System Software

System software is any program (that controls the computer's hardware or that can be used to maintain the computer in some way so that it runs more efficiently. There are three basic types of system software:
  • An operating system tells the computer how to use its own components. Examples of operating systems include Windows, the Macintosh Operating System, and Linux (see Fig. 1). An operating system is essential for any computer; because it acts as an interpreter between the hardware, application programs, and the user.
    Desktop view of an operating system
    Fig. 1: Desktop view of an operating system.
    When a program wants the hardware to do something, it communicates through the operating system. Similarly, when you want the hardware to do something (such as copying or printing a file), your request is handled by the operating system.
  • A network operating system allows computers to communicate and share data across a network while controlling network operations and overseeing the network’s security.
  • A utility is a program that makes the computer system easier to use or performs highly specialized functions (see Fig. 2). Utilities are used to manage disks, troubleshoot hardware problems, and perform other tasks that the operating system itself may not be able to do.
Desktop view of an operating system
Fig. 2: Types of system utility programs.

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