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Application and System Software

Updated on June 5, 2011

Introduction

The terms "applications software" and "system software" are used a lot but the terms are often confused. Here are my definitions.

Application Software

Application software is responsible for the business requirements of an organisation. Often, application software is written specifically for the organisation, particularly in the case of large organisations. However, off-the-shelf application software is available too. Examples of application software include:

  • A company payroll system.
  • A lending library catalogue system.
  • An online gambling system.

System Software

System software supports other software. It provides commonly required facilities such as file copying and device access. Given that many applications run in a multiprocessing environment, it also includes resource sharing and protection.
System software includes:

  • Development tools such as assemblers and compilers.
  • Utilities such as editors, backup programs and file management programs.
  • Operating system software such as drivers, protocol stacks and schedulers.

Typically, system software is written for the hardware in which it runs and the software is available for all applications that run on that hardware.

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