Difference between System and Application Software

Difference between System and Application Software

The term “Software” is basically a generic term used to refer to computer programs. Computer software is a set of instructions, procedures, or programs that instruct the computer to perform tasks and meet user’s needs. In general, scripts, programs, applications, and a set of instructions are all terms often used to define software. A software eliminates human errors, bringing efficiency, productivity, innovation, and collaboration to tasks.

Based on the language in which the software is developed and the platform required for its execution, software is of two categories: System Software and Application Software. Both allow user interaction with the system and enable the computer to perform certain tasks. However, they differ in terms of their functioning, purpose, and design. 

System software is a set of programs that control and monitor the computer hardware and provide essential functionality to the computer. While application software is developed to perform specific tasks for the end-users. Without system software, the system can not run, whereas on the other hand without application software, the low-level maintenance system always runs.

The main difference is that System software serves as the interface between the application software and system hardware. Whereas, the application software acts as an interface between the system software and the end-user. Let us understand each of these in detail to find out more about System Software and Application Software and how they are different from each other.

System Software

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

It is rеsponsiblе for allocating systеm rеsourcеs to ensure that thе hardware and software componеnts function propеrly. It consists of programs written in low-level languagеs. System softwarе serves as thе intеrfacе bеtwееn the hardware and thе еnd usеrs, allowing thеm to usе various applications and programs. Systеm softwarе is еvеrything for your computеr, and without it, your systеm cannot run.

Types of System Software

  • Operating systems: The operating system manages all the hardware and software resources of the computer. It enables communication between software applications and computer hardware. E.g. MacOS, Linux, Windows, etc.

  • Device drivers: They are software components that facilitate communication between operating systems and specific hardware devices like printers, scanners, mouse, keyboard, etc.

  • Utility programs: Utility programs perform various tasks likе virus dеtеction, sеarching and arranging filеs, data rеcovеry, installation and uninstallation, clеaning of unnеcеssary filеs, еtc.

  • Firmware: Firmware is installed on computer motherboards and routers. The main purpose of firmware is to manage and control all of a device’s actions.

  • Language Processor: It converts the source code into machine code and instructions that are easily readable by machines. Compiler, Interpreter, and Assembler are different types of language processors.

Functions of System Software

The most important functions of system software are:

  • The operating system manages the primary memory and allocates a memory when a process requires it.
  • It allocates the process to the main memory as per priority and de-allocates when no more is needed.
  • System software prevents unauthorized access and protects data from vulnerabilities. 
  • It produces traces, error messages, other debugging and error-detecting methods.
  • Through schedule algorithms, the OS schedules processes.

Application Software

The term “application software” refers to software that performs a specific task for the end-user. Such applications contain either a single program code or collection of programs. These application softwares serves as an interface between system software and end-users. The sole purpose of application software is to help the user in completing specific tasks. These software offer the required functionality for a specific purpose. Users use these software to accomplish a specific task, thus it is called a specific-purpose software.

Types of application software

  • Word processors: It enables users to format and beautify text using fonts, colors and styles. It also checks for grammar and spellings. E.g; MS-Word, Google Docs.
  • Spreadsheets: These software represents data in a tabular format easy for calculations using formulas and functions. E.g; MS-Excel, Google sheets.
  • Multimedia: This software allows users to record and create audio, images, animations, graphics and video files. VLC player, MX Player, and Windows Media Player are three popular examples of multimedia application softwares.
  • Presentation software: Presentation software allows users to make slides interactive and informative by adding texts, videos, images, charts, graphs and images that support their presentation. 
  • Web browsers: A web browser or an internet browser is an application software for browsing over the internet. It retrieves information across the web and displays the content on the user’s desktop or mobile device. Google chrome, Mozilla Firefox are popular web browsers.

Functions of Application Software

  • Most application softwarе provide a usеr-friеndly intеrfacе for usеrs to interact with thе program. 
  • Managing information and data in an organization. 
  • Usеrs can often customize thе interface to suit their prеfеrеncеs, such as changing thеmеs, layouts, or sеttings. 
  • Dеvеlopmеnt of visuals, imagеs and vidеo for presentation purposes
  • Emails, tеxt mеssaging, audio and video conferencing needed in prеsеntation. 
  • Managing and chеcking documеnts across. 
  • Payroll, financе, and accounting management supporting othеr businеssеs and thе HR department. 
  • Softwarе for еducation purposеs. 
  • Projеct managеmеnt and business process management.

Differences between System and Application Software

System SoftwareApplication Software
System software is a set of computer instructions designed to maintain system resources.  Application software is developed for performing specific tasks for end-users.  
It acts as an interface between system hardware and application software.It acts as an interface between system software and the end-user.
It is a general-purpose software.It is a specific-purpose software.
It consists of programs written in low-level languages.It is usually developed using high-level languages like C, C++, Java etc.
Without system software, a computer cannot run.It is usually developed using high-level languages like C, C++, Java, etc.
When the system is turned on, system software runs and stops when the system is turned off.Application software is not essential for computer operations. It is installed only when a user requires it.
It runs independently.It runs on the platform provided by system software.
System software is installed during the initial setup of a computer,Application software is installed separately based on user needs.
It works in the background and is specific to system hardware, so users cannot directly interact with them.Users interact directly with application software through the user interface(UI).
Smaller in size.It needs more storage because of its size.
System software updates are typically managed by the operating system.Application software updates are often released by the software developers.


Software is significant because it has the power to control how we use our devices. Nowadays, with the amazing progress of software,even the most difficult jobs can be completed with simple data entry. Software are of two types- system software and application software. They differ in designs, purposes, and functionality.

In this article, we learned the key distinctions between systems software and application software. System software manages the computer resources and enables the computer to function efficiently. On the other hand, the application software is user-specific and helps the users to perform their specific tasks. In conclusion, when selecting and utilizing software for your needs, take your time to explore your options, conduct research, and make informed decisions. The right software can enhance your efficiency, creativity, and overall well-being, while the wrong choice can lead to frustration and inefficiency. 

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