Types of Computer Software: System Vs Application Vs Programs

Types of Computer Software: System Vs Application Vs Programs

There is a lot of confusion regarding computer software because people fail to realize that there are different types. In this informative article, we explain the differences between the three types of computer software; system software vs application software vs programming languages.

System Software

The system software is the background of the computer whose function is to act as a communication between the computer hardware and the user. There are several system software programs, including the firmware, OS, and drivers. One unique thing you realize about system software is that it is installed on the computer hardware. OS and drivers are temporarily installed by users or IT personnel and can be changed depending on the user preference and OS version. As for the firmware, it is permanently installed on the computer hardware by the manufacturer and performs the same task all through.

Application Software

Most computer users interact with the application software only, not even the OS. As the name suggests, these are functional apps designed to be used for specific tasks. For example, Microsoft Word is a software application. Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome are application software for browsing. When it comes to professionals, you will find designers with Adobe, accountants with Sage and DJs with Serato and Virtual DJ. Also, PC games are categorized here. While system software is installed on the computer hardware, application software is installed on the OS.

Software Programming Languages

Unlike system and application software, programming languags are for the developers only. You won’t need to understand anything about programming languages if you are the average computer user. To understand programming languages, think of them as the materials used to build the system and application software. Examples of programming language software include BASIC, C, C++, Java, COBOL, FORTRAN, PHP, and Ada. Java and PHP are synonymous with internet applications such as mobile apps and websites. C++, on the other hand, is for building operating systems.


As you can see, the software is such a broad topic, though most users have been thinking of software as application programs only. Besides the browsers, calculator, reminders, games, antivirus, and the standard software, there is other crucial software which supports the entire functions of the computer.