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Major Types of Software: Explained with Examples

While working on a computer, we come across various computer software which helps to ease our tasks and increase the overall efficiency of the work process. Anything from creating a simple document to surfing the Internet on a computer system is done using the software. 


In this digital or technological era, we are surrounded by different software, which is even increasing rapidly day by day. No matter what operating system or platform we use, we are leveraging software and making our lives easier. Without software, a computer is nothing but a set of different hardware components.

In this article, we are discussing the different types of software used on computer systems. However, they are quite similar to each other electronic devices. Before we discuss the software types, let us understand a quick introduction to computer software along with its definition:

What is Software?

By definition, “Software is defined as a collection of data, instructions, programs, and rules that instruct a computer system or other electronic device to work efficiently, perform, and carry out specific tasks.

In other words, software is a general term that refers to any application, program, or script running on computer devices to help them perform specific tasks or process them. It is considered to be the variable part of the computer system, while the other major part is the hardware which is the invariable part.

How does Software work?

Computer software is nothing but a separate term for the computer program, which means some specific set of instructions. Instructions are written in different languages that can be understood by the computer. Instructions (commonly called codes) help in giving instructions to the computer to work and feed data to do the work and satisfy the needs of the users.

The basic logic of all software is to take inputs, process them and provide output, i.e. Input > Process > Output. For example, consider clicking the Print button on a computer. The computer takes the document as an input, then asks users to adjust certain preferences. Thereafter, the given set of rules is processed and output is provided from the printer as a printed document on paper.


How many types of Software are there in computers?

There are different types of software based on their classification. However, if we broadly classify the types of software in a computer, there are two major types as listed below:

System Software
Application Software

Types of Software

These are the two primary types of software and all other types of software are served under them. Let us understand both system software and application software in detail with their types and examples:

What You Will Learn


System Software

System software is usually defined as a set of various programs or instructions that help to control or manage the hardware devices connected to the computer and other important resources of the system. Specifically, it helps in making the working of the computer efficient, enables faster performance in a secure manner. In addition, the system software also establishes a platform to run the application software.

System software allows users a variety of options to interact with basic settings and to give commands to the computer using a graphical user interface. Users can only interact with general system settings and services. In addition, the core services and programs of system software automatically work in the background to manage system processes and performance.


Characteristics of System Software

The following are the main characteristics or features of the system software:

System software is more closely related to system or hardware components rather than users.
System software is much faster in performance or processing.
System software is usually written or developed in a low-level language so that it can interact with machines at the maximum possible speed.
System software does not interact much with the users as compared to application software. They usually work in the background.
It is comparatively difficult to manipulate system software as it is complex to understand or design.

Types of System Software

Now, we already have an idea of what is system software and what are its features. Let us now understand the different types of system software and examples, which will help us to understand a little more about system software:

Types of System Software

Operating System: An operating system, commonly referred to as an OS, is one of the primary types or examples of system software. It consists of a set of software designed to handle computer resources and services and provides a platform for running other applications/software. 

Although each operating system operates on programming code and instructions, most operating systems include a GUI (Graphical User Interface) that helps users to interact with the OS easily without using coding directly.

Every electronic device, be it a desktop, laptop, or mobile phone, needs to have an operating system installed on it to function and provide basic functionality. The operating system is the first program that runs after the computer system is booted. The operating system takes control of the entire computer and efficiently manages all services and resources, such as CPU, memory, storage devices (HDD or SSD), printers, etc.

Some of the popular examples of Operating Systems are listed below:

MS-Windows
Android
macOS
iOS
Linux
Ubuntu
Unix
CentOS

Device Drivers: A device driver is specialized computer software primarily designed to control specific hardware of a computer system. Computers use different hardware devices, and each device requires a driver to function properly. 

The most common hardware devices that require device drivers are displays, graphic cards, sound cards, hard disks, printers, mouse, and keyboards. Users may need to manually install device drivers for some hardware devices, while for others, the operating system automatically installs a supported driver. There are two different types of device drivers, namely Kernel Device Drivers, and User Device Drivers.

Some of the popular examples of Device Drivers are listed below:

BIOS Driver
Motherboard Driver
Display Driver
Sound Card Driver
Graphics Card Driver
USB Driver
Printer Drivers
VIRTUAL Device Drivers
ROM Drivers


Firmware: Firmware is known as permanent software or instructions stored in the motherboard storage or ROM (read-only memory) of the computer system. However, it is not actually stored permanently as most current computer systems allow users to update the firmware using a firmware updater. 

Firmware Software, like other software, has a set of instructions. Unlike other software, the primary function of firmware is to check for errors, and ensure that all necessary hardware devices are working properly as soon as the user turns on the computer. If everything is working, the firmware wakes up the system and transfers control to the operating system. 

Some of the popular examples of Firmware are listed below:

BIOS
UEFI
Embedded Systems
Computer Peripherals
Computer Applications

Programming Language Translators: Specifically, system software helps convert high-level language code (human-readable language code) into simple machine-level code and vice-versa. This conversion is usually performed using programming language translators or processors. 

Programming language translators help convert computer programs written in high-level programming languages such as Java, C, C++, Python, etc. (also called source code) into instructions that can be interpreted by machines as object-level code or machine code. 

Despite simplifying the code, programming language translators also help to perform the following tasks: assigning data storage, obtaining diagnostic reports, obtaining source code and other details related to the program, identifying system errors during runtime, or rectify, etc.

Examples of programming language translators are listed below:

Interpreter
Compiler
Assembler


Utility: Utility tool or software is primarily developed to analyze, optimize, configure and maintain a computer system or its resources. This usually helps to support the computer infrastructure smoothly. Utility software monitors how the operating system is performing and then gives suggestions or makes changes automatically to improve the functioning and overall performance of the computer. 

Utility software includes various computer software categories, such as antivirus, disk clean-up, and management tools, performance optimizers, defragmenters, compression tools, etc.

Some of the popular examples of utility tools/software are listed below:

Windows File Explorer
WinRAR
WinZip
Avast Antivirus
McAfee Antivirus
Norton Antivirus 
Directory Opus
Piriform Defraggler
Piriform CCleaner
Razer Cortex

Application Software

Application software refers to a set of programs and instructions that help perform specific tasks, on a computer system. It is mainly designed to meet certain requirements of a particular environment. Application software can be downloaded and installed manually on the computer system and these software have nothing to do with the system core functions.


System software typically runs in the front-end, making it more accessible and intractable to users. It is important to note that application software cannot run on its own; they require the platform established by the system software. For example, any web browser software like Google Chrome requires an operating system to run. Unlike system software, application software is not mandatory for the system. However, they can help perform various tasks on the computer.

Characteristics of Application Software

The following are the main characteristics or features of the application software:

Application software is mainly developed or programmed to complete specific tasks on computers, such as image editing, word processing, gaming, etc.
Application software is mostly bigger in size and hence takes up more storage or space on the machines/systems.
Application software is typically written or developed in high-level languages.
Application software generally interacts more with users, helping them to use the software easily.
Application software is somewhat easier to design and develop than system software.

Types of Application Software

Now, we already have an idea of what is application software and what are its features. Let us now understand the different types of application software and examples, which will help us to understand a little more about application software:

Types of Application Software

Word Processors: Word processors or word processing software are primarily designed to create documentation on computers or other electronic devices. Additionally, word processor software also helps in managing, formatting, and printing documents. 

Some of the popular examples of Word Processors are listed below:

MS Word
Google Docs
OpenOffice Writer
Corel WordPerfect
AbiWord
Apple iWork- Pages

Database Software: Database software is useful computer software that mainly helps in creating and managing databases. It is also called DBMS (Database Management Software). Database software plays an important role when organizing data on a computer or server.

Some of the popular examples of Database software are listed below:

MS Access
MySQL
dBase
Clipper
FileMaker
FoxPro

Multimedia Software: As the name suggests, multimedia software is mainly used to perform tasks related to media files, such as audio or video files. It helps to play, create or modify media files. Multimedia software plays an important role in image editing, video editing, animation, and graphics-related tasks.

Some of the popular examples of Multimedia software are listed below:

Windows Media Player
Windows Movie Maker
VLC Media Player
Picasa
Adobe Photoshop
Media Monkey
Inkscape

Graphics Software: Graphics software is strictly designed keeping in mind the graphics-related tasks. It primarily helps users to design logos, edit images, and make other changes to visual data. Graphics software includes many built-in tools and features to make editing and illustration easier.


Some of the popular examples of Graphics software are listed below:

Adobe Photoshop
Adobe Illustrator
Adobe Indesign
CorelDRAW
GIMP
MS Paint
Blender
Autodesk Maya

Web Browsers: Web browsers are mainly used for searching the internet or browsing the internet. It is specialized computer software and helps users to find specific web addresses to retrieve data across the web. 

Most computers and electronic devices come preinstalled with a native web browser provided by the manufacturer. However, users can always install desired third-party web-browsers from the App Store using the Internet on their devices.

Some of the popular examples of Web Browsers are listed below:

Google Chrome
Mozilla Firefox
Microsoft Edge
Internet Explorer
Opera
Safari

Education and Reference Software: These are computer software primarily designed to help users learn specific topics on specific subjects. A wide range of educational software is available on the internet and users can facilitate learning through them. This type of software is also known as Academic Software.

Educational software can be free-to-use or paid. Some of the popular examples of Educational or Reference software are listed below:

Delta Drawing
Polarr
GeoGebra
FluidMath
GCompris
Tux Paint
OneNote
Microsoft To-Do

Customized or Specific Purpose Software: Customized or specific purpose software is specialized computer software developed or programmed primarily to perform specific tasks/ functions or designed for specific organizations. All such software that fulfills specific purposes comes under application software.

Some of the popular specific purpose software are Railway Reservation System, Invoice Management System, Airline Reservation System, etc.

Classification of Computer Software

Apart from the classification mentioned above, there exists another popular classification of computer software. This classification is generally based on the availability and shareability of the software, which includes the following:

Freeware
Shareware
Open Source
Closed Source
Middleware

Classification of Software

Let us understand each in detail:

Freeware

Freeware is a type of computer software that is freely available on the Internet. Users do not need to pay anything to use the freeware. They can easily download the freeware from the official sites of their respective developer, and install it on the computer like any other normal software.

Apart from this, the freeware does not allow others to edit or modify the original software without the consent of their owner. Furthermore, no other person or website may charge for the distribution of the freeware. Some popular freeware examples are listed below:

Adobe Reader
Audacity
Team Viewer
Recuva
CCleaner
Skype
Yahoo Messenger
ImgBurn

Shareware

Shareware is a type of computer software that is freely available to be used and shared on a trial basis. This means shareware is provided to the users with a fixed time limit. Once the limit is reached, users will have to purchase the software or pay monthly to continue using the services. 

Shareware may offer all or a limited number of services before the time limit is reached. Similarly, some services or all services may be restricted once the limit is reached. Shareware usually allows users to test the software before purchasing it so that users can check whether the software is right for them or their business needs.

WinRAR is one of the most popular shareware software used on computer systems. Some other popular shareware examples are listed below:

Adobe Acrobat
Winzip
Getright
PHP Debugger

Open-Source

As the name suggests, open-source software is provided to the users with the source code in which the software is written. The source code is shared so that others can modify the code and add additional features in the software according to their needs. 

The main purpose of open-source software is to encourage developers to show their potential and creativity. Specifically, open-source means developing or modifying the code to make it even better for others. Open-source software can be distributed as free or chargeable by its owner. 

Linux OS is one of the most popular free-to-use open-source software. Some other essential open-source software examples are listed below:

Apache Web Server
Mozilla Firefox
Thunderbird
Moodle
GNU Compiler Collection

Closed-Source

Closed-source software (also called proprietary software) is a type of computer software that does not distribute source code or native code. No unauthorized moderation is allowed in closed source software. The source of closed-source software is kept completely private and encrypted.


Most of the software used on computers is closed-source and asks users to pay or purchase them. The developer/owner has all rights or registered patents on the source code of the closed source software. Generally, closed-source software are developed for commercial use; however, they can be both commercial and private.

Skype is one of the most popular closed-source software and typically charges high-volume users money. Some other essential closed-source software examples are listed below:

Google Earth
WinRAR
Adobe Flash
Microsoft Office
Microsoft Windows

Middleware

As the name suggests, middleware is a type of computer software that usually mediates between application and system software, or between two different application software. For instance, middleware helps Microsoft Windows interact with MS Word or MS Excel. 

Middleware can also help send remote work requests between two different computers, from an application with one specific OS to an application with a different OS. Also, middleware plays an important role in making new computer applications/programs work in old or legacy ones.

Some essential middleware software examples are listed below:

Integration
Transactions
Data Access
Application Framework
Device Middleware
Game Engines
Robot Middleware

Summary

As discussed above, the software is a set of programs used on computer devices that help the users to give commands to the computer as well as instruct the computer what to do. The two major types of software include system software and application software. System software is designed to manage system resources or operations, whereas application software helps to meet certain needs of users to perform specific tasks on a computer.


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INTERNET Full Form - Interconnected Network

Nowadays millions of people, educational institutions, industries, and government organizations are connected to each other. INTERNET is the solution. It has enabled people to connect through electronic devices from all over the world. It would not be wrong to say that now we cannot imagine a world without the INTERNET. But the question that comes to the mind of many people is that 'what is the full form of INTERNET?'


In this article, we have discussed the word INTERNET along with some other details, such as the INTERNET full form, what is INTERNET, its history, working, uses, advantages, disadvantages, and more.

What You Will Learn


What is the full form of INTERNET?

The meaning or full form of INTERNET is the "Interconnected Network” of all the Web Servers Worldwide. In addition to this, the term INTERNET is also used as a short form of 'International Networking', which is basically an interconnected network. However, most people believe that the word Internet is not an acronym and is just a word that has its own meaning.

The term ‘Network’ specifies the connection established between two or more computers or electronic devices to exchange information or media files. Internet is currently the largest network in the world.

INTERNET Full Form

The full form of INTERNET can be explained as below:

Inter Interconnected
Net Network

Let us now understand what the INTERNET is:

What is an INTERNET?

The INTERNET is a connection of numerous networks on a very large scale. It helps to connect millions of electronic devices, websites, and servers. In other words, the connection between two or more electronic devices established using TCP/IP protocol (Transport Control Protocol/Internet Protocol) to exchange information is called the INTERNET. 

The INTERNET is the largest network extended across the world. With the help of the INTERNET, users around the world can exchange text, images, videos, documents, and other files. It allows users to interact with friends, relatives, and others using it simply by sitting in front of their electronic devices. 

Note: Internet is also referred to as the WWW (World Wide Web) or simply the 'Web' in short. However, the two terms, INTERNET, and WWW are not the same.

Brief History of INTERNET

The Internet is established around the world using interconnected gateways and routers that are interconnected. It is not made by any one person. Instead, several innovations were made by different scientists. A technique for effectively transmitting electronic data was created by computer scientists with the concept of "packet switching", which later helped form the building blocks of the Internet.

In the late 1960s, the first viable early version of the Internet came with the creation of the ARPANET (Advanced Research Projects Agency Network). ARPANET initially used "packet switching", funded by the US Department of Defence, to enable multiple computers on the same network to communicate. 


In 1969, ARPANET created a successful connection between the University of California Los Angeles and the Stanford Research Institute on the same network. Later in 1983, the TCP/IP were established, allowing network technology to mature, and from that time onwards researchers began to combine together a "network of networks" that became the modern Internet. The user-friendly internet interface was created in 1991.

How is an INTERNET formed?

The INTERNET is a typical connection of interconnected networks, which means the network of networks. It is usually formed using interconnected gateways and distinct routers connected together worldwide. This network consists of a huge number of private, public, and government organizations, schools and colleges, hospitals, research centers, and many other servers worldwide.

How does the INTERNET works?

The INTERNET is a worldwide network of computers and other electronic devices that transmit a variety of data and media files across interconnected devices. The INTERNET typically works via a packet routing network that follows Transport Control Protocol (TCP) and the Internet Protocol (IP).

When the data is transferred across the web, it is converted into messages and packets. Data sent over the Internet is known as a message. However, it is broken up into small parts, called packets, before it is sent over the Internet. The INTERNET is accessed using the web browser.

Popular Web Browsers 

Following is the list of the few most popular web browsers use worldwide:

Google Chrome
Mozilla Firefox
Safari
Microsoft Edge
Opera

Most mobile devices come preinstalled with a stock web browser by the manufacturer. However, it usually supports minimal or basic features. Users can always install any of the above third-party web browsers on their devices accordingly.

Functioning Area for INTERNET

INTERNET was primarily designed to establish a secure connection in work environments such as offices or businesses. However, it became useful and expanded throughout the world in a very short time. Nowadays, almost everyone is benefitting from the INTERNET and it can be easily seen in almost every field, including homes, colleges, research institutions, hospitals, airports, or even in many remote areas.


The INTERNET has made communication between people so easier that they can connect from all around the world easily. It has changed the world. Some of the popular functioning areas of the INTERNET can be seen on apps like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp, and search engines like Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc.

Interconnected Network

Common Uses of INTERNET

INTERNET has a wide range of applications/ uses. Some of the most common uses of INTERNET are listed below:

Online purchasing, payments, net banking, gaming, etc.

Communicating with friends or family over calls or video conferencing.

Sending and receiving emails, using social media platforms, sharing photos and videos with others.

Online blogging, broadcasting, studying, etc.

Accessing information on specific topics from millions of websites, which include the World Wide Web.

Advantages of INTERNET

Some essential advantages of the INTERNET are listed below:

The INTERNET provides knowledge or information on almost all topics with just a few clicks. 

Using the INTERNET, users from different areas of the world can communicate and even share files in a very less time.


With GPS navigation, the INTERNET allows users to use the map and locate nearly every place with ease.

The INTERNET has made banking a lot easier; users can easily transfer money, check their bank balance, make purchases, and send/ receive money quickly.

Disadvantages of INTERNET

Some essential disadvantages of the INTERNET are listed below:

People addicted to the INTERNET may face several health-related issues, not only to their fitness but also to their psychological state.

With the increasing use of the INTERNET, online frauds have also increased. Due to this, people end up losing their personal information and even money.

Users typically get addicted to online surfing, gaming, or other kinds of stuff on the INTERNET, spending less time with people in the real world. This usually decreases social interaction and face-to-face communication.

The INTERNET can display pornographic content or violent images/ ads to users even when they don't want to see them. Additionally, there can be spam and unnecessary advertising. 

INTERNET vs World Wide Web

The terms INTERNET and World Wide Web are two different terms with different meanings and working. The INTERNET is usually defined as a global system of interconnected computer networks. Besides, the World Wide Web is typically defined as a global collection of documents and other resources, connected by hyperlinks and URIs (Unified Resource Identifiers).

Using the INTERNET, we can access stored hypertexts and resources. For example, when we use emails or chats with someone online, we use the INTERNET. However, when we search for anything using the search engines like Google, we use the World Wide Web or Web.


Summary

INTERNET (stands for ‘Interconnected Network’) is a connection of a large number of networks. In particular, it is referred to as the network of networks. It has made a life lot easier in several aspects and also has some disadvantages. However, we cannot think of a world without the INTERNET now. 




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Fifth generation of computer: AI & ULSI

The fifth generation of computers is by far the most successful generation of computers. In this generation, there have been significant changes in computer technology that make computers extraordinary. Although the fifth generation is in progress, computers have received several major benefits compared to their predecessors.

Fifth Generation of Computer

This article discusses about the fifth generation of computers, its history, examples, features, advantages, and disadvantages, etc. Let's understand this:

What You Will Learn


What is the fifth generation of Computer?

Instead of VLSI technology used in fourth-generation computers, fifth-generation computers received a major upgrade and VLSI technology was replaced with ULSI (Ultra Large Scale Integration) technology. This revolutionized the development of microprocessors. This helped manufacturers assemble around ten million electronic components on a microprocessor chip.

In addition to ULSI technology, fifth-generation computers were also based on AI (artificial intelligence), which is still in the development stage, and parallel processing hardware. Artificial intelligence is an emerging technology in computer science that primarily helps to make computers more realistic. This means that it enables computers to think like humans; however, there is still room for much improvement.

The period of the fifth generation of computers is considered from 1980 to the present day, which simply means that the fifth generation is the ongoing generation of computers. Nowadays computers are using ULSI circuits, AI software, and parallel processing hardware. The main objective of all these technologies is to introduce technology in computers that can respond to natural languages.

Fifth Generation of Computer - AI


Artificial intelligence is a very broad category in computer science that incorporates various other technologies. Some of the main elements in AI include the following:

Robotics
Neural networking
Natural language understanding and generation
Game playing
Development of advanced systems that can take decisions based on real-life situations

Fifth-generation computers are incorporated with logic programming and massively parallel computing. In terms of programming languages, all high-level languages are used in fifth generation computers. Some of the most common languages are C, C ++, Java, .Net, etc. In addition, multi-threaded and distributed operating systems are used in fifth generation computers, which help in easy multitasking. 

Examples of Fifth Generation Computers

One of the most popular examples of artificial intelligence in computer technology was 'Watson', introduced around 2011 by IBM. It was software running on a computer and was featured as a contestant on the TV show Jeopardy. It was able to answer various questions, yet was based entirely on unstructured data and lacked the ability to think like humans. It eventually led the development to create a new generation of technology.

Nowadays there are many applications based on AI and now it is being combined with computer internal processing and networking systems. For example, the voice recognition feature is a very small type of functionality that works on AI. Siri used in Apple's iPhone and Cortana on Windows computers are some of the software that work on speech recognition. Besides, Google also uses AI to process better search engine results and display ads based on users' interests.

Fifth Generation of the Computer - Laptop

There are many potential applications of artificial intelligence that are included in fifth-generation devices. Some common examples of fifth-generation computers are listed below:

Desktop
Laptop
NoteBook
ChromeBook
UltraBook
Tablet, etc.

Characteristics of Fifth Generation Computers

Some essential characteristics or features of the fifth generation computers are as follows:

Use of ULSI technology
Advancement in true AI-based technology
Improvements in Parallel Processing
Use of Natural language processing
Advanced superconductor techniques
Highly user-friendly interfaces including the multimedia support
Use of Optical fiber in manufacturing circuits
Advancement in storage capacity and speed with HDD and SSD
Advancement in  computer networks and the Internet

Advantages of Fifth Generation Computers

Some of the advantages of the fifth generation of computers are listed below:


Due to the use of AI in fifth generation computers, computers have been able to understand human language and can also recognize pictures of individuals and things.

Fifth-generation computers are very compact in size and can be easily carried from one place to another. Besides, they are also available in various sizes and features.

The speed of computer systems in the fifth generation is much better than the previous generation computers. Also, they are more reliable and accurate.

The user interface in fifth generation computers is very friendly, making them easy to operate.

There is no major heating issue in fifth generation computers.

Computers developed in the fifth generation are more energy-efficient than their predecessors.

Fifth-generation computers are available at a pocket-friendly price and hence they are in widespread use in almost every field.

Almost all high-level programming languages are supported in fifth-generation computers.

Disadvantages of Fifth Generation Computers

Some of the disadvantages of the fifth generation of computers are listed below:


A small amount of heat is generated when fifth generation computers are used extensively.

Due to widespread use of computers in the fifth generation, there is a lot of wastage of computers and their parts which negatively affects the environment.

Computers have replaced humans in various fields due to automation, accuracy, and reliability. This has increased unemployment.

Computers are affecting human health and dulling and ruining the creativity and thinking capacity of the human brain.

Computers can be a threat in many cases as various types of cybercrimes can be committed using computer systems.

Fifth-generation computers are making good use of networks and communications; however, some bad people use this technology to spread wrong and inappropriate information to people.

Summary

The fifth-generation period began in 1980 and is still in progress. Fifth-generation computers are based on a combination of technologies, such as ULSI circuits, AI software, and parallel processing hardware. Although there have been many major improvements in fifth generation computers, there is still much room for upgrades.

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GMAIL Full Form: What is Google Mail?

Gmail is currently a very general term used for communication over the Internet. It has revolutionized the way of communication with a wide range of facilities and ease of access. Gmail enables users to remove the limits of communication and exchange texts and media files digitally. However, the term Gmail is an abbreviation and there is also a full form of Gmail.


In this article, we have briefly covered the most important topics of Gmail, such as the Gmail full form, what is Gmail, a brief history of Gmail,  supported platforms, advantages, and more.

What You Will Learn


What is the full form of GMAIL?

The meaning or full form of GMAIL is "Google Mail". The term 'mail' indicates the digital messages (or files, or both) composed through electronic devices.

Gmail can be seen on most electronic devices around the world. Since the Android platform is also a product of Google, Gmail comes preinstalled in Android devices. In addition, to access the Google Play Store and many other Android-based services, a Gmail ID is mandatory. A single Gmail ID is referred to as 'one for all' Google services.

GMAIL Full Form

The full form of Gmail can be explained as:

G Google
Mail Mail

Let us now talk about what is Gmail:

What is Gmail?

By the definition, “Gmail is defined as the most popular and widely used web-based free email service launched by Google that helps users to exchange digital messages (send and receive email) or media files over the Internet.

Gmail is currently a fully-featured email service with all the necessary services and products. It uses standard email protocols, namely POP, IMAP, and SMTP. Email protocols mainly help users to fetch or download their emails from different servers or clients on different devices and platforms.

Note: Each Gmail account has a unique email ID/address, which follows the structure of 'username@gmail.com'. Here, 'username' denotes the name of the user along with some other characters and 'gmail.com' is a domain name. Additionally, the '@' sign is used to separate the username from the domain name.

Brief History of Gmail

Gmail is developed by Paul Buchheit. It was mainly developed to facilitate communication for those already working at Google. However, it was later released for public use with many new features and integrations over time. Gmail became available for public use on 1 April 2004


Gmail became popular in a short time because it could store several megabytes (specifically 1GB) of messages and data for as long as the user wanted.

Key Advantages of Gmail

Some of the essential advantages of Gmail are discussed below:

Storage

Gmail is the only free email service provider that gives 15 gigabytes (GB) of disk space to each account for personal use. Initially, it offered 1 GB of disk space which was more than enough when compared to its competitors at the time. Furthermore, users can also increase the disk space limit at a very reasonable cost.

Interface

The user interface of Gmail is simple and easy to use. Users with minimal technical knowledge can do basic email tasks on Gmail with ease. They can easily manage their emails between different folders and categories. Additionally, Google keeps rolling out new designs and features for Gmail to simplify its interface to the maximum possible extent.

Security

Gmail has robust security features and filters each email before making it accessible to users. Essential security features of Gmail include spam filtering and virus protection. 

Search

The search feature in Gmail is very handy to find any specific email easily. Users don't have to scroll through hundreds or even thousands of emails. Instead, they can enter any query related to the particular email on the search box and find it instantly.

Language Support

Gmail is currently available in over 105 languages, making it accessible to users of different languages across the world.

Multiple Accesses

Due to the support for multiple protocols, users can also access emails from different clients or service providers directly in Gmail. In addition, one Gmail ID is sufficient to access all the services or products offered by Google. This includes Google Drive, Docs, YouTube, Google Play, etc. 


There are many other benefits of using Gmail. It would not be wrong to say that Gmail has almost innumerable advantages. In addition, new features are also rolled out over time through constant development and upgrades by the developers.

Supported Platforms

Gmail can simultaneously work on different platforms across different devices. Users can access Gmail on the following two platforms:

Web Browsers

The web-based (based on native HTML) version of Gmail is supported in almost all the latest web browsers. In addition, Gmail's advanced interface is also available for use, which is based on AJAX and is supported in most modern browsers.

Google launched an offline version of Gmail in August 2011. It was an HTML-5 powered application that could run through the Google Chrome browser when there was no connectivity with the Internet. The offline version of Gmail can be downloaded from the Chrome Web Store. It saves user's actions while working offline in Gmail and syncs them with Gmail when the system/ device is online.  

Mobile

Gmail also has its own native application for various platforms of mobile and smartphone. Users can directly install the Gmail application on iOS devices, Windows devices, and Android devices.

In addition to the native Gmail application, users can also access Gmail using a web browser on their mobile devices.

Gmail Competitors

Nowadays, many email service providers have emerged. However, Gmail is the most popular email provider amongst all others. It has more than 1.5 billion active users. Gmail is so popular that most users even know the term Email as Gmail. However, they are two different terms.  

The following are some popular competitors of Gmail:


Yahoo! Mail

Yahoo! Mail was released in 1997 by Yahoo, a US-based web provider that was founded in 1994. It was loved by the people and became an instant hit due to its easy user interface and features. In addition, it was made available in about 27 languages, more than its competitors at the time. This contributed in part to the success of Yahoo's webmail service.

Microsoft Outlook

Microsoft Outlook is a popular email client software system from Microsoft, offered as a part of the Microsoft Office package. It originated under the name Hotmail and was developed by Jack Smith and Sabeer Bhatia in 1966. In 1996, it was made available for commercial use.

In 1997, Microsoft acquired Hotmail and rebranded it as MSN Hotmail, which was later renamed as Windows Live Hotmail before final rebranding as Outlook.com in 2012. Outlook.com is a web-based version of Microsoft Outlook with a similar interface.

AOL Mail

AOL Mail is another free web-based email client released in 1993 by AOL, a division of Verizon Communications. The term AOL is stylized as Aol where ‘A’ stands for ‘America’ and ‘ol' stands for 'Online', making it 'America Online'. AOL has a variety of security features similar to Gmail and has support for multiple protocols. The AOL Mail service is available in around 54 languages.

Apart from the above-mentioned email providers, Gmail has many more competitors and even new ones are emerging over time.

Gmail vs Email

The primary difference between Email and Gmail is that Email is a communication method of exchanging electronic messages/data whereas Gmail is the platform through which communication is established for sending and receiving emails.

Few essential differences between Email and Gmail are tabulated below:

Gmail Email
Gmail is an Email client through which electronic communication is made and emails are sent or received. Email is a means of electronic communication and may or may not consist of texts, documents, and media files.
It was first introduced in 2004. It was introduced around 1965-1975 during the ARPANET project.
Gmail displays advertisements and earns profits. Email does not display advertisements.
Gmail allows users to schedule emails. Email does not offer email scheduling.


Summary

Gmail (stands for 'Google Mail') is an email service provider/client that enables users to easily exchange electronic mail with text and media files across various electronic devices over the Internet. Users can access their Gmail accounts with a password and manage them accordingly on different platforms, such as Windows, Android, iOS, etc.




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