Difference Between System Software and Application Software

Difference Between System Software and Application Software

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Anshuman Singh
Senior Executive - Content
Updated on Feb 9, 2024 16:36 IST

Software’s are set of program, procedure, and routine that tells computer what to do. They are broadly classified into system software and application software. In this article, we will discuss what is the difference between system software and application software.


The software enables computers to perform tasks and meet users’ needs. It is a set of programs, procedures, and routines that tell a computer what to do. It is of two types, namely system software and application software. Both enable the computer to perform certain tasks. They also allow the users to interact with the system. However they differ in terms of their design, purpose, and functionality. Let us understand each of these in detail and dive into the difference between system and application software.

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Table of Contents (TOC)

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Difference Between System Software and Application Software

Aspect System Software Application Software
Purpose Manages and controls computer hardware and resources Performs specific tasks for end users
Design General-purpose software Specific-purpose software
Interaction Interfaces between hardware and application software Interfaces between system software and end users
Examples Operating systems, device drivers, utility programs Web browsers, word processors, spreadsheet software
Functionality Enables application programs to run and interact correctly Performs specialized tasks such as data organization
Programming Language Typically written in low-level languages Usually written in high-level languages
Size Smaller in size compared to application software Bigger in size due to its specific functionalities
Speed Fast operating speed May have varying speeds depending on the specific task
User Interaction Less interactive with end users More interactive with end users
Importance for Computer Essential for the computer to function correctly Enhances the computer’s usefulness but not essential

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What is System Software?

System software acts as the computer hardware and application software interface. It is a set of programs that control and manage the resources and operations of computer hardware. It also enables application programs to run correctly. The system software is not meant to perform a specific task; thus, it is called general-purpose software.

A computer system cannot run without system software. System software enables the computer system to understand the end user’s command. The end-user usually does not directly communicate with the system software; instead, the user interacts with the user interface created by the system software.

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Types of System Software

Some of the system software examples include:

  • Operating Systems (OS): The operating system is the core system software that manages and coordinates hardware resources, provides a user interface, and enables the communication between software applications and computer hardware. Examples include Windows, macOS, Linux, and Unix.
  • Device Drivers: Device drivers are software components facilitating communication between the operating system and specific hardware devices. They enable the operating system to recognize and interact with devices such as printers, graphics cards, and network adapters.
  • Firmware: Firmware resides on programmable hardware devices and provides low-level control and functionality. It is typically embedded within computer motherboards, routers, and digital cameras. Firmware allows these devices to operate and interact with the system software effectively.
  • BIOS/UEFI: The Basic Input/Output System (BIOS) or Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) is responsible for initializing and configuring hardware during the boot-up process. It provides essential functions for the computer system to start up and prepares it for the operating system to take over.
  • Virtualization Software: Virtualization software enables the creation and management of virtual machines, allowing multiple operating systems to run simultaneously on a single physical computer. This technology is widely used in server environments to optimize resource utilization.
  • System Libraries: System libraries are collections of pre-compiled code and functions that provide reusable programming routines. They simplify software development by offering ready-made solutions for common tasks, such as handling input/output operations, networking, and graphical user interfaces. 
  • Utility Programs: Utility programs offer a range of tools to optimize system performance, manage files and folders, secure the system, and perform maintenance tasks. Examples include antivirus software, disk defragmenters, system optimizers, and backup utilities.

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Features of System Software

Some of the notable features of system software are:

  • It is closer to the computer system and hardware
  • Typically written in a low-level programming language
  • Hard to design
  • Fast operating speed
  • Smaller in size
  • Difficult to manage, understand, and manipulate
  • Less interactive

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What is an Application Software?

Application software is a program that performs a specific task for the end user. It runs on the platform provided by system software. It acts as a platform between the system software and the end user.

While the application software is not essential for running a computer, it makes it more useful. It is a specific-purpose software.

  • Web browsers: It enables easy surfing of the internet.
  • Word-processing software: It enables us to create, modify, view, store, and print documents.
  • Spreadsheet software: Represents data in tabular form and allows easy calculations using formulas and functions.
  • Database software: Helps us effectively organize, manage, and access data.
  • Graphics software: Facilitates easy editing of visual data.
  • Education software: Enables us to use a computer system teaching and learning tool.
  • Entertainment software: Enables us to use a computer as an entertainment tool.

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Examples of Application Software

Some application software examples are:

  • Word Processing Software: Word processing software allows users to create, edit, format, and print documents. It provides tools for text manipulation, spell-checking, and document formatting. Popular examples include Microsoft Word, Google Docs, and Apple Pages.
  • Spreadsheet Software: Spreadsheet software enables users to organize, analyze, and manipulate data in tabular form. It offers functions, formulas, and features for data calculations, graphing, and visualization. Microsoft Excel, Google Sheets, and Apple Numbers are popular spreadsheet software options.
  • Presentation Software: Presentation software facilitates the creation of multimedia slideshows for professional or educational purposes. It allows users to design visually appealing slides, add text, images, videos, and animations, and deliver engaging presentations. Examples include Microsoft PowerPoint, Google Slides, and Apple Keynote.
  • Web Browsers: Web browsers are applications that enable users to access and navigate websites on the internet. They interpret and display web pages, allowing users to browse and interact with online content. Popular web browsers include Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Microsoft Edge.
  • Graphic Design Software: Graphic design software provides tools and features for creating and editing visual content, such as images, illustrations, and layouts. Professionals and enthusiasts use these applications for digital art, image editing, and desktop publishing. Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, and CorelDRAW are widely used graphic design software.
  • Multimedia Software: Multimedia software encompasses applications for creating, editing, and playing multimedia content, including audio, video, and images. This software allows users to manipulate media files, edit videos, create music, and manage digital libraries. Examples include Adobe Premiere Pro, VLC Media Player, and iTunes.

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Features of Application Software

Some of the key features of application software include:

  • Written in a high-level programming language
  • Easy to design
  • More interactive
  • Bigger in size
  • Performs specialized tasks such as photo editing, word processing
  • It needs more storage space because of its size


This article taught us the main differences between systems software and application software. They have different designs, purposes, and functionality. System software interfaces the application software and the computer’s hardware. It manages the computer resources and enables the computer to function smoothly.

On the other hand, the application software serves as an interface between the system software and the end user. It is user-specific and helps the users to manage and perform their specific tasks.


Distinguish between system software and application software.

The system software manages the computer system resources. It also acts as a platform to run application software. On the other hand Application software is installed according to the useru2019s requirements to perform a specific task.

Are system software and application software interdependent?

System software does not depend on application software. It can work independently. Application software depends on system software to function properly.

What are the functions of application software?

The functions of application software include managing information, calculating figures, and manipulating data. It also helps in creating visuals and coordinating resources.

What are the functions of System Software?

Some of the important functions of system software are memory management, loading, execution, device control, and disk management.

Is an operating system a system software?

Yes, the operating system is system software. It manages the computer hardware and software resources and enables users to interact with the system.

What are the features of Application Software?

Features of Application Software: 1. Easy to design 2. More interactive for users 3. Written in High-Level Language

What are the features of System Software?

Features of System Software: 1. Fast in Speed 2. Less Interactive 3. Smaller in Size 4. Hard to manipulate

What is System Software?

System software is a type of computer program which is designed to run system software as well as hardware. In simple terms, it is a program that allows a computer system to operate.

What are the different types of Computer Software?

There are 16 different types of computer software's are, but Operating Systems, Device Driver, Firmware, Programming Language Translator, and Utilities are 5 common types of system software.

About the Author
Anshuman Singh
Senior Executive - Content

Anshuman Singh is an accomplished content writer with over three years of experience specializing in cybersecurity, cloud computing, networking, and software testing. Known for his clear, concise, and informative wr... Read Full Bio