What is System Software?

Have you ever happened to come into a conversation and the term “system software” popped up? If you have ever wondered what it meant, then this post is for you.

System software (SS) has come a long way from its inception in the 80s. It is very important for a computer/smartphone to have a good working system software. For example, if the system software is damaged, the device “dies”.

What is system software? It can be defined as software that is designed to manage computer hardware and provides the functionality needed for other software to run properly.

No SS, no computer or smartphone for that matter. One of the most dreaded messages you can read on your phone today is 👇🏾

System Software has been destroyed
Credit: Mi.com

Read: What are software platforms?

System software is designed to act as the base or platform for other types of software to function. It also acts as the middle man between the user/application software and the lower level software and hardware. If there were no SS, installing an app would be very difficult. Without an appropriate SS, all computer hardware are useless.

System software can either be user installable or embedded into the hardware.

Examples of these software include: MacOS, Linux, Android, iOS, Windows (PC and mobile), Symbian, Harmony OS etc.

System software is not a single unit of software. It is made up of different parts that work together to ensure a smooth functioning of the device hardware i.e. PC or smartphone. They include:

Operating system (OS):

The operating system is the main body of software that manages the resources of the hardware. The bootloader as well as other supervisory programmes are found in the OS. The apps that you install on your device as well as the user interface all run on top of the OS.

Device drivers

This is software that controls devices that are attached to the SoC of your smartphone e.g. microphones, cameras, display, USB terminals etc.

Read: Front end and Back end software


Kernels are found at the back end of the OS and help to connect application software to system hardware.


These are software that are designed to assist users in the care and maintenance of their smartphones e.g. cache cleaners, antivirus software etc.


This is the front facing part of software that the user interacts with. This part of the software displays the icons, emojis and colours that are aesthetically pleasing and legible to human users.

System Apps

These are apps that come bundled with the operating software. They are also known as bloatware. Examples of system apps include Google’s framework of services and apps, Apple’s family of apps etc.

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