The Operating System, utility programs and drivers.
The everyday programs that you use such as Microsoft Office, graphics packages and web browsers.
What is an Operating System?
The operating system is a program that allows applications software to communicate with the hardware.
Tasks of an Operating System...
- Sorting out where to store data on disk drives
- Dealing with security - user names and passwords
- Organizing files and folders
- Managing data transfer from the CPU to the peripherals e.g. printer, monitor
- Deals with saving, deleting, opening, closing files
What is a user interface?
A user interface is the software that enables a user to provide instructions to, interact with and control a computer or device e.g. a mobile phone.
The user interface is often part of the operating system.
Common Tasks Carried Out By Utility Programs
- File compression
- File sorting
- File renaming
- File conversion (e.g. convert a sound file to MP3)
- File repair
- Disk defragmentation (defragging)
- Printing jobs
- Backing up data
- Anti-virus checks
Whats the job of Drivers?
A driver is a specially written program which translates the commands from the operating system into commands that the hardware will understand.
If you try to use a device without the correct driver, then it probably won’t work. If you do manage to get your new printer working without installing its driver, it will probably just print gobbledygook!
What is Applications Software?
Applications software is different to systems software. They do not control how the system works, instead they allow you to do your every day tasks on the computer such as writing a letter, sending an email, making a poster or downloading a web page.
NOTE: whenever you write about applications software in your exam, always use the generic term e.g. word processing software, DTP software. Do not say, 'Word' or 'Excel' unless you are supporting your first statement with an example.
Application software can be classified in different categories:
- custom-written software
- off-the-shelf software
What is the difference between systems software and applications software?
System software controls how the computer system works and it enables the user to access the system hardware and application software. Applications software does not control the system; instead it allows the user to perform everyday tasks such as creating a document or webpage.