As you know, user instructions are required for the hardware devices to function. A set of instructions which achieve a single result is called a program or procedure. Many programs that function together to carry out a task render a software.
A word processing software, for example, helps the user to build, edit and save the documents. A web server requires visualization and uploading of web pages and multimedia files. There are two categories of software−
Applications needed to operate the computer's hardware parts and other software programs are called system software. System software acts as interface between applications for the hardware and the user. Hardware systems or machines and humans communicate in various languages need an interface.
Machines only understand binary language, i.e. 0 (no electrical signal) and 1 (presence of electrical signal) while humans speak English , French, German, Tamil, Hindi and many other languages. English is the primary language in computer-interactions. Software is required to convert all human commands into instructions which are easily understandable to computers. And this is exactly what system software does.
Based on its function, system software is of four types −
The operating system ( OS) is named system software and is responsible for the operation of all hardware components and their interoperability in order to execute tasks effectively. When the computer is switched on, OS is the first software to be loaded into computer memory, and this is called booting. OS handles the core functions of a computer, such as storing data in memory, retrieving files from storage devices, prioritizing activities etc.
As mentioned earlier, a significant role of system software is to translate all user instructions into a language that is understood by machine. When we speak about interactions between human machines, languages are of three types-
Programs written in high-level programming languages such as Java, C++ and so on are considered source code. Collection of computer-readable instructions is called entity code, or machine code. System program is called language processor which translates source code to object code. There are three language interpreter types –
System software is called device driver which controls and monitors the functioning of a particular device on a computer. Each device that needs to be externally connected to the system, such as printer , scanner, microphone, speaker etc., has a different driver associated with it. You need to install your driver before you attach a new device, so that the App knows how it wants to be managed.
A software that performs a single task is called application software, and nothing else. Application software is very advanced in its purpose and approach to problem solving. So a spreadsheet software can only do numerical operations, and nothing else. A program for hospital management can handle hospital operations, and little more. Here are some commonly used software applications-
Application software is called utility software which allows system software to do its work. Therefore utility software is in essence a cross between system software and mobile apps. Examples of software applications include–