System Software

Definition of System Software

  • System software refers to a type of computer program designed to run a computer’s hardware and application software.
  • System software is the program that coordinates all the other software and the underlying hardware in the computer.
  • Some of the most well-known examples of system software include operating systems, device drivers, disk formatters, and utility programs.

Role of System Software

  • Operating Systems (OS) form the core of system software, providing an interface between the user and the hardware.
  • They control and facilitate the usage of the hardware by various application software. Examples include Microsoft Windows, macOS, Linux, and Unix.
  • The OS performs several key tasks such as managing memory, handling system calls, managing files and directories, handling input/output operations, and managing external devices etc.
  • Device drivers are another type of system software, which allow one or more hardware devices to communicate with the computer’s operating system.

Types of System Software

  • Operating systems can be real-time, multi-tasking, multi-user, or distributed, among others, based on the critical features they offer.
  • Real-time OS provides services and functionality in real-time and offers deterministic and fast response times.
  • Multi-user and multi-tasking OS allows multiple users to use the system’s services and resources, and run multiple processes concurrently. Examples include Unix, Linux, and Microsoft Windows.
  • Distributed OS runs on multiple machines but appears as a single machine to the user.

Difference Between System Software and Application Software

  • System software is involved with controlling and running the computer, while application software allows the user to perform specific tasks such as creating documents, browsing the web, and more.
  • System software interacts with the hardware at a basic level while application software resides above system software and is used by the end-user.

Importance of System Software

  • Understanding the functionalities and limitations of different system software can help maximize the efficiency of the computer and safeguard against potential security threats.
  • System software ensures that the rights and resources of the system are used efficiently and correctly.
  • An efficiently managed system runs smoothly, requires less maintenance, and offers a better environment for the application software to function properly.


  • In a nutshell, system software is crucial in managing the entire computer system including the hardware, application software, and users. It provides a platform for all computing activities, hence gaining a thorough understanding of system software is key in the field of computer science.