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What Is The Difference Between System Software and Application Software?

By Mahinur Meem -- Tuesday, 18 May, 2021
Differences between system and application software

We know that software is a set of instructions that tells a computer what to do. It contains programs, procedures, and routines to interact with computer hardware. Fundamentally, we can categorize software into two types. They are system software and application software. First of all, the main difference between system software and application software is that the system software is designed to manage the hardware resources, and application software fulfills the end-users requirements. 

In this blog, you will learn about more differences between system and application software. So, let’s start!   

What Is System Software?

The system software is basically a set of programs that control and manage the hardware and provides an interface to run the application software. It’s a media that connects users with the computer. However, users do not interact with the system directly. But they can interact using the GUI provided by the system software itself. The system software automatically runs on a computer system; it does not need anyone to continue their job.   

The system software is built with a low-level language. The main task of this software is to control the system resources, including memory, processing, and security.    

Examples of System Software

The most typical example of system software is the operating system. Windows, Linux, Android, macOS, etc., are the system software. Besides the OS, device drivers, BIOS, machine language translators, etc., are examples of System Software. 

Types of System Software

According to work, we can categorize System software into some types.

Operating Systems: operating system or OS is system software that controls all the software resources and interacts with the hardware. 

Language Translator: this type of system software is used for translating high-level programming languages into low-level machine languages. 

Utility software: utility software is the software that optimizes, maintains, and controls computer resources. Antivirus software, backup software, etc. are the example of utility software.     

Characteristics of System Software

  • Written in a low-level language
  • Fastest software execution
  • Difficult to design and understand
  • Not interactive with users
  • Create an interface between hardware and application software
  • Small in size

What Is Application Software?

Application Software is the set of programs that runs as per the user’s command to solve a specific task. Unlike the system software, users can directly interact with the application software. Users can install the software manually into their system but can not run them on a computer if the system software doesn’t allow it. 

Basically, Application software is written in a high-level language like C, C++. Java, PHP, etc. So, it’s easy to develop and maintain this type of software. The major purpose of this software is to make the system more controllable to the user and meet their particular needs.      

Examples of Application Software

As an end-user, most of the software we handle is an example of application software. This includes web browsers, gaming applications, media players, editing software, and many more. 

Types of Application Software

As the area of application software is vast, we can break them down into some types. But the fact is, there are hundreds of categories available for this software. So, in the following segment, we only mention the most used ones. 

Web browser: the browsers we use every day, such as Chrome, Firefox, Safari, etc., are application software. 

Gaming software: Need for Speed, Minecraft, Vice City, and millions of other games are also types of application software.

Database software: Database software is mainly used by mid to big-scaled institutions to save and maintain their data.

Management software: management software is also used by medium to large corporations to handle their everyday tasks. 

Graphics software: this type of software is used for creating and editing photos and videos.

Media player: MX player, VLC player, etc. are the example of media player software. We use them to execute media files on our devices.        

Characteristics of Application Software

  • Written in high-level programing language
  • Most of the time needs huge memory to install
  • Easy to develop
  • made for end-users
  • Create an interface between users and the system
  • It can’t run without a user interaction 
  • Slower execution compared to the system software

Comparison Between System Software and Application Software

By the time you learn about the definition, example, and characteristics of both system and application software. Now, check out the following table to find out the differences between system software and application software. 

System Software

Application Software 

System software handles the hardware and system resources.  

Application software handles user’s requests and executes specific tasks. 

System software works as a background of a system  

Application software works as a front-end of a system

It doesn’t need user interactions

It can’t run without user involvement  

Written in a low-level language

Written in a high-level language

Install automatically with the operating system 

Users have to download and install the software manually.

System software is not dependent. 

Application software is dependent on system software.

A system can’t run without system software

A system can run without Application software

System software is hard to develop

Application software is easier to develop

It starts automatically when the system turns on

It doesn’t start unless a user clicks on it

Is there any software that works as both System software and Application software? 

Some project management software works as both system software and application software. Basically, project management software works to handle an overall project from planning to resource allocation and maintain the stakeholders. Software like Isshue and Bhojon can be installed on a computer like application software. Similarly, you can connect the software directly to a specialized computer and use it as system software.  


Since we talk about all the basics, we hope you have understood the differences between system software and application software. The fact is, both of the software are made for the end-users, but their approaches are different. System software does its job backstage, and application software covers the front-end. However, nowadays, you can find software that works as both.

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