System software is software on a computer that is designed to control and work with computer hardware. The two main types of system software are the operating system and the software installed with the operating system, often called utility software. The operating system and utility software typically depend on each other to function properly.
Some system software is used directly by users and other system software works in the background. System software can allow users to interact directly with hardware functionality, like the Device Manager and many of the utilities found in the Control Panel.
Software that allows users to create documents, browse the Internet, or check e-mail are examples of application software. System software does not involve direct interaction with computer hardware or operating system functionality, but may require the use of one or more hardware components to function properly.