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The OS-tans (OS??) are an Internet phenomenon that started on Futaba Channel. The OS-tan or simply OS Girls are the personification of several operating systems by various amateur Japanese artists. Although a pure fan creation, the appearance of each OS Girl is generally consistent across artists. The OS Girls are typically depicted as women and usually depicted as sisters of varying ages.


A Summary about Personification

personification (noun);

  1. a person, thing or name typifying a certain quality or idea; an embodiment or exemplification
  2. a figure of speech, prosopopeia, in which an inanimate object or an abstraction is given human qualities
  3. an artistic representation of an abstract quality as a human

Natural phenomenon which interact and exist along with human beings are very common in myths and fables, be they described as the animal and the stone, the thunder and the wind, gods and spirits, etc. Legend such as an animal or a plant that change into human form (or vice-versa) not only exist in fairy tales and fables, but also on religious stories as well. Whether those stories were hearsay or not, they continued to spread in the form of oral traditions, caricatures, novels, legends, etc.

As such stories get passed on, learned, taught and used for amusement throughout the generations, it is inevitable that the anthropomorphic personification of non-human beings would find their way into comic-like or cartoon-like media, where such personifications can be depicted more credibly and with greater ease. In anime and manga, abiotic material that would otherwise seem inert, lifeless or alien in real life, can be animated to physically transform into a human being the likes of which could be cosplayed by anyone.

Personification before the OS-tans

The concept of the anthropomorphic personification is no less different in Japan. In fact many unique legends on the matter have existed for centuries -- including that of Tsukumogamis or inanimate objects that become alive [and sometimes gain spiritual human forms] after 100 years of existence -- before the advent of modern storytelling and product mascots. The most notable personification related to computers before the OS-Tans is the OS-idol Win-chan (second version goes here) which is a mascot of TECHWIN Magazine. There is also a personification used to promote BSD distributions in the net which is known as Princess of BSD; Magical Toko-chan, portrayed as an outrider, and to go back even to the time of 8-bit computer models in the 1980s. Even so, the iMacs were also personified by an artist named Satoshi Igarashi which is popularly known as Toy. He created the Toy's iMac Girl, the feature of a series of wallpapers first appearing between August 1998 and March 1999.

Futaba: The Rise of the OS-tans

The concept is reported to have begun as a personification of the common perception of Windows Me as unstable and prone to frequent crashes. Discussions on Futaba Channel likened this to the stereotype of a fickle, troublesome girl. This personification expanded, with the creation of Me-tan (dated to August 6 2003) followed by the other characters.

Some anonymous Futaba artists introduced a setting for its comic strip where a Toshiaki owns a PC. Then anonymous artists, all of a sudden included a group of women in which they personify every operating system the Toshiaki owns, in which also they didn't gave an explanation on how were they formed or did appeared or born in the setting. These group of women are the OS-Tans. The first batch of OS-tans created are all personifying a series of Windows OS, which means they are portrayed as sisters from each other. The series of Windows OS that was personified includes 3.1, NT, 95, CE, NT Workstation, 98 98SE, ME, 2000, XP and Server 2003. The OS-tans obviously considers the Toshiaki their master and lives with him. They almost have the traits of the operating system they respectively represent. Not only do they help their master on maintaining things that are technically related to computers, but they also do his chores and obligations around the house. That setting on those comic strips became temporary at first, until all Futaba artists accepted it and followed popularly.

Other than the Windows sisters, other operating system such as MacOS, Linux, and Linspire were also given a personification and commonly appeared with the Windows sisters at that time. These were soon followed by the personifications of MacOS9 and the eventual conversion of the generalized MacOS to be the personification of the entire Mac OSX line. (not to be confused with +Nijiura+ concept of OSX catgirls, See Below). While not included initially, a personification of Vista has been drawn up as well.

Futaba artist also started to draw male counterparts known as the OS-kuns (OS君), though like their female counterparts, some non-OS characters exist for programs and hardware. Norton Antivirus, for example, is usually portrayed as a creepy looking, possibly lecherous old doctor.

Futaba also includes their own memes to be shown along with the OS-tans. Most notable memes includes Yamada, WE (Taeko) and Pizza-tan.


Since popular in Futaba, OS-tans were also seen in other japanese imageboards as well. Such as +Nijiura+ (not to be confused with the nijiura board on Futaba). +Nijiura+ makes three-dimensional works such as CG illustrations and wallpapers more so than two-dimensional works (drawn pictures) and comic strips.

+Nijiura+ produced their own concept of the Mac OSX line, dividing up each new release into its' own character. +Nijiura+ felt the generic personification of Futaba's MacOS was inadequate, and choses to expand it using the release codenames such as Cheetah, Puma, Jaguar, Panther, Tiger and Leopard. A similar sentiment was applied to Windows Vista, for which designs have been expanded into Vista's several editions including Ultimate, Home Premium, Home Basic, Business and Enterprise.

+Nijiura+ currently included a section for the personification of BeOS.

Outside Japan

There are still submissions of 2D and 3D illustrations and multimedia etc. which related to OS-Tans that continues being posted in the internet. In which it gave more exposure to the viewers outside Japan, and because of that, contributions about OS-tans coming from English-speaking imageboards and websites came to grow. Most notable example is Juzo-kun's renditions of Linux distros wallpapers. While imageboards such as 4chan, wakachan and idlechan gave English translations on some comic strips.

OS-Tan Collections is an English speaking themed website that deals with OS-tans which is open for all OS-tan viewers around the Internet. Artists from OS-Tan Collections not only includes Futaba and +Nijiura+'s OS-tan current line-up, but also other, and often lesser known operating system as well.

The -tan Suffix

The Japanese suffix -tan (#12383;#12435;) is a child's mispronunciation of -chan (#12385;#12419;#12435;), an informal, intimate, and diminutive honorific suffix for a person used for friends, family, and pets. In this case, the mispronunciation is used intentionally to achieve the contrived cute or charming effect that is commonly associated with its use by young children. It is also sometimes added to the names of non-mascot characters, such as Sakura from Cardcaptor Sakura. The personifications as a whole are commonly simply called mascots or mascot characters. The -tan suffix itself means nothing outside its role as an honorific and its implications of cuteness; it is never used on its own. Normal suffixes including -san and -chan, are also used with OS Girls depending on the character and the speaker's preference, or omitted entirely. A common misconception is that -tan is a word meaning mascot or its addition to a name denotes a character being a mascot or personification. This is not so. Furthermore, the -tan suffix has largely fallen out of favor with the original creators of the OS Girls on Futaba Channel. Various and varying suffixes and names are used instead, for instance, the Windows 98 and Windows 98SE OS Girls are most commonly called Hacchan and Secchan.

References and in-jokes

When the OS-tans are portrayed in comics, they are often accompanied by Japanese puns or references from the Futaba Channel culture.


Often the Windows girls are seen carrying scallions. This is a pun: a popular Japanese firewall program (NEGiES) sounds like the Japanese word for scallion (negi) so the OS-tan carry scallions around as shields or weapons. A scallion is also the icon used for the firewall itself.

Breast Size, Hunger, and Memory

It has been suggested from time to time, that the breast sizes of the individual OS-tans represent their RAM requirements. Because Windows XP is considered a memory hog due to its increased resource consumption, XP-tan is incredibly well endowed (and she has no qualms about getting upgraded from time to time). 2K-tan normally rates as a close second, whereas as someone like MSDOS-tan lies at the complete opposite end of the spectrum. Another theory states that the breast size of an OS-tan represents the overall fanciness of their graphical user interface. Since XP was designed with 'bells and whistles', she has the largest breasts, but DOS, being no more than a command prompt, is at the other extreme. An alternate method of displaying memory or resource requirements in general is through the character's appetite. XP is often seen eating ridiculous amounts of food, sometimes to the point of obesity.


The OS-Tan phenomenon has had its share of problems. The first of which was with Deja Vu artworks, a doujin group who claimed ownerships of several designs, including NT-tan. The second was with Netrunner, an magazine who also claimed ownership of the design for Me-tan. The third comes with the comic Troubled Windows USA, which has come under fire due to its excessive use of American stereotypes. A more recent but less severe problem has come with the design for the personification of Windows Vista.


The OS-Tans (OS??) have became popular as an internet meme in Japan. Ever since the interactive flash animation known as Troubled Windows (とらぶる・うぃんどうず Toraburu Windouzu) was released in the internet, it gained more popularity and viewers in Japan. The flash animation was even subbed in English and was distributed as a video (not interactive) that it added its exposure and viewers outside Japan. Since then, a several OS-tan related multimedia (flash animation and video) submissions was released throughout the internet.

See also

External Links