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Carol's avatar

Software vs Interactive Internet: Expanding Definitions?

Asked by Carol (731points) February 3rd, 2009

I have a computer game that I just purchased on a disc. The disc is hardware. The game, would be software, right?

What if I have a hardware disc, that guides my computer on how I can play a game with another computer through the internet and that other computer changes its plays depending on what I do on my end. What would you call that? Its something that goes beyond the limits of my interacting with a software program on a disc. Is that still referred to as software? Surely, there is a distinction between the two and word definitions that signify that difference. They’ve both been referred to as programs but that’s a huge umbrella that doesn’t tell us (the royal us) much.

If anyone faintly understands my question, please reply.

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9 Answers

NaturalMineralWater's avatar

The disc is hardware. Whatever is burned onto the disc is software/data. That’s the simplicity of it.. but…. if you wanna get all crazy… into this subject.. then there is a start with the OSI model.

cwilbur's avatar

The disc is not hardware. The disc is a storage medium. Hardware actually has electronic signals running through it—if it has circuitry, it’s hardware. Software is the pattern of information that’s stored on the disc and read into memory (hardware).

What you’re doing is trying to draw a distinction between software that runs locally and software that runs elsewhere. Theoretically, there’s no difference between a program that runs locally on your computer and a program that runs remotely, which is why the word “software” applies to both. Practically, you may want to qualify the word as “web software” or “remote software” or “distributed software.”

smartbob's avatar

A disc or disk or harddrive is a storage medium, something used to store software. Examples of hardware would be the mainboard, videocard, etc…

Carol's avatar

OK, furget about the disc thing.

But with one game, I’m interacting only with the software that’s on the disc. There is no other computer, not is there a person. With the other game, my responses, each nuance of a response from me goes somewhere…to another program or computer over the net. That thing analyzes what I’ve just done and calculates how it should respond back. It sends its responses back to me and so it goes….over and over . There’s a cadence…a feeling to it that I don’t get from just interacting with the information I just downloaded onto my own computer. It feels like a much richer, more dynamic system.

Is there any vocabulary that can signify this distinction?

cwilbur's avatar


There is no qualitative difference between a software system that’s all on one computer and a software system that’s distributed across several.

NaturalMineralWater's avatar

@cwilbur I see you’re one of those technical types (snoring noise)... yes technically it is a storage medium.. you are right.. sort of… i still see a cd as being hardware as it is no different from a hard drive really.. it’s just that the disc is removable .. think about it

cwilbur's avatar

@NaturalMineralWater: I did think about it, and I answered as I did earlier. Insulting me (“one of those technical types”) is unlikely to change my mind, especially as this is a technical question.

An optical disk is different from a hard drive in that the hard drive has circuitry and electronics, and the optical disk does not. This means that the hard drive is hardware, and the optical drive is not. You can think of it any way you care to; some of those ways, however, will be objectively wrong.

NaturalMineralWater's avatar

@cwilbur sorry, didn’t mean to make that sound like an insult.. i always seem to forget that people can’t see my facial expressions when i’m typing lol… it was meant to be whimsical .. I still disagree with your explanation but it really doesn’t matter.. either way the OP had their question answered

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