Difference between System Software and Operating System

A software is a set of rules or instructions that are given to a computer to perform some function. Basically, software is classified into two types: Application software and System software. Application software is additional software in a computer which is used to perform a specific function. Users has a direct access to this application software and this software is not mandatory in a system. We can use system without this application software.

System software is the main software of a computer that has a direct access to the system’s hardware. It takes care and monitors all the other functions of a computer. It manages computer resources. A computer doesn’t work without system software. Operating system is a system software that acts as an interface between the user and system’s hardware.

What is a System Software?

System software also known as system program, is a set of computer programs that are used to operate various hardware components that are connected to the computer system. It acts as interface between the user and application software. This is the main component that controls all the internal working of the system. It acts as a platform to run other application software.

System software are classified into the following types.

  • Operating system − Operating system is a software that sits in between the software and hardware of the computer system. It acts as a mediator and provides the interface to interact with them. Operating systems are used in computers, laptops, TV, mobiles, etc.

  • Device driver − Device driver is a software program that manages all the external devices or hardware components that are connected to the computer. It doesn’t have a user interface. It is present in between the operating system and hardware and allows OS to use hardware whenever the request is made. Usually, it is written in C or C++ languages.

  • Utility software − Utility software maintain the smooth functioning of the computer. It assists the functioning of the operating system, and provides necessary environment that is required for running OS. Utility software comes along with operating system package. They can also be installed separately. Antivirus software, file management tools, compression tools, disk management tool, disk cleanup tool etc., are all examples of utility software.

What is an Operating System?

Operating system is a system software that acts as a mediator between the user and hardware. It manages all the hardware components. It provides an environment for the user to interact with various applications, execute programs and use hardware components etc., OS is the essential part of a computer system.

OS is the first program to run when the computer is turned on. BIOS will start running the operating system once computer is started. It manages other application software, hardware devices, allocates memory, storage management etc.,

The main functions of an operating system are −

Types of Operating Systems

Following are the different types of operating systems −

  • Batch operating system − Allows multiple users to use it at the same time. But there are no connections between the users. The OS doesn’t directly interact with the hardware. There are certain operators between the OS and hardware.

  • Time – sharing operating system − Each task is given with certain amount of time to execute. Once the time is completed, the control is shifted to the next task.

  • Distributed operating system − Here, all computer systems are connected to an OS. Each computer has its own memory and CPU and they are all connected to a single operating system. Connected computers can access various files from that network which are not actually present in them.

  • Network operating system − Here computers have their own operating system and are connected to a common server

  • Real-time operating system − These OS are designed to perform specific tasks in a given time limit. They are used in missiles, airbags etc.,

System Software vs. Operating System

The following table highlights the major differences between System Software and Operating System:

System Software

Operating System

System software controls all the hardware components that are connected to the computer

Operating system is a system software that acts as interface between user and system’s hardware

It is loaded into the memory whenever it is required

Once the system is on, it resides in the primary memory until the system is turned off

It is run when the call is made

It is run continuously

System software is of the following types:

  • Operating system

  • Device drivers

  • Utility software

  • Batch operating system

  • Time-sharing operating system

  • Distributed operating system

  • Network operating system

  • Real time operating system

System software manages the entire computer system

Operating system manages system along with software

Windows, Linux, antivirus software, compressors, USB drivers etc., are examples of system software

Windows, Mac, Linux, Unix, Android, etc., are all examples of operating system


System software is a software that manages the hardware components of the computer system. Operating system is one of the system software that manages the system’s hardware and also acts as interface between user and hardware. Operating systems runs various other software applications.

Updated on: 03-Jul-2023


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