difference between system and application software
Tech Tutorial

Difference Between System Software and Application Software

While many of us are aware that a computer system is made up of both hardware and software components, it’s important to highlight the difference between system software and application software.

To put it simply, while system software is the fundamental software that allows computer hardware to communicate, application software is designed for the end user to take advantage of the computer for a specific task.

We put together this article to further explain and clarify the differences regarding the question of: What is the difference between system software and application software?

Difference Between System Software And Application Software

Firstly, system software is software that controls the usage of the device’s hardware resources, allowing a user to take advantage of the components. Examples of system software include operating systems, programming compilers, assemblers, debuggers, drivers, communication software, and more. So now you know, when you install Windows or another operating system on a computer, that’s system software.

System software is the fundamental platform of a computer system. Without system software, a computer is just a set of components that are connected but don’t know how to work with each other, so it won’t even run. Low level programming languages such as IBM 360 assembler, PDP-10 assembler, and Intel x86 assembler, are used to write the system software so it’s as efficient as possible.

One thing to note with system software is that it will always be running if the system is on, and turning the system off will always stop the system software.

Users do not generally interact directly with system software. Instead interacting with application software, the activity of the system software is hidden to the user in the background. Thus, system software serves as the interface between application software and the system.

Application Software

Application software, also known as application packages, rely on the device’s hardware and system software and they are typically designed to serve a single purpose for a user. Examples include word processors, image editors, video players, spreadsheet software, etc.

Application software only runs as per the user’s requests and it’s written with high level programming languages such as C, Java, Python, etc.

With application software, the starting point is usually a set of requirements for the user in order to perform the specific task and the software is designed around that.

Unlike system software, multiple pieces of application software can be installed and running on a single OS and you can even store application software on portable storage such as USB flash drives, disks, or portable hard drives. With that being said, application software cannot be used by itself with hardware; it always requires system software to run.

Differences Between Them

The main difference between these two types is that system software is designed for general purpose use of the hardware, while application software is designed for specific purposes.

While system software can be used without any application software, application software requires system software to run. Thus, the system software provides a platform for application software to work from. Furthermore, a system doesn’t need application software to be used, but it does need system software.

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