Third-party applications are programs written to run on operating systems, but are written by individuals or companies other than the operating system provider. For example, Microsoft® systems come packaged with various software applications. Of these, any program created by Microsoft is a genuine application. Any program authored by a different company or individual is a third-party application; the same goes for Apple™ and Linux™ systems. In this equation, the second part is the user.
As third-party applications increase the capabilities of electronic devices, most manufacturers make their electronic devices compatible with them.
Third-party applications can be standalone programs or small plug-ins that add functionality to an existing parent program. The first category is infinite. On a typical system, third-party standalone applications include dozens of dozens of programs. Browsers such as Opera, Safari® and Firefox®; and email clients like Thunderbird®, The Bat! and Pegasus are some examples of popular standalone third-party applications. Most antivirus programs, firewalls, multimedia programs – virtually any program not written by Microsoft®, Apple® or Linux, but designed to work on those systems – fall into this category.
Microsoft® and Apple® do not make the source code of their proprietary operating systems publicly available, limiting the ability of third parties to write a plug-in or add-on.
In some cases, Windows® operating system users find it safer to use standalone third-party applications for tasks such as email, newsgroups, web browsing, and Internet Relay Chat (IRC). Microsoft® applications have traditionally been the target of the vast majority of hackers, viruses, Trojans and other security threats. By using a third-party application, theoretically decreases the degree of potential vulnerability.
A different type of third-party application provides additional functionality to a main program. These types of third-party applications are called plug-ins or add-ons. The existing parent program can be a third-party or third-party application. Examples include encryption plug-ins for email applications, multimedia plug-ins for web browsers for watching movies or viewing Flash content, or plug-ins that read certain types of files, such as the Adobe® plug-in Acrobat® used for. PDF files.
While plug-ins and add-ons are available for proprietary applications, the vast majority are written for open source software. Microsoft® and Apple® do not make the source code of their proprietary operating systems publicly available, limiting the ability of third parties to write a plug-in or add-on. Most third-party apps are also proprietary, keeping the source code a secret from the company.
However, there are many third-party applications that are open source and this category of software is growing. The Firefox® browser and the Thunderbird® email client are just two examples of very popular open source third-party applications. In part, this is due to the ever-growing catalog of useful add-ons and plug-ins that are freely available for these programs. Original open source applications are rare, with Linux operating systems creating the exception.
Encryption plugins for email apps are a type of third-party app.