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System software

Updated on April 21, 2016

system software is an umbrella name for the set of software that is used to help manage the computer. They provide the environment for the running of the application software. As the name suggests, the system software is a name that is used to refer to all programs written for the computer system so as to achieve a smooth functioning of the system. it also includes all utility programs. system software is the background software that acts as an interface between the application programs and the I/O, and processing devices. in the early days of computing, the user did these functions physically. some example of system software include operating system, translator programs like language compilers and interpreters, utility programs, communications programs, bootstrap loader e.t.c. we treat some of them as follows.

Operating System : The operating system is the fundamental of all the programs known as system software. It controls and manages the computer system resources (I/O operation) and provides the basis upon which application programs can be written. in fact, the operating system is regarded as the manager of the system, controlling and sequencing all the operations going on in the system. The operating system is an intermediary between the users application program and the computer hardware. for example, when the user's application program specifies an input/output operation, the operating system call upon one of its routines to activate the necessary device to either transmit or accept data into memory. The user is by this means shielded from highly technical aspect of computing thus making it possible for non-computer people to use the computer. This wasn't the case in the early days of computing. in addition to controlling input/output operations, the operating system manages the computer memory for optimum use, and programs execution control.

DOS : DOS Stands for disk operating system. Developed by Microsoft corporation, it is marketed under the name Ms-DOS meaning Microsoft Disk operating system. There have been several upgrades or versions of Ms-DOS since it was first introduced in 1981. it came as DOS version 1.0. Today we talk of Ms-DOS version 8.2 having gone through up to 13 versions. An important characteristic of the newer versions is that they can run applications that were written to run onthe older versions. The newest version permits the use of mouse for the pull down menus.

Microsoft Windows

Microsoft in 1910 releases its first windows. it was actually an add-on product not an operating system. This first windows was merely an operating environment a layer over the Ms-Dos, interfacing applications software with the operating system. However, newer releases, windows 95, windows 98 and windows NT, are full-blown operating in contrast to DOS allows the display of almost everything on the computer screen. As such, instead of having different command structures and screen appearances, it provides a unified look and feel for all application designed to run it. This makes learning and usage less tedious and enjoyable. for this reason, windows is one of the software's referred to as Graphical user interface (GUI).A Graphical user interface allows the user to give commands by using a mouse to select and click the graphic image or symbol (icon) representing the command he wants the computer to perform. for example, to specify printer commands using windows, the user can simply click the printer icon. The mouse can also be used to click and pull-down the menus.

Windows 95 : is a powerful operating system and can run without DOS. it has the advantage of multiprocessing, flexibility, internet access, and easy upgrades.
Windows 98 : it is a version that has more capabilities than windows 95.
Windows NT : This is more sophisticated and powerful operating system. it allows more than one person to use the same computer at the same time (multi users). windows NT has network capabilities and securities checks built into the operating system. This makes network installation and use relatively easy. Similar GUI programs include Desq-view by Quarterdeck office systems, New wave by Hewlett Packard company.

OS/2 : This was originally developed jointly by IBM and Microsoft. They have however gone their separate ways. OS/2 stands for operating system/2. likewise windows95, windows98, and windows NT, the most recent version of OS/2 wrap. OS/2 wrap is designed for very powerful microcomputers and has several advanced features including multiprocessing.

Macintosh Operating System :

The Apple Macintosh operating system runs only on Macintosh computers. it offers a high-quality graphical user interface and look very similar to Ms windows. While DOS, Microsoft windows and OS/2 were originally designed for Intel microprocessors especially 486 and Pentium chips, Motorola and power PC chips are designed for Macintosh computers and cannot run DOS application programs. likewise the Intel chip cannot run Macintosh application program. for this reason, many corporations were not buying Macintosh computers because most business applications such as lotus 123 were written to run on DOS based machines. in order to market their computers, Apple introduced several versions of its operating systems for example Macintosh 7.5 designed for Macintosh computers using Motorola's power PC chips. This operating system is similar to windows Nt and OS/2, it has network capabilities and can read DOS, Windows and OS/2 files.

Utility Programs

These are programs that perform common repetitive tasks or house keeping tasks. An important utility program is disk formatting. Formatting initiates and prepared a blank copy disk so that it can accept and hold data. other utility programs include routines for copying or duplicating files and programs i.e copy commands, rename for renaming files and backup commands e.t.c.

Bootstrap Loader : This obtains the operating system from the disk (hard or floppy) and loads it into memory when the computer is turned on.

Communication software : This controls the flow of data to and from remote locations. This software prepares data for transmission, establishes the connection between two terminal codes and decodes data, and check parity.

Unix : Unix operating system can run on many different computers, performs multitasking, is shared by several users at a time and can network reliably. Unix was originally developed by AT $ T for minicomputers. it is appropriate for multitasking, good for networking between computers and has continued to be popular and powerful among micro-computers called workstations. Unix is popular among scientist, researchers, and engineers, but less known among business people. However with very powerful micro=computers Unix is becoming a player in the micro-computer world. Unix is a very powerful and complex operating system. it commands are frequently long and complex, as such micro-computers users find it difficult to learn and use it.


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