Application software

Application software is a subclass of computer software that employs the capabilities of a computer directly and thoroughly to a task that the user wishes to perform.

This should be contrasted with system software which is involved in integrating a computer's various capabilities, but typically does not directly apply them in the performance of tasks that benefit the user.

In this context the term application refers to both the application software and its implementation.

A simple, if imperfect analogy in the world of hardware would be the relationship of an electric light bulb (an application) to an electric power generation plant (a system).

The power plant merely generates electricity, not itself of any real use until harnessed to an application like the electric light that performs a service that benefits the user.

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