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7 Differences Between System Software and Application Software

A system, such as: a computer, mobile or device like microwave oven, must need software to function. A software is a set of coded instruction for the system to execute in order to have it’s hardware parts performing actions. However, software is primarily of two types, system software and application software.

System Software:

What are the differences between system software and application software?Software that manages and operates the system’s hardware resources like I/O devices, memory devices, processor etc. is called a system software. A system software also let application software to perform actions.

Application Software:

An application software performs one specific task or a set of specific tasks by taking instructions or permissions from user and using system software to use system resources computing and outputting information back to the user.

7 Differences between system software and application software:

System Software
Application Software
Software that manages & operates hardware with or without actions from user
Software that perform actions based on user’s choice
Low level software that fully or partially runs in background
High level software that primarily runs on foreground
Creates a platform for application software to function
Application software can assist other application software to function
Acts as an intermediary between computer hardware and application software or user
Acts as a tool for user or other application software to perform specific action
System software have full access to memory, disks etc.
Application software has limited or allowed access to memory, disks etc.
System software can control the operation and life-cycle of application software
Application software can’t manage system software if not granted
A hardware system must need at least one system software to perform action
Application software is optional


  1. System Software: Operating systems, BIOS, firmware etc.
  2. Application Software: Word Processors, Games, Internet Browsers etc.