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This article is a work in-progress.

The setting of the OS-tan universe is what joins all the OS-tans and their factions together. But what the setting looks like and how it works is subject to much interpretation as none of these are set in stone.

The setting from known OS-tan 'canon'

The canon doesn't go into very much detail about the setting, simply focusing on the characters first and foremost. Sometimes the setting isn't specified. Occasionally other characters appear, such as Toshiaki (representative of the user) and Bill Gates.

Many of the Japanese OS-tan comics seem to take place in an unspecified part of Japan, given the OS-tan phenomenon's Japanese origins. Most of the comics star the Windows-tans, and as such take place mainly in the Windows Family household, which itself is portrayed as a traditional Japanese-style mansion, which is also shown in many fanart.

It's assumed that since the Windows and Macs are rivaling families, that in-canon they live near each other.

Not much is given in-canon about the where the Mac-tans live, aside from the Mac Manga, which shows them (or at least Mac OS 9-tan, Mac OSX-tan and the OSX-kuns) living in a large western-style villa.

OS-tan expanded universes

While the Japanese-made fanon usually takes place on a small scale (i.e: In a single house with Toshiaki as the master), The expanded universe which makes up western fanon often takes place on a large scale.

Fantasy Cyberpunk Culture Theory

In this interpretation, the OS-tan universe doesn't take place in the real world, but a fantasy cyberpunk world that may be partly based off of it. Real people usually don't appear, and the OS-tanverse is comprised of solely of the OS-tans at the top of the hierarchy, with hardware-tans, program-tans and file-tans at their service. There is no map of this fictional world, but each faction (except for the CIOST and wanderers who live around the world) has its own territory, led by an OS dynasty.

Since this was for some time the most popular interpretation, it set up the guideline that older OS or computer-tans usually wear older fashions, and may have more antiquated mindsets. Even in canon, there are some traces of this, with 95-tan wearing a kimono, which was common college attire for women in the Meiji era of Japan, and 3.1-tan wears western-style attire of the same time frame. There is a lot of flexibility to this guideline, such as the late 70's and early 80's home computer-tans wearing different time periods of fashion, but are more old-fashioned than 3.1 and 95. There are also some exceptions, in canon, there is MS-DOS-tan's modern schoolgirl attire.

An intermediate between the Annex Project interpretation and real-world-based interpretations is that the great number of anachronisms, of technology and fashion are explained by stylistic choices of individual OS-tan cultures.

This theory is the one used in the Annex Project (see below in "Settings Proposed in OS-tan Literature"). However, this theory and the real world theory aren't necessarily incompatible.

Real World-based Theory

This theory, which has gained a lot more favor in the western fanon, involves real users and real locations in what looks like the real world with some futuristic cyberpunk elements. The inclusion of real people of the companies who created the computer systems serves as a way to neatly resolve the origins of the OS-tans in-universe as having been artificially created.

Middle ground between the Fantasy Cyberpunk Culture and Real World

Detailed further below in the next section, this theory acknowledges both the real world and a fantasy cyberspace world. Characters are from real-world locations, but can travel to cyberspace. The cyberspace aspect can account for why OS-tans from geographically disparate places can meet each other, and why their societies may be hidden from regular people. Conversely, characters representing a system installed on a single site, such as most early mainframes, have had little to no contact with systems outside their area because they never went to cyberspace to meet others.

Settings proposed in OS-tan literature

This article is a work in-progress.

While the OS-tan community cannot agree on a single OS-tan setting or continuity, many writers and artists have created, within their stories, OS-tan universes that have definitive settings, backgrounds and mechanics. It is unlikely these stories are a part of a single continuity - however, some share elements that hint at them being related, and a number are confirmed as belonging to a shared continuity.

The first prominent continuity to arise in the OS-tan fan community was that of the "Fantasy culture" setting. Largely imagined by former OSC artist C-chan and laid out in his Annex Project, it featured a cast built mostly of OS- and program-tans, with a few humans included. Under this view of the OS-tan universe, OS-tan are almost entirely female and a ruling class; their assistants, program-tans, are divided between male and female. Humans are largely limited to industry leaders, and portrayed as the creators and bosses of the OS-tans. Other defining characteristics of this continuity include: hardware-tans being all but ignored; older OS-tans appearing more antiquated and having simpler ways of thinking; mainframes being cast as a race of giants; and almost no attention given to real-world locations. Computer hardware was typically considered analogous to "territory", the playing field on which OS-tans interacted. The earliest character in the original version of this continuity is EXEC-tan.

The continuation of the Annex Project, mainly updated by Aurora after C-Chan left, follows the original closely, but the setting and continuity follow more of a middle ground path. This continuation includes the characters older than EXEC (some of which are depicted as more antiquated than her), and include the hardware-tans and -kuns from the other newer continuities. The mainframes in this version aren't literally portrayed as giants, but are still shrouded in myth to outsiders, and are believed by many to be giants from the myths. The setting is similar to the original, but portrays the OS-tans existing in both a modified real world, and a cyberspace world akin to the Annex's original setting.

Among the first OS-tan stories to employ a variant of the "real world" setting is OSC user Bella's Linux-tan comic. While most of the characters are OS-tans, humans are featured as well. The setting seems to be largely real-world, with factual settings and people mentioned, and having differences typical to the real world-based theory of OS-tan setting - such as OS-tans possessing magical powers. However, some characteristics were borrowed from the "fantasy culture" theory, like -tans grouping into factions that function largely independent of human society. The relationship between the real world and the world of the OS-tans was not detailed at any length, nor was OS-tan society outside of a few factions (mostly the Unix and Linux-tans).

The SAGE-tan chronicles, authored by Stewartsage, is perhaps the story that codified the "real world" theory as we know it today. In it, the setting of the OS-tans is plainly a variant of our own universe - in fact, the only major difference between this OS-tan continuity and the real world appears to be the presence of the OS-tans themselves (and subsequently forms of high-technology and/or magic). The story is set upon a geographically-correct world, with -tans explicitly hailing from real settings and belonging to factual organizations. In many ways it is the antipode of the Annex Project universe: with -tans portrayed as almost human, hardware-tans included, prominent OS- and hardware-kuns, characters being more-or-less true to their real-world time periods and earlier characters not particularly antiquated compared to contemporary ones. Unique to this continuity is the inclusion of very early computer-tans.