Computer Software (System Software and Application Software)

Introduction to Software

Computer software can be categorized into two broad categories as system software and application software as shown in figure below:

Categories of Software
Figure: Categories of Software

System software are set of programs which are used to control computer activity and computer hardware. System software also provides platform for application software. Application software are those programs which are designed to perform specific task and application software requires system software for their existence. Relationship among hardware, different software and user is shown in following figure.

Hardware Software and User Relation
Figure: Hardware Software and User Relation

System Software

These are set of computer programs which are required for controlling and managing the hardware resources of a computer system. System software is required for the proper functioning of the computer. System software usually interacts with hardware and provides platform for running application software. In general system software controls overall computer hardware and computer activity at the same time providing service to user.

Different examples of system software are:

  1. Operating System:

    An operating system is collection of computer programs that guides the computer hardware to do different activities under variety of conditions. System software provides common core services required for other software to run. It also performs resource management and provides interface between the user and machine. The basic functions of operating systems are:

    1. Process Management
    2. Memory Management
    3. File Management
    4. Device Management
    5. Security Management
    6. Creating User Interface
  2. Device Drivers:

    Device drivers are set of computer program that controls the operation and functionality of different devices. Computer system is generally associated with different devices such as keyboard, mouse, monitor, printer. Functioning of these device is controlled by device drivers. Each device in the computer system has a device driver associated with it for proper functioning.

    Illustration of Device Drivers
    Figure: Illustration of Device Drivers
  3. Language Translators:

    Since computer understands language consisting 0s and 1s. Language translators are computer programs which translates program written in programming language to machine language consisting sequence of 0s and 1s.

    Programming Language Translators
    Figure: Programming Language Translators
  4. Utility Software:

    Like hardware, software in computer also needs maintenance. Utility software are programs that are used to maintain, support, enhance and secure existing program. Example of utility software includes back up software, antivirus, data recovery software, disk management etc.

Application Software

These are set of computer programs which are designed to perform specific task. Application software needs system software for its existence. User comes in contact with application software to accomplish certain task and system software performs most of the tasks required for application software in background.

Most commonly used application software are:

  1. Word Processors:

    These are used for creating documents such as letters, reports, articles etc. in required format. Example includes Microsoft Word, Word Perfect etc.

  2. Spreadsheets:

    These are used for storing records, simple graphical tools, accounting tools, simple calculations and numerical operations on data. Spreadsheets consists rectangular grids which contains different cells. Example includes Microsoft Excel, Google Spreadsheets etc.

  3. Image Editors:

    These applications are used for manipulation like rotation, cropping, zooming, changing appearance, adjusting contrast etc. on images. Example includes Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, Picasa, Microsoft Paint etc.

  4. Database Management System (DBMS):

    These are used for storing, extraction and manipulation of data. Example includes Microsoft Access, Oracle, MySQL etc.

  5. Web Browsers:

    These are used for accessing world wide web (www). Example includes Google Chrome, Firefox, Microsoft Edge, Torch etc.