Simply put, cow milk formula is created from cow's milk proteins. The most commonly used infant formula, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies start out on this type of formula if breastfeeding is not an option. The reason being that this kind of formula most similar to breastmilk. Though a majority of babies thrive on cow's milk based formula, some infants who cannot handle cow's milk based formula will do better on a different type.
This type of formula can come ready-made or in powder that you would need to mix with water. See also: Water Guidelines for Baby Formula.
Alternatives to Cow Milk Formula
What about generics, DHA, and the like? For more info see: