<conceptID>Operating<\conceptID> <conceptID>Application<\conceptID> <conceptID>Software<\conceptID> <conceptID>KouyoumjianG<\conceptID> The Difference Between Operating & Applications Software Most programs in day-to-day use on computer systems around the world are variations of the two main program types – operating systems/software and applications software. I shall start by defining the two types and then summarising the differences between them. An operating system is basically the environment that the computer presents to the user and acts as the interface between the user on the top level and the computer’s processing hardware at the lowest level. It is a representation of the computer’s innards that can be easily understood by a user and allows for easy and informative interaction between the user and the system. Applications software can be accessed through this environment through a defined application program interface (API) that is usually unique to the OS. There are many types of operating systems, some of which I have outlined below: Multi-tasking where multiple applications can be run simultaneously. Multi-user where numerous users can share access to the same system. Batch processing, concerned with the processing of vast amounts of data with little interaction with the user. Real-time used for controlling complex systems using input from remote sensors, such as control systems for nuclear power plants. Interactive which defines any system where the OS provides constant feedback to the user as they work. Operating systems provide different environments through which the user can launch applications. Most use a graphical user interface (GUI) that provides the user with a visual interface that the user can interact with the OS directly using visual tools, such as the mouse pointer in Windows. Other systems exist such as the command line interface (CLI) used in MS-DOS. Well-known examples of operating systems are Windows, Linux, z/OS, AIX and OS/400. Applications software are the programs that a user or another application executes to perform a specific task. Web browsers, word-processors, drawing applications, publishing software, database systems and peripheral-control (printer/scanner) software are all examples of applications. Applications are run by a user through the environment provided by the OS and rely on the operating system and support programs to provide processing for things such as input/output, mathematical processing and audio support. In summary: Operating system supplies interface to user. User executes application through OS. OS defines level of interactivity between user and computer system. Application used as tool for user. Application uses OS to access equipment for information processing. All activity between user and application takes place within OS. Please direct all comments, queries and abuse to Garen at email@example.com.
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