What is System Software and Application Software?

Computer software can be divided into two distinct categories. These are system software and application software. What do they mean and what’s the difference between the two? In this article, we are going to analyze the differences between system software and application software.

What is System Software?

System software is a type of software that is designed to communicate with hardware or even application software. It acts as an interface between the hardware and the computer programs whereby it coordinates the tasks between these two components of a computer system.

There are different types of system software. They include the operating system, language processors, and device drivers. A typical system software ensures that the hardware handles its tasks successfully. For instance, an operating system does memory management and file handling for hardware. Drivers control the performance of the monitor and other devices such as printers.

What is Application software?

Application software is the type of software that is designed to accomplish specific tasks within the operating system. Some of these tasks include handling documents, handling calculations, image editing, logo making, and video editing among others.

Example of application software includes word processors, spreadsheets, database software, and image editors among others.

System Software vs Application Software

From the definition, we can now look at the differences between these two types of software.


System Software

Application Software

Usage System software is used to manage and control computer hardware and application software. Application software performs specific tasks depending on how it has been designed. It cannot perform any other task that is beyond its scope.
Installation System software is installed into the computer when the operating system is being installed. Application software is installed only when a user needs them. For instance, you will only install photo editing software when you want to edit some photos.
Execution time System software will start running once you turn your computer on. It will continue running until the time that you will turn off your computer. Application software will run only when required to do so. You will start a word processor when you need to open or prepare some documents.
Abstraction From a general point of view, the user does not interact with system software. This is because the software works in the background. For application software, the user will have direct interaction with the software. In fact, the user controls how the software operates.
Dependency System software runs independently. Its operation does not depend on the behavior of other software. Instead, it is the one that provides conditions for other software to run effectively. Application software cannot run independently. They depend on the conditions that are provided by the operating system.
Complexity Programming system software is quite complex. This is because it requires a programmer to have full knowledge of the underlying system hardware and low-level languages. The programming of application software is not that complex. A programmer only needs to have knowledge of the underlying system software and high level-languages

From this comparison, it is clear there are clear differences between system software and application software. However, it is prudent to know that both of them interact with each other to achieve different goals.

Most businesses face various challenges simultaneously, so creating multi-purpose software that makes processes of different departments interact to shape efficient workflows is crucial. For this reason, custom software development starts with identifying and navigating these challenges to create a productive environment for all staff involved. Businesses interacting with customers often may lead to creating both system and application software that exchanges information.