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System software

System software definition

System software is software that manages, controls, and operates the computer’s hardware. Device drivers and operating systems like Windows, Linux, or macOC are classified as system software. It creates a foundation, which enables user’s software (apps) to run and function seamlessly.

System software carries out basic functions like allocating resources (storage, computing power), managing files, and presenting the user interface. It works directly with computer hardware to execute specific tasks and ensures that all other software has the necessary resources it needs to operate.

The concept of system software dates back to the earliest computers. IBM 360/370's Operating System/360 is one of the earliest system software examples, created in the 1960s.

See also: computer system

Advantages and disadvantages

System software simplifies interactions between hardware and the user’s apps while also maintaining basic security features like user authentication and encryption. However, it is usually quite complex, which leaves plenty of space for vulnerabilities. The major drawback is that most system software is only compatible with certain hardware and you can’t easily mix and match as you wish. For example, it's virtually impossible to have a fully working iPhone with Android operating system on it. Likewise, apps designed for macOS won’t necessarily work on a Windows PC.