What is System Software?
The operating system and utility programs are the two
major categories of system software. Just as the processor is
the nucleus of the computer system, the operating system is the nucleus
of all software activity.
The operating system is the most important program that runs
on a computer. Every general-purpose computer must have an operating
system to run other programs. Operating systems perform basic tasks,
- recognizing input from the keyboard
- sending output to the display screen
- keeping track of files and directories on the disk
- controlling peripheral devices such as disk drives and printers.
It is the first program loaded into memory when the computer
is turned on and, in a sense, brings life to the computer hardware.
Without it, you cannot use your word processing software, spreadsheet
software, or any other applications.
Without an operating system, you cannot communicate with your
computer. When you give the computer a command, the operating system
relays the instructions to the 'brain' of the computer, called the microprocessor
or CPU. You cannot speak directly to the CPU because it only understands
machine language. When you are working in an application software
program, such as Microsoft Word, commands that you give the application
are sent through the operating system to the CPU. Windows2000,
Window95/98, Mac OS, Unix and DOS are all examples of operating systems.
What are Utility Programs?