A software program is commonly defined as a set of instructions, or a set of modules or procedures, that allow for a certain type of computer operation. The term is also often used interchangeably with terms like “software application” and “software product.”
Although the terminology around a software program is somewhat vague, there are some guidelines for when people usually use the word “program” in relation to software. For example, in contrasting the use of the term “software program” with “software application,” it becomes clear that a software program is implicitly smaller in scope and often more basic.
Most people use the word “program” to refer to a set of instructions that is used without installation or extensive architecture. Another way to think about this is that the term “software program” was used more commonly during the early days of computing to refer to the different types of software products that were made for specific platforms or systems and consisted mostly of computing instructions. Over time, the software program became an “executable” and then an “application.” Nowadays, the word “application” or the abbreviation “app” has largely taken over to describe more sophisticated software products that can run on different systems and have a lot of tools such as application programming interfaces that must be in place to allow for versatile use.