(Pictured left: The GNU Image Manipulation Program (GIMP), version 2.4.3. GIMP is freely distributed software.
Application software, also known as an application or an "app", is computer software designed to help the user to perform specific tasks. Examples include enterprise software, accounting software, office suites, graphics software and media players. Many application programs deal principally with documents. Apps may be bundled with the computer and its system software, or may be published separately. Some users are satisfied with the bundled apps and need never install one.
Application software is contrasted with system software and middleware, which manage and integrate a computer's capabilities, but typically do not directly apply them in the performance of tasks that benefit the user. The system software serves the application, which in turn serves the user.
Similar relationships apply in other fields. For example, a shopping mall does not provide the merchandise a shopper is seeking, but provides space and services for retailers that serve the shopper. Rail tracks similarly support trains, allowing the trains to transport passengers.
Application software applies the power of a particular computing platform or system software to a particular purpose. Some apps such as Microsoft Office are available in versions for several different platforms; others have narrower requirements and are thus called, for example, a geography application for Windows or an Android application for education or Linux gaming. Sometimes a new and popular application arises which only runs on one platform, increasing the desirability of that platform. This is called a killer application.