Standards refer to conventions and rules, usually defined by a responsible organisation.
In computing, there are various types of standards in relation to software and hardware:
Proprietary standards: these are standards owned by a company (such as Apple’s lightning port which is exclusively owned and implicated on Apple products). They ensure compatibility between all of the company’s products so that they all feel and look familiar to that particular company and work in a known manner
Industry standards: these are agreed upon standards across the computing industry which allow a lot of hardware to be compatible and are recognised by everyone. An example of this is the USB port in which companies do not have to pay for the rights to access and use this standard but it allows various products to be compatible it is used throughout the industry.
De facto standards: these are standards that are the most commonly used by the market, becoming often the most-popular and heavily used. These are unofficial but due to their widespread usage become the primary choice for many consumers. An example of this is the QWERTY keyboard. It isn’t a de jure standard but is preferable for use by many; less popular alternatives such as non-QWERTY keyboards like the "ABC" or "dvorak" keyboard exist, but are less favourable due to their lack us usage.
De jure standards: de jure- meaning ’by-law’- are de-facto standards that have become so popular that they have been universally accepted and adhered to or otherwise the product will not work. A key example of this is HTML which started as a de-facto standard for creating websites however due to its global use it became a standard that is impossible not to use.
Open standards: these are standards that are publically available and aren't dominated by any one interest group as they are usually available for free of charge or at a minimal cost. They are also sufficiently documented so that other developers can use them easily. This ensures that resources are not dependent on a particular hardware platform or a single application. In addition, the source code is in the public domain so that anyone with experience and time can make changes; examples include HTTP, HTML, TCP/IP and SQL.
Advantages of standards:
Allows for compatibility between devices that use the same standards.
Following a standard minimises risk for the company as they know their equipment will work with other producers.
They provide a known level of quality.
Can save money in the development stage because there is no need to research and develop other methods.
Disadvantages of standards:
A de-facto standard comes about usually by one dominant company in a sector setting out what they want to do so the de-facto standard may not be the best technical solution and may cause problems.
It can take years for the de-jure standards to be agreed upon through various committees and organisation.
The standards can quickly come out of date and it takes a lot of time to update them.