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What is the difference between hardware and software?

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Quick Answer

Hardware is the computer’s physical parts that can be seen and touched, while software is the operating system and applications consisting of coded instructions enabling the computer to perform complex tasks. Hardware components include a processor, a monitor, memory, a keyboard, a mouse or track pad and a hard drive.

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Full Answer

Sound and video cards, peripheral drives, cameras and gaming input devices are also hardware components. Operating system software, such as Window Vista and Mac OSX, form the invisible brain of the computer. Software applications, such as Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint, are stored in the computer’s memory. They perform specific tasks, such as word processing, accounting and record keeping. Applications, such as Firefox, Safari and Chrome, allow users to browse the Internet.

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