15 System Software Examples 2024

System software is a type of software that is designed to provide a platform for running and operating other software, namely application software. You need system software to run application software.

An example of system software would be the Windows Operating System. Other system software examples would be Mac OS, Chrome OS, Ubuntu, Android, iOS, Blackberry, PlayStation System Software, Xbox System Software, and Nintendo System Software.

In this guide, I will explain what system softwares are, how system software is different from application software and what each one does. I will also give you some system software examples & application software examples – so you understand each one.

What Is System Software?

System software is a type of software that is designed to provide a platform for running and operating other software, namely application software. You need system software to run application software.

An example of system software would be the Windows Operating System. Using the system software – Windows – you can operate application software, such as Microsoft Word.

Every computer or machine has hardware, but that hardware is not enough to run applications like Microsoft Word. You need system software to run the hardware and operate applications on it.

In other words, your laptop’s hardware (the actual physical parts) is useless without system software – the Windows OS (Operating System). Think of the hardware as the body and system software as the mind or soul – it operates the body.

However, the system software is not limited to operating systems like Windows, Mac, or Android. A game engine is also a system software.

That is because the game engine provides a platform for individual games to run on. That makes the game engine a system software as opposed to application software.

Computational science software is also system software. The same goes for utility programs, which assist in system maintenance.

What Is Application Software?

On the other hand, application software is a type of software or program designed to complete a specific task. For example, Microsoft Word is an application software allowing you to write documents.

An internet browser like Google Chrome is also an application software because it allows you to complete a specific task – like conducting Google searches.

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Differences Between System Software And Application Software

Before I give you examples of both types of software, I will quickly review the differences between system software and application software to help you understand what each one does.

The main difference is that system software is designed to use the machine’s hardware. On the other hand, application software is designed to help the user complete tasks – like Microsoft Word, which helps you write documents.

System software is independent of application software – it runs with or without applications. On the other hand, you can not run application software without having working system software – for example, you can’t run Microsoft Word without Windows, Mac, or another system software working.

System software needs to run whenever the machine is turned on. It turns on when you turn on your computer and stops running when you turn it off.

However, application software can be turned on and off at any time (as long as the system runs).

While system software interacts closely with your machine’s hardware, application software doesn’t. System software uses the memory and processing aspects of the hardware much more.

It is usually written using low-level language, while application software uses a high-level language like Java or C++.

System software is usually installed when setting up the machine, and the manufacturer often installs it. On the other hand, while some devices come with application software, preinstalled application software, in general, is usually installed by the user via download, a USB, a CD, and so on.

Think of it this way: If you can uninstall or disable the application software and still continue using your computer, it is probably not system software, even if it came preinstalled on your device.

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Best System Software Examples

First, I will go over some system software examples. Some of these system software examples are very well known, while others might be less well known.

1. Windows

The Windows Operating System is perhaps one of the most well-known system software examples. Many laptops and desktops use Windows OS.

You can install various Windows OS application software, like Microsoft Word, Google Chrome, Firefox, and many others applications.

Most computers run on Windows, with over 75 percent and up to 87 percent of computers using Windows. The second closest operating system is MAC, which is popular but only makes up a smaller percentage of the market share.

Since Windows interacts closely with your device’s hardware to run applications on it, it is system software. If you don’t have Windows, MAC, or another system software installed, you won’t be able to do anything on your computer, let alone run application software.

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2. Mac OS

The Mac Operating System, along with Windows, is one of the most popular operating systems. It only makes up less than 15 percent of the market share, but it is still one of the oldest and most widely used system software, after Windows.

Most application software can be run using either Windows or Mac.

3. Chrome OS

The Chrome OS is not very well known or widely used, but it is a web-based system software and operating system that powers Chromebooks. You can run application software using the Chrome OS- mainly Google Chrome and various Android apps, like the Microsoft Word Android app.

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4. Ubuntu

Ubuntu is another operating system running on Linux. It is free and open-source, making it so attractive to many.

You can download various application software from the Ubuntu Software Centre. The Ubuntu system allows you to run applications like Firefox, Skype, and Telegram.

5. Android

Desktop computers and laptops are not the only machines that require system software to be operated. Mobile phones and tablets require system software as well.

Android is, by far, the most popular mobile system software. It powers over 70 percent of phones, while iOS is a close runner-up.

Using the Android system software, you can run application software like the Google Chrome app, the Whatsapp application software, the mobile Facebook app, the Instagram app, and many others.

These are all application software – after all, they require a functioning mobile system software to work, but the Android OS is independent of them and will work without application software, regardless of which application software comes preinstalled on your phone.

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6. iOS

The iOS system software is the second most popular mobile system software. It allows you to run other types of applications, not all of which are available on Android devices.

In addition to phones, many iPads use the iOS system software.

7. Blackberry

Blackberry was once one of the most popular mobile system software, if not the most popular. However, it now only accounts for a tiny percentage of mobile phones.

The Blackberry operating system software has its own applications that can be run on it.

8. PlayStation System Software

Each PlayStation version has its own system software for operating the device. For example, the PlayStation 3 has its own system software, while the PlayStation 4 has its system software, which is an operating system called Orbis OS.

The PlayStation 4 system software allows you to run applications. That application software allows you to complete tasks like play games, listen to music, and browse the web.

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9. Xbox System Software

Xbox consoles use the Xbox system software to run. Actually, the Xbox system software has historically been based on the Microsoft Windows system software.

The newer Xbox versions’ newer system software are more compatible with Windows system software, as they are less modified.

10. Nintendo System Software

Nintendo devices have their own system software. For example, the Nintendo Switch has a system software based on the Nintendo 3DS system software, and it is called Horizon.

Using the Nintendo Switch system software, you can do tasks like play games and chat with friends.

11. Programming Language Translators

I mentioned that programming language translators can be considered system software, but what are they?

As I explained before, application software is written in high-level code, such as Java and C++. This type of code is easy for humans to understand, so applications are written with it.

On the other hand, system software uses low-level code. Programming language translators translate high-level code from application software, such as Java, to the type of code that the computer and system software can understand.

This allows the system to run the application. This low-level code is not understandable by humans, but it is what the processor understands.

The manufacturer usually installs programming language translators. They are considered system software since they help facilitate the running of your machine and don’t help you complete a specific task like an application software such as Microsoft Word or Google Chrome does.

It is software that is related to the system and its operations.

12. Device Drivers

A device driver, also called a hardware driver, is also generally considered system software as it enables the system to operate normally.

They enable hardware devices to communicate with the operating system of your computer. Any hardware device that the operating system does not recognize needs a hardware driver so it can communicate with the operating system and so that commands can be issued back and forth.

A motherboard chipset would need a driver, and so would an external printer.

Many devices and machines come preinstalled with generic drivers that help their various parts work. For example, you usually don’t need a special driver for your keyboard because there is usually a generic driver that will allow it to work; the same goes for your mouse.

These drivers (which are just a collection of files) are usually considered to be system software. They are definitely not application software.

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13. Firmware

Firmware is a type of software that is also generally considered to be system software. It is software that is embedded in your computer and remains there forever, hence the name firmware.

Without firmware, your device wouldn’t work properly. Firmware is essentially a program containing a set of instructions that tell your device how to work.

For example, firmware tells your hard drive when to stop.

Sometimes, firmware is referred to as a “middleman.” That is because firmware acts as a middleman between the actual operating system and the hardware on your device, allowing the operating system to interact and run with the hardware.

As such, firmware is considered system software, not application software.

14. Utility Programs

As mentioned, utility programs can also be considered system software. They help facilitate the system, even if they are not actual system software – in other words, even if they are not the software the system operates on.

An antivirus would be the perfect example of a utility program that provides diagnostic functions for the smooth operation of the operating system. Firewalls, data backup and restoration software, disk partition, disk defragmentation, and similar software can also fall under the system software category, being that they are utility programs.

I will mention that some people might not consider them to be system software, but they generally fall under the broader term “system software” for most purposes.

12 Application Software Examples

I will now move on to application software examples. Here are some types of application software and what they do.

1. Microsoft Word

I already mentioned Microsoft Word as being a great example of application software. It serves a purpose – it allows you to write, read, and edit documents.

You don’t need Microsoft Word for the smooth operation of your operating system. However, you do need your operating system to run Microsoft Word, and it serves an end purpose for the user, making it an application software.

2. Google Chrome

Another application software I referred to a few times is Google Chrome. Whether you are installing it on a Windows or Android operating system, it is an application that allows you to browse the web and read articles on the web.

3. Firefox

Firefox is another popular web browser. Like Google Chrome, application software allows you to browse the web.

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4. Skype

Skype is application software that can be installed on devices like Windows, Android, and iOS machines. Using Skype, you can communicate with other people over the internet using voice calls, video chats, and text messaging.

5. Windows Media Player

Windows Media Player is application software that is designed to allow you to play videos and other media. It is not system software, despite having the name Windows in it, even if it comes preinstalled on your device.

That is because it is not essential for the operation of your machine. Even if Windows Media Player didn’t work, you would still be able to run various applications on your device.

6. VLC Media Player

VLC Media Player is another application software that falls under the category of media players, like Windows Media Player. It is free and open-source and allows you to play most types of media files.

7. Microsoft Access

Microsoft Access, despite having the name Microsoft in it, is application software.

It falls under database management systems, software that collects and organizes files, documents, and data on your computer.

8. Photoshop

Photoshop is one of the most popular image editing application software tools. It allows you to edit and manage your photos but is application software, not system software.

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9. Facebook

Facebook is application software that can be used to connect with friends using the Facebook social media platform. You can use Messenger to chat with friends, comment on friends’ posts, watch videos, and more.

Facebook is available on the website – that’s not application software. However, it is also available on an app for devices like Windows PCs, Android phones, and iOS phones – and that is application software.

10. WhatsApp

WhatsApp is another application software you can download on various devices to chat with friends and make video and voice calls. The desktop app and mobile app are application software.

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11. iTunes

iTunes is an application software you can download on various devices. It allows you to listen to music and podcasts.

12. Netflix

Netflix is a popular application software that allows you to stream movies and films from your desktop or phone. Along with Hulu and Amazon Prime Video, it is one of the most popular streaming-on-demand application software.

It is also available on the web.

Types Of Software

Before I wrap up this article, I would like to go through the various types of software available quickly.

As I already explained, the two main types of software are system software, which is necessary for the operating system, and application software, which is designed to help users complete specific tasks and relies on system software to work.

However, system and application software can fall under one of the categories I will list below.


Freeware is software that is free to download and use. Usually, it includes application software, but some system software may also be free.

Skype, for example, is freeware because you can download it for free and use it without paying. The same goes for WhatsApp, Telegram, Windows Media Player, Google Chrome, Firefox, and many others.

Open Source

Open source software is a specific type of software. The owners of open source software make the source code of the software open and available to everyone, hence the name open source.

Since the source code is freely available, everyone can view it. In addition, people can take the source code and alter it to create a different version of the software; they can then distribute it.

Many application software are open, but system software can also be open. For example, I mentioned that Ubuntu was open-source.

Although Ubuntu is the system software, it is open-source, and you can view and edit its source code. Since it is open-source, it is also free for everyone to use, copy, distribute, and modify.

However, not all freeware is open-source – software can be free without having its source code made public, and since the source code is private, you can’t edit it. Freeware might be free but copyrighted, so you can’t copy and distribute it like you can with open-source software.

Proprietary Software

Proprietary software is the opposite of open-source software. A company and individual own it, and you may or may not have to pay to use it.

You definitely can not access the source code.


Shareware is like freeware but it is not entirely free. Instead, it is being “shared” with you for a specific amount of time.

Usually, shareware will have a free trial, after which it will stop being shared with you.

Malware, Spyware, and Adware

Malware, spyware, and adware are examples of software you don’t want. They are distributed, usually without consent, via download links and sketchy websites, and they infect your computer to show you ads, spy on your activities and location, and steal your information.

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System Software Examples – Wrapping It Up

Hopefully, you now understand the difference between system and application software and the different software categories, such as freeware vs. open-source software.

If you are reading this article, you are using some system software and application software – for example, you might be using Windows or Mac (system software) and Google Chrome or Safari web browser (application software).

About Author

Tom loves to write on technology, e-commerce & internet marketing. I started my first e-commerce company in college, designing and selling t-shirts for my campus bar crawl using print-on-demand. Having successfully established multiple 6 & 7-figure e-commerce businesses (in women’s fashion and hiking gear), I think I can share a tip or 2 to help you succeed.