Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate - Information Technology/System Software and Application Software

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System Software

System software, more commonly known as Operating system, is any computer software that provides the infrastructure over which programs can operate, ie it manages and controls computer hardware so that application software can perform. Operating systems, such as Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X or Linux, are prominent examples of system software.

System software is software that basically makes the computer work. Beside operation systems, other examples are anti-virus software, communication software and printer drivers. Without the system software the computer doesn't work. In contrast to system software, software that allows you to do things like create text documents, play games, listen to music, or surf the web is called application software.[1]

In general application software are programs that enable the end-user to perform specific, productive tasks, such as word processing or image manipulation. System software performs tasks like transferring data from memory to disk, or rendering text onto a display device.

Types of System Software

System Software can be classified as operating system,device drivers and utility softwares.

  • Operating system creates an interface between user and the system hardware.

System software helps run the computer hardware and computer system. It includes operating systems, device drivers, diagnostic tools, servers, windowing systems, utilities and more. The purpose of systems software is to insulate the applications programmer as much as possible from the details of the particular computer complex being used, especially memory and other hardware features, and such accessory devices as communications, printers, readers, displays, keyboards, etc.

Specific kinds of system software include:

  • loading programs,
  • Operating systems,
  • device drivers,
  • linkers, and
  • utility software.

If system software is stored on non-volatile memory such as integrated circuits, it is usually termed firmware.

Application Software

Application software is any tool that functions and is operated by means of a computer, with the purpose of supporting or improving the software user's work. In other words, is the subclass of computer software that employs the capabilities of a computer directly and thoroughly to a task that the user wishes to perform. This should be contrasted with system software (infrastructure) or middleware (computer services/ processes integrators) is involved in integrating a computer's various capabilities, but typically does not directly apply them in the performance of tasks that benefit the user. In this context the term application refers to both the application software and its implementation.[1]

A simple, if imperfect analogy in the world of hardware would be the relationship of an electric light bulb (an application) to an electric power generation plant (a system). The power plant merely generates electricity, not itself of any real use until harnessed to an application like the electric light that performs a service that benefits the user.

Typical examples of software applications are word processors, spreadsheets, and media players, database applications.

Multiple applications bundled together as a package are sometimes referred to as an application suite. Microsoft Office,, and iWork 08, which bundle together a word processor, a spreadsheet, and several other discrete applications, are typical examples. The separate applications in a suite usually have a user interface that has some commonality making it easier for the user to learn and use each application. And often they may have some capability to interact with each other in ways beneficial to the user. For example, a spreadsheet might be able to be embedded in a word processor document even though it had been created in the separate spreadsheet application.

User-written software tailors systems to meet the user's specific needs. User-written software include spreadsheet templates, word processor macros, scientific simulations, graphics and animation scripts. Even email filters are a kind of user software. Users create this software themselves and often overlook how important it is.

In some types of embedded systems, the application software and the operating system software may be indistinguishable to the user, as in the case of software used to control a VCR, DVD player or microwave oven.

It is important to note that this definition may exclude some applications that may exist on some computers in large organizations.

Application Software Classification

There are many subtypes of application software:

  • Enterprise software addresses the needs of organization processes and data flow, often in a large distributed environment. (Examples include Financial, Customer Relationship Management, and Supply Chain Management). Note that Departmental Software is a sub-type of Enterprise Software with a focus on smaller organizations or groups within a large organization. (Examples include Travel Expense Management, and IT Helpdesk)
  • Enterprise infrastructure software provides common capabilities needed to support Enterprise Software systems. (Examples include Databases, Email servers, and Network and Security Management)
  • Information worker software addresses the needs of individuals to create and manage information, often for individual projects within a department, in contrast to enterprise management. Examples include time management, resource management, documentation tools, analytical, and collaborative. Word processors, spreadsheets, email and blog clients, personal information system, and individual media editors may aid in multiple information worker tasks.
  • Content access software is software used primarily to access content without editing, but may include software that allows for content editing. Such software addresses the needs of individuals and groups to consume digital entertainment and published digital content. (Examples include Media Players, Web Browsers, Help browsers, and Games)
  • Educational software is related to content access software, but has distinct requirements for delivering evaluations (tests) and tracking progress through material. It is also related to collaboration software in that many Educational Software systems include collaborative capabilities.
  • Simulation software are computer software for simulation of physical or abstract systems for either research, training or entertainment purposes.
  • Media development software addresses the needs of individuals who generate print and electronic media for others to consume, most often in a commercial or educational setting. This includes Graphic Art software, Desktop Publishing software, Multimedia Development software, HTML editors, Digital Animation editors, Digital Audio and Video composition, and many others.
  • Product engineering software is used in developing hardware and software products. This includes computer aided design (CAD), computer aided engineering (CAE), computer language editing and compiling tools, Integrated Development Environments, and Application Programmer Interfaces.

Examples of Application Software Classification

Enterprise Software

  • Executive dashboard

Enterprise infrastructure software

  • Business workflow software
  • Database management system (DBMS) software
  • Digital asset management (DAM) software
  • Document Management software
  • Geographic Information System (GIS) software

Information worker software

  • Time and Resource Management
  • Accounting software
  • Task and Scheduling
  • Field service management software

Data Management

  • Contact Management
  • Spreadsheet
  • Personal Database


  • Word Processing
  • Desktop publishing software
  • Diagramming Software
  • Presentation software

Analytical software

  • Computer algebra systems
  • Numerical computing

List of numerical software

  • Physics software
  • Science software
  • List of statistical software
  • Neural network software

Collaborative software

  • E-mail
  • Blog
  • Wiki or Application Wiki

Reservation systems

Financial Software

  • Day trading software

Content access software

  • Electronic media software
  • Web browser
  • Media players
  • Hybrid editor players
  • Entertainment software
    • Digital pets
    • Screen savers
    • Computer and Video Games
      • Arcade
      • Emulators for console games
      • Handheld Game Consoles Games
      • Video Game Console Games
        • Wireless or Mobile Phone Games

Educational software

  • Classroom Management
  • Edutainment Software
  • Learning/Training Management Software
  • Reference software
  • Sales Readiness Software
  • Survey Management

Simulation software

  • Computer simulators
    • Scientific simulators
    • Social simulators
    • Battlefield simulators
    • Emergency simulators
    • Vehicle simulators
      • Flight simulators
      • Driving simulators
      • Simulation games
        • Vehicle simulation games

Media development software

  • Image organizer
  • Media content creating/editing
      • 3D computer graphics software
      • Animation software
      • Graphic art software
      • Image editing software
      • Raster graphics editor
        • Vector graphics editor
      • Video editing software
      • Sound editing software
        • Digital audio editor
      • Music sequencer
        • Scorewriter
      • Hypermedia editing software
        • Web Development Software

'Product engineering software

  • Hardware Engineering
    • Computer-aided engineering
    • Computer-aided design (CAD)
    • NEi Nastran Finite Element Analysis
  • Software Engineering
    • Computer Language Editor
    • Compiler Software
    • Integrated Development Environments
    • Game creation software
    • Debuggers
    • Program testing tools


Application Software System Software