Refers to software and hardware that treat objects on a display screen as bit maps or geometrical shapes rather than as characters. In contrast, character-based systems treat everything as ASCII or extended ASCII characters.
All graphics software is by definition graphics based. Systems that manipulate text can also be graphics based; for example, desktop publishing systems are essentially graphics-based word processors.
Traditionally, most DOS applications -- word processors, spreadsheets, and database management systems -- have been character based. Windows and the Mac OS are graphics-based.