Difference between System Software and Application Software

Key Difference: System software refers to the program that coordinates the tasks of hardware and programs. Thus, it is directly related to computer hardware. On the other hand, application software refers to programs that assist a user to carry out a specific task.

Software is a key term that is often used in the field of computers. Software or programs are instruction codes. Basically, there are two types of software – system and application. System software is the one that coordinates the activities and tasks of the hardware as well as various programs related to the computer system. This kind of software package is designed in a way so that it suits a particular CPU design and class of hardware. System Software performs functions like:

  • File Editing
  • Resource Accounting
  • I/O Management
  • Storage, Memory Management, and Access Management

It is responsible for managing computer resources at a low level. It comprises of the operating system and all utility programs involved in the basic level. In precise terms, system software includes the "background" programs that allow one to use a computer. 

On the other hand, application software deals with the specific tasks for the user. These are created to solve various types of computing problems. Application software includes packaged software like word processing, programming languages such as BASIC, COBOL, C, Visual Basic, and other commercial and custom software. It is important to mention that the system software manages and controls the execution of the application software. It also provides supportive functions to the application software. There are various types of application software like:

  • Proprietary – these are designed to solve a particular problem.
  • In-house – these are developed by using the resources of the company itself.
  • Contract – these are developed for some other company
  • Off-the-shelf – these are used in their original forms without making any considerable changes.

Comparison between System Software and Application Software:

 

System Software

Application Software

Definition

System software refers to the program that coordinates the tasks of hardware and programs. Thus, it is directly related to the computer hardware.

On the other hand, application software refers to programs that assist a user to carry out a specific task.

 

Type of purpose

General

Specific

Classification

Package Program

Customized Program

Time sharing

Resource sharing

Client server

Execution

Throughout

According to the requirement

Example

Compilers, debuggers

Word processors, media players, spreadsheet programs

Workgroup support

Network operating systems

Electronic mail, group scheduling, shared work

Dependence

They are independent of the application software

They cannot run without the presence of system software.

Image Courtesy: depts.alverno.edu, csbapp.uncw.edu

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