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Difference Between Operating System and Application Software

July 16, 2018by Lithmee4 min read

The main difference between operating system and application software is that an operating system is a
system software that works as the interface between the user and the hardware while the application
software is a program that performs a specific task.

Computer software is divided into system software and application software. System software is the
type of software that is used to run hardware devices. Operating systems, language processors and
device drivers are few examples for system software. Application software is the type of software that is
designed to achieve a specific user requirement. Word processors, spreadsheets, web browsers are
some application software. Apart from these types, there is another software called utility software.
This software assists the tasks of the system. Antivirus software, file and disk management tools are
some examples of utility software.

Key Areas Covered

1. What is an Operating System

– Definition, Usage

2. What is an Application Software

– Definition, Usage

3. What is the Difference Between Operating System and Application Software

– Comparison of Key Differences

Key Terms

Operating System, Application Software


Difference Between Operating System and Application Software - Comparison Summary

What is an Operating System

An operating system works as the interface between the user and the hardware. The entire functionality
of the computer system depends on the operating system. Windows, DOS, Linux, Unix are few examples
for operating systems.

Difference Between Operating System and Application Software

Figure 1: Linux Operating System

An operating system performs a variety of tasks. It handles file and directory creation and deletion. It
manages process creation, deletion, suspension and synchronization. It also allocates and deallocates
memory space. Another key point is that the operating system manages and controls hardware devices.
Furthermore, it prevents the system from unauthorized access and secures the data and resources.
Overall, an operating system is one of the most vital components of the computer.

What is Application Software

An application software performs a single task. These type of software programs are specially designed
to solve particular problems such as document creation, doing calculations, image editing etc.

Main Difference - Operating System vs Application Software

Figure 2: Application Software

There are various types of application software. Word allows the users to create documents.
Spreadsheets allow the users to create financial documents, graphs and charts and to perform complex
calculations. Database Management Systems such as MySQL, MSSQL allows the users to store, retrieve
and manipulate data. Multimedia tools are also application software that allows the users to create and
edit images, videos and adding after effects.
Furthermore, business organizations use application software according to their business requirements.
A Human Resource Management Software helps to keep a record of employee details, salaries, leaves,
etc. A Hospital Management Software helps to record patient, doctor, staff and payment details. Those
are some examples of application software.

Difference Between Operating System and Application Software

Definition

An operating System is a system software that manages computer hardware and software resources and
provides common services for computer programs. Application software is a software designed to
perform a group of coordinated functions, tasks or activities for the benefit of the user.