The software sector is starting to heat up in a serious way, and many market participants are missing out on the action.

Jim Cramer brought attention to the under-the-radar move in the sector on Thursday's "Stop Trading!" segment on


. Cramer told viewers that the

software stocks are exploding here,

and you don't hear a word about them. He mentioned that names such as


(ORCL) - Get Report



(MSFT) - Get Report


(CRM) - Get Report

are starting to get very active to the upside.

The big names in the space such as Microsoft and Oracle aren't the only ones that are starting to advance. Just take a look at the action in smaller-cap companies such as

Merge Healthcare


, up 195% on the year, or


(LPSN) - Get Report

, up 91%. This clearly demonstrates that investors are bargain-hunting in many of the beaten-down names and finding value as the big and small companies are being bid up to higher prices.

The software complex is also starting to heat up from an M&A standpoint. Data-storage giant and software maker



is battling it out with competitor


(NTAP) - Get Report

to buy storage appliance and software firm

Data Domain


for at least $1.8 billion. Just last week,


(INTC) - Get Report

said it would buy testing and development software maker

Wind River Systems


for $884 million.

There are even rumors that


(DELL) - Get Report

is actively looking to do some deals to expand its portfolio in storage-related hardware, software and services. Like many large-cap tech companies, Dell is sitting on billions in cash that could be best put to work by buying up cheaper tech companies at depressed levels. Some rumors have Dell looking to buy out



and some other potential targets include







Considering the M&A activity and the positive price action in the software sector, how should investors look to play this space? Let's take a look at a few software stocks that look enticing based off of their charts.

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