoft finally released the much-anticipated first version of the graphics-heavy Windows Vista. Check out what's new.

By Tracy V. Wilson

The digital revolution that has empowered consumers to use digital media in new and innovative ways has also made it nearly impossible for copyright holders to control the distribution of their property. Enter "digital rights management," or DRM.

By Julia Layton

Microsoft is a software company. It makes money by selling its software for use on computers. That's an accurate summary, but it doesn't tell anywhere near the whole story. Microsoft rules the world, but just what does it do, anyway?

By John Postley


Instead of downloading a file in its entirety, BitTorrent gathers pieces of the file you want and transfers them simultaneously from other sources. How does it put the pieces back together?

By Carmen Carmack

With unlimited file sharing comes the big question: Should users be granted unrestricted -- and free -- access to copyrighted movies, music and games? Find out how Kazaa has weathered the legal storm so far.

By Stephanie Watson

File-sharing allow millions of people to freely trade MP3 and video files on the Internet. Is it legal? How are the files exchanged? Is there a central database? Find out how the file-sharing structure works and see why it makes it difficult for record labels to sue.

By Marshall Brain

Have a camcorder and a computer? Add a piece of software to the mix and you can turn a home movie into a high-quality video masterpiece!

By Marshall Brain & Roxanne Reid


When you use programming to tell a computer what to do, you also get to choose how it's going to do it. That's where computer algorithms come in. The algorithm is the basic technique used to get the job done.

There's a special command your computer sends when your keyboard and mice have been idle for a period of time. Find out how your computer activates your screensaver.

In this article, we'll find out exactly what Shockwave 3-D technology is and how it works. We'll also explore some applications of this technology and check out some very cool 3-D images.

By Tom Harris

The relational database was born in 1970 when E.F. Codd, a researcher at IBM, wrote a paper outlining the process. At the time, databases were "flat," and stored as one long text file. Learn how the relational database changed the way we work.


As a file-sharing program, Aimster is generally more secure because users have complete control over their files. This AOL program can also hook up with your IM friends.

Augmented reality is the blending of interactive digital elements into our real-world environments. Taking a photo just by framing your fingers is one example.

By Kevin Bonsor & Nathan Chandler

While Windows is a versatile and powerful operating system, there are times that it can be frustrating. Safe Mode is a special way for Windows to load when there is a system-critical problem that interferes with the normal operation of Windows.

Compression programs can eliminate 50 to 95 percent of file size in seconds, but when you open up the file the data is still there! Learn how compression algorithms cut down on bytes without killing data.

By Tom Harris


While the original Napster got sued out of business, dozens of free file-sharing utilities have popped up to take its place. Find out how the old Napster worked and why it was vulnerable to legal attacks.

By Jeff Tyson

In the late 1980s, Adobe introduced its Type 1 fonts based on vector graphics. Unlike bitmapped fonts, vector fonts could be made larger or smaller and still look good.

The operating system controls every task your computer carries out and manages system resources to optimize performance. How does it do it without crashing (most of the time)?

By Curt Franklin & Chris Pollette

Screensavers used to be necessary due to CRT monitor quirks -- now they're mostly used for entertainment and security. Find out what a screensaver is and how it knows when to kick in.

By Jeff Tyson


What would you do if you could customize the software on your computer? Learn about open source code and how applications might be more useful and error-free in the long term.

If you want to play MP3 files in your car and your car has a CD player in it, or if you want to play them on your home stereo, then what you need to do is move your MP3 files onto a CD. Here's how.

3-D graphics are essential to realistic computer games and object modeling -- they can make computer images look totally life-like! But how is a computer model transformed into the image you see on the screen?

By Curt Franklin

GIF and JPEG formats may be the most commonly used, but there are other useful image formats for more specific purposes. Find out what they are and how to use them.


Get a refresher on the original Napster and why it caused such a storm about intellectual property laws.

How does SETI@home thing work? What do extraterrestrials have to do with screen savers?