My boss asked me to change a software installation. He wants to change the word features to components. I'm not sure about the meaning of this change. I've gone ahead and implemented this at his request.

From the merriam-webster.com:

components : one of the parts that make up a whole

features : something that sets apart an individual from others of the same kind

So in software GUI design, when do we use the term components, instead of features?

Is there any standard about how to use these terms in the context of software, similar to this issue?


Select the features for "My software" you would like to install:
  -Package 1
    -Service 1
    -Service 2
    -Service 3
  -Package 2
    -Service 4
    -Service 5
    -Service 6
  • I am not sure I understand this question. Can you please elaborate.
    – Mervin
    Commented Nov 11, 2013 at 9:58
  • 1
    @Mervin : I'm sorry. I updated my answer.
    – Tuan
    Commented Nov 11, 2013 at 10:58

2 Answers 2


A component is a tool, in this case it's a piece of software. Many components and their relationships make a system.

A feature is some functionality, that is what the tool does.

E.g., "My system has a share-to component; it's written in python. Its features include sharing to personbook and whistler."

Typically, you can install a component, as it's a piece of software, but you cannot install a feature, as it's something that software does.


If Mr. X asks about an object Y,

  • What Y is made of --> its components ...
  • What Y can do --> its features ...

For example, take Microsoft Office,


  • Microsoft Word
  • again, it's components:
  • spell-checker,
  • Page designer,
  • Word art etc.
  • Excel
  • it's components:
  • formula editor,
  • Graph editor,
  • Diagram etc.

But, features ?

  • Microsoft Word
  • can detect your spelling mistake
  • you can customize page-design
  • you can draw simple arts etc.
  • Microsoft Excel
  • can detect your formula mistake
  • you can customize the overall sheet design
  • you can create charts from your data etc.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.