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I know that an application is a program that you interact with on the desktop, but what exactly are processes and services? Are services classified as processes or is it the other way round?

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Not sure why this is being downvoted. It's an excellent question that may confuse novice users. –  Matthew Dec 10 '12 at 0:03
    
Yes, it is a very good question. –  Josiah Dec 10 '12 at 0:41
    
See also: superuser.com/questions/209654/… –  Rabarberski Sep 27 '13 at 7:24
    
Indeed, I wonder why server means 'a powerful PC' whereas it can be a simple, low-power e-mail app or router? –  Val Feb 2 at 13:05
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2 Answers

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Application: Application software, also known as an application or an app, is computer software designed to help the user to perform specific tasks. So, you are right. An application is something that the user interacts with.

Process: A computer program is a passive collection of instructions; a process is the actual execution of those instructions. Several processes may be associated with the same program; for example, opening up several instances of the same program often means more than one process is being executed.

Processes then, is what is actually making the application do something.

Service: Local implementations in software. Basically, a service is something that is usually built into the OS itself, and is designed to not have any user interaction.

Examples This is really how it works. You have an Application. You launch the application, the app is programmed to do things. How the app accomplishes that is by using processes. An app could use more if it wants to perform larger tasks. Meanwhile, say Windows or Mac has services running. These are things that other apps or only built in apps can handle. It is usually required to keep something running, but is not available without it.

Keep in mind, a lot of people (Including Developers), will refer to their apps that run in the background as services. They are not. Only the OS itself can create services... Actually, services can be created, but they are usually meant to be used for many different kinds of apps.

Hope that clears that up a little bit. If anyone has a correction let me know.

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Service neither means "built into PC" nor "local implementations of software" (what does it ever mean?). Service is something that does not have user interface, a program that works on the background, like message reply service. Your telephone works as server when it records the messages when you are not at home. Particularly, services in Windows are started automatically when PC starts and have no Desktop (a screen device) associated with them. The clients communicate with them over various protocols, like TCP and this tells you something about what service is. –  Val Feb 2 at 13:10
    
Well, I assumed we were referring to software based things here, which seems safe to me. In addition, I clearly mentioned a service is designed to not have any user interaction. Therefore I don't understand your point. –  Josiah Feb 2 at 15:32
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This web page gives a detailed comparison of a service Vs an application in Windows from Windows Vista and above: http://securityinternals.blogspot.ae/2014/01/difference-between-windows-service-and.html

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Welcome to Super User! Whilst this may theoretically answer the question, it would be preferable to include the essential parts of the answer here, and provide the link for reference. –  Thor Feb 2 at 13:23
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