System software is essential to computer function. The term refers to programs that send
commands between application software and the hardware devices on the
computer. There are two basic kinds of
system software, the operating system and utility programs. The operating system manages the hardware and
coordinates the data inputs. It
organizes commands to ensure they are executed seamlessly so the user doesn’t
experience computing delays. Utility
programs perform housekeeping functions for the computer such as disc cleanup
and disc defragmenter. Those programs
remove unnecessary files from the computer and move the files on the hard drive
to increase efficiency. After market utility
programs can be purchased such as antivirus software. Antivirus software is designed to detect and
remove malicious software that can infiltrate the computer such as a virus, a
worm or spyware. Malicious software can
compromise the security of the data and decrease the efficiency of the
system. Operating system software and
utility software are both necessary to keep the computer running
The operating system (OS) controls how the peripherals
and central processing unit (CPU) function.
The OS manages the CPU, the memory, the user interface, and the
interaction between the CPU and the software applications. The OS controls the software demands on the
SPU and memory by allocating space for instructions in the computer memory. The OS uses the data in the random access
memory (RAM) first, then allocates hard drive space as virtual memory. The OS monitors and adjusts memory usage for
computing efficiency. The virtual memory
is created on the hard drive to store computing data when a computer runs out
of RAM. The OS moves instructions it isn’t
currently using to the virtual memory so it can use the RAM for instructions it
is using. Another function of the OS is
to manage the peripheral devices such as the mouse, keyboard, or printer. To do so, each peripheral device has its own
software called the device driver. The device
driver program communicates the commands, such as keystrokes, to the OS. Many device driver programs are installed in
the OS at a factory level, so there is no software to download. These devices with preinstalled software are
called plug and play devices (PnP).
The OS uses computer binary code to coordinate
communication between the software and the CPU.
There are strings of code that are commonly used across many
programs. These common codes are stored
in the OS so they don’t have to be included in each individual
application. The common code is called
an application programming interface or API.
Another aspect of the computer is the BIOS or basic
input/output system. This is the first
program that activates when a computer is turned on. BIOS locates the OS on the hard drive and
loads it to RAM. BIOS also performs the
power-on self-test (POST) at start-up. The
POST checks for any changes to the hard drive by comparing the current attributes
to the attributes of the last boot. According
to Computer Hope (2017), if the computer fails POST, it will generate a series
of beeps to identify the location of the error that occurred so the user can
address the issue. The kernel is a
management program that is part of the operating system. It is stored in the random access memory
(RAM) and it manages the computer components and the computer processor.
Three common operating systems used today are Linux,
macOS, and Microsoft Windows. All three
use a graphic user interface (GUI) which allows users to point and click on
icons and phrases to execute computer commands.
Linux is open source software that is often seen in supercomputers. One drawback there are less applications available
for Linux compared to macOS or Microsoft Windows. The operating system used for Apple products
is macOS. It is very user-friendly and
stores its applications in one place, the Launchpad. Drawbacks of macOS is that it is more expensive
and there are fewer applications available to compared to Microsoft
Windows. Microsoft Windows is a popular
operating system that offers more software and more flexibility than the other
two operating systems (Dachis, 2013).
Windows also costs less than macOS.
Since Windows is versatile and more cost-effective, it is the system I would