What is System Software: Features and Components

What is System Software: Features and Components

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Jaya Sharma
Assistant Manager - Content
Updated on Jun 28, 2024 18:04 IST

System software is one of the two major types of software. It helps in generating user interface and allowing operating system to interact with the hardware of the computer.


In this article on ‘what is system software’, we will be discussing this software type along with its features and components.

Table of Contents

What is System Software?

System software is a type of software that is designed for providing a platform to other software. It runs a computer’s application program and hardware of the system. This software acts as an interface as between user applications and hardware. An operating system is an example of system software. System software consists of programs that are written in low-level languages that are used for interacting with hardware at a basic level. 

It is one of the most important types of software required for administering resources of computer systems. Such software runs and functions internally with hardware and application software. It runs in the background and manages every function of the computer itself. Since it runs at the basic computer level, the system software is written in a low-level language; therefore, it is known as low-level software.

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Characteristics of System Software

The following are the characteristics of these systems:

  • Such systems must be efficient in nature to provide a platform for running high-level language in computers. 
  • These should be written in CPU and hardware-readable programming languages.
  • A system software must have the ability to commute with both specialized hardware and higher-level application software. This application software must have no direct connection with the hardware on which it runs. 
  • They should support other programs as these depend on system software during evolutions. 
  • System software is difficult to manipulate since it uses a programming language that is difficult to use as compared to an intuitive User Interface.
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Types of System Software

The system software has the following components:

1. Operating System

It is a type of software that is responsible for managing software resources, hardware, and common services for computer programs. The operating system is an intermediary between programs and computer hardware for hardware functions such as memory allocation and input-output. There are different types of operating systems. These include single and multi-user, distributed, embedded, real-time, single-time, and multitasking.

2. Server

It is a type of computer software that offers functionality for other programs called ‘clients’. The architecture of a server is known as client-server network. Servers provide several functionalities called services, such as sharing resources and data among multiple clients. A single server serves multiple clients, and a single client serves multiple servers.   

3. Programming Language Translators

These programs convert code written in one programing language into another. Such translators are useful when you want to run the code written in one programming language onto a machine that understands another language. It converts the code from an older language into a new one to keep the code updated. These are of two types: compiler and interpreter.

3.1 Compiler

Compiler is a system software that is used for the translation of computer codes from source programming language to target language. It translates human-readable code into binary language of 0s and 1s for computers to understand this language and accordingly take actions. It aims to increase the efficiency of the target code and optimize in terms of space and time. 

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3.2 Interpreter

This software is directly executed. It performs instructions written in a scripting or programming language. It does not require the program to be previously compiled into a machine language program. It translates high-level instructions into an intermediate form, and then it executes them. 

It is a fast system software since an interpreter does not require going through the compilation stage during which machine instructions are generated. An interpreter continuously translates the program till the time an error is found. Whenever an error is detected, the interpreter stops executing. This allows easy debugging. 

4. Firmware 

This is a system software embedded within the hardware device. It controls the device and performs functions that are essential for the computer system. Firmware is stored in ROM due to which it cannot be modified or deleted. In some devices, firmware can be updated using updates from USB or the manufacturer’s device. 

It is a specific type of software that allows low-level control for device hardware. Firmware such as BIOS also consists of the basic functions of a device. They also provide hardware abstraction services to higher-level software such as operating systems. It is a non-volatile type of memory in computer. Some are permanently installed and cannot be altered after manufacture.

Components of System Software?

Different components of system software work together to ensure computers run efficiently, and support user applications. This enables effective communication between software and hardware.

  • Operating System (OS): Manages hardware resources, provides a user interface, and facilitates communication between hardware and software.
  • Device Drivers: Enable communication between peripheral devices (like printers or keyboards) and the computer's operating system.
  • Utilities: Tools that help manage, maintain, and optimize the computer system, such as disk cleaners, antivirus programs, and backup software.
  • Programming Languages: Compiler and interpreter software that converts programming code into machine-readable language for execution.
  • Middleware: Software that bridges communication between different applications and facilitates distributed computing.


In summary, system software is essential for computers to work smoothly by managing resources and keeping everything secure. As technology advances, improving system software ensures better performance and user experiences. It serves as the backbone of modern computing, enabling seamless interaction between hardware and user applications.


What is system software?

System software is a type of computer program that is designed to help manage and operate a computer system. It includes software that controls the hardware, manages memory and storage, and provides a platform for running other applications.

What are some examples of system software?

Some examples of system software include operating systems like Windows, macOS, and Linux, as well as device drivers, firmware, and utility programs that help optimize and maintain the computer system.

Why is system software important?

System software is important because it provides the foundational infrastructure for a computer system to function properly. Without system software, the computer's hardware would be unable to communicate with each other or run other software applications.

How is system software different from application software?

System software is different from application software in that it is designed to manage and operate the computer system, while application software is designed to perform specific tasks for the user. Application software includes programs like web browsers, productivity suites, and games.

About the Author
Jaya Sharma
Assistant Manager - Content

Jaya is a writer with an experience of over 5 years in content creation and marketing. Her writing style is versatile since she likes to write as per the requirement of the domain. She has worked on Technology, Fina... Read Full Bio