The OS girls
The more cutesy personification of the much maligned and infamously unreliable Windows ME OS, ME-tan’s appearance rarely varies and was the first OS-tan created, by the one now called ‘ME-aki’. She is instantly recognizable; she has green hair in long pigtails and wears a maid outfit with a ! badge on the front in the spirit of the Windows yellow error icon. ME-tan is a hard worker and always wants to help her master (Toshiaki), but predictably fails at everything she tries to do, and often literally crashing and irritating her sisters. When she is not frozen or out of control, she tends to do things showing a lack of common sense or knowledge, such as putting soda into a microwave oven or attempting to kill people by swinging a scallion (see below). In spite of, or perhaps due to, her pitiful plight, the clumsy ME-tan is one of the most beloved OS girls.
Windows XP Pro
Windows XP Home
XP is a sexy, dark-haired girl wearing the XP logo as a hair ribbon. As XP is sometimes criticized for bloating a system and being very pretty without being equally as useful, XP-tan wears very little and has large breasts. Also, as XP uses up large amount of memory, XP-tan eats a lot, usually holding a large empty bowl with the word “memory” on it, but still requests more. A rare variant that represents XP Home features a more reserved look, akin to 2K Pro-tan. She has XP shaped hairclips instead of a ribbon, and tends to wear her hair up in a short ponytail. An even rarer variant, for XP Media Center Edition, has short hair and small earrings in the style of XP Professional’s hairclip.
A few variants exist, but the most common is Win2K Professional. She is typically drawn as an intelligent, professional, reserved looking woman with short blue hair, glasses, and hairclips that resemble cat ears flanking a small white bonnet or ruffle, similar to maid’s hairclip, that shows the windows logo. Her outfit resembles a swimsuit suggesting the Windows logo colors, and she wears a long coat. This is thought to reflect the opinion that Windows 2000 is the most stable, dependable, and balanced system. She is characterized as the “dependable woman” among the OS-tans and one of the domain controllers. Because of the greater stability of Win2K compared with WinME, which was released near 2K, 2K-tan is often described as a guardian of ME-tan. The blue in the picture is close to the default Windows 2000 desktop colour.
95, being an older version of “modern” Windows, is usually represented as a traditional lady from the early modern era of Japan. She is a gentle-looking brown haired woman in a kimono, with a hair ribbon showing the four Windows colors. The pattern of her kimono is based off the file “hana256.bmp,” which was used as a desktop wallpaper pattern in the Japanese version of Windows. Moreover, the color of the big ribbon on her head imitates the logo of four colors of Windows. Her costume is a traditional kimono and a hakama of Japan, and she wears thick sandals (geta or zori?) on her feet. These are women’s college student’s typical clothes as seen in the earliest period during the course of the modernization in Japan (from the Meiji period to the Taisho period), and the cultural background for the comparison of the modernization of Windows to modernization of Japan is seen there.
Her most common activities are drinking tea, serving meals or doing other housework. One recurring theme is her unfamiliarity with newer, post Win-95 technologies, such as USB devices and broadband internet connections. She is also occasionally depicted wielding a katana in an aggressive manner, symbolizing that it was her generation of operating systems that Microsoft finally achieved full dominance of the personal computer market. One comic strip shows her talking to other OS-tans about beating up the Mac girls; and 95 is commonly portrayed with an overwhelming hatred of the Macintosh OS Tans.
Because Mozilla Firefox is incompatible with Windows 95, several OS-tan four-panel comics have been made portraying other OS-tans encouraging 95-tan to “think in Russian!” and 95-tan’s inability to internalize the Russian language enough to accomplish this.
Windows 95 OSR 2.5
The last patched version of 95, Windows 95 OSR 2.5, resembles the first but has shorter hair, and outfits are black and dark coloured versions of 95’s. She also has a more extroverted personality. She also seems to regard 98-tan as a rival, and is sometimes seen wearing a black skirt, black gloves, and a white sleeveless shirt like 98, but with a red tie and black 95 style bow.
98 and 98SE
Windows 98’s Mech
Windows 98SE’s Mech
Many variants exist; however, the most common are a pair of young girls. The First Edition of 98 has a white and blue uniform, navy blue hair with a clip shaped like “98” and has a windows logo as part of a necktie. The 98 Second Edition mascot normally has grey-blue hair and a green sailor school uniform with the letters SE on the front.
Two early versions that continue to be used alongside the girls are a pair of stick-limbed snack-boxes with a face and version number drawn in crayon, based on the ‘Vulcan 300’ toy that appeared in the anime series Konjiki no Gash Bell!! (Zatch Bell!). In the very early days before the designs of the primary OS-tans had settled, generic stick-limbed boxes were often used as placeholders; there had been instances of small DOS and Windows 3.11 boxes before other designs gained popularity. Both girls now make regular use of these as ‘mechanical suits’. The ‘mech-box’ used by 98 is blue in colour, and likewise the 98SE mech-box has a green theme. The mechs are sometimes shown as guardians or friends to the 98-tans, otherwise the two girls can be seated inside them as pilots. The box sizes can vary, ranging from doll-like when carried by the girls to taller than an adult when they ride inside them.
While both are fairly shy girls, 98SE is seen hiding in her mech-box a lot more often.
This character is not very common. She usually has the purple hair and the pink dress seen here, but her age can range from child to adult. Sometimes she is also portrayed as the mother of 2K-tan.
Another version, Windows NT Workstation, also exists and has recently been more common than the original NT-tan, at least on the Futaba image boards. “NT” has the romaji representation of “enu ti”—this sounds a lot like “inu ti”, and “inu” is the Japanese word for dog. Inu-T has blue hair, dog ears, a dog’s tail and a necklace. She usually wears gloves and boots shaped like paws, and colored blue to match her ears and tail.
Yet another NT-tan, Windows NT SP6, was designed by the dōjinshi group Deja vu, but it was considered a bootleg design by Futaba society and not an “official” OS-Tan. (See “Dispute between Futaba Society and Deja Vu” for the details.)
Being an OS designed for small devices, the personification of Windows CE (CE for short) is portrayed as diminutive and fairy-like; complete with gossamer wings and wielding a USB cable wand. Because a modified version of Windows CE was the operating system of the Sega Dreamcast console, there are several illustrations of CE standing upon or around the Dreamcast’s “swirl” logo.
This character doesn’t have many pictures and not much is known about her as she is based on Microsoft Operating System Windows Longhorn, which is still in development. One picture shows her as a girl with dark blue hair and two horns extending from the back of her head to the front; her clothing is all white except across the shoulders where it’s black and there are the letters L and H on her chest. A design becoming more common is a young girl with long brown hair in pigtails wearing one or two clips featuring an orange and black logo resembling a stylized bull’s head.
2003 Server (Saba)
Windows 2003 Server
2003 Server is often portrayed as being half-girl, half-fish, with an ethernet hub as a bonnet on her head. Other versions show her as a girl with a short white skirt and a vest-style top with a long tail in the back (usually with a bow) and Windows four-square logo pins in the bow at her neck and on the tail. In some forms, she has a belt made from ethernet cable wrapped around her waist. Saba is a pun: in Japanese, the word for “server” is pronounced “saaba”, while “saba” is the word for mackerel.
A rare character, the few appearances of Windows 3.1 have used a white ‘mech-box’ similar to that used by 98 and 98SE, piloted by a girl who appears to be DOS/V. Another version becoming more popular is a frail grey-haired young woman in a long frilly violet gown, with a “3.1” brooch on her collar. She is usually accompanied by either a black cat or a small black-haired catgirl in a nurse’s outfit, both representing DOS.
Unreleased Microsoft Operating Systems
Occasionally, artwork appears for internally developed versions of Windows, that were never or still have yet to be commercially released, such as those with the project names Blackcomb, Odyssey, and Windows Neptune.
Neptune was to have been the “Home Edition” of Windows 2000, but was dropped as a release project in favor of Windows ME. The currently preferred OS-tan character design has her resembling an Android from the online game Phantasy Star Online. She is easily recognized by the visor she wears, and a Shinto O-fuda demon-protection charm being used to keep her banished from the real world.
Odyssey, the second attempt at a “Home” version of Windows 2000, appears as a senior high-school girl in a blue-themed uniform, wearing glasses and a gold CDR disc as a hairpiece or halo. As this operating system was never formally published, its release was limited to a impromptu supply from the developers’ own desktop CD burners, using gold CDR blanks.
(The third attempt to merge the functionality of the Windows NT and Windows 9X Operating Systems into a single product, project Whistler, is better known today as Windows XP.)
A rarer character, MS-DOS is a cute but very shy little girl carrying around a keyboard and usually peeking around corners. The implication is that, like MS-DOS itself on non-NT versions of Windows, she is always lurking somewhere in the background, just out of sight.
DOS/V is a variant of MS-DOS designed with Japanese language support. She is about the same size as DOS but has long grey or grey-blue hair and a dark bodysuit. She is also a lot less shy.
Mac OS 9
Mac OS 9
Mac OS 9
Mac OS 9 is the most common Mac OS girl. She is blonde, and wears a ribbon shaped like a 9 and a “platinum white” bodysuit. She usually carries a large apple on her head, or a bomb from the standard Macintosh error dialog. Other common accessories are a white dress with the Mac face logo on the skirt with a slit up the front that follows the nose/profile line, and showing some of her hair like the “detached leaf” as used by the multi-coloured Apple Computer logo. Usually friendly and demure, OS 9 has been known to fly into insane rages when angered.
Mac OS X
Mac OS X
The Mac OS X girl is often portrayed as cat-eared, following with the Apple “wild cat” naming tradition. (Every Mac OS X release has a codename like “Jaguar”, “Panther” and so on.) Otherwise, she is shown as an older variation of the Mac OS 9 girl, wearing a platinum white coat and a wireless AirPort device fashioned as a hat. She is occasionally shown holding a publication of some sort, as Macs are often used for desktop publishing.
A girl with blue and green hair who wears a white shirt. As the color of her hair is similar to that of a scallion, she is usually referred to as “Scallion girl”. She represents the LindowsOS distribution of Linux, now known as Linspire.
Originally seen as a bearded penguin (a reference to Tux, the penguin mascot of the kernel program Linux), the more friendly image of a girl with helmet and flippers was chosen as a human alternative. Her helmet usually has horns on it, likely a reference to the GNU operating system which is usually run with Linux as its kernel program (hence “GNU/Linux”). The “gear-teeth” on the helmet is a reference to KDE, a common desktop environment used with GNU/Linux. She is often seen with a spear that has flags attached representing the GRUB, LILO and GCC tools for GNU/Linux.
Doctor Norton, an unspeakably lecherous old doctor, personifies the Symantec Norton AntiVirus software. While an ingenious physician, he is infamously known to request (and attempt) the total undressing of an OS-tan for a full physical inspection, even when they’re completely healthy. The doctor’s lust has no bounds, and his morality is void. His appearance as a Japanese ghost (the whisp of smoke style tail end instead of legs) is a reference to the Norton Ghost system recovery tool.
Trend Micro Virus Buster
Trend Micro Buster
A personification of another antivirus software. He is a young boy, with blonde hair who wears a white T-shirt with the words “Trend Micro” on it and red shorts. He wears a red cap backwards, a band-aid on his cheek and carries a blue satchel bag. It seems that he also likes to take a peep at OS-tans’ bodies, so-called “virus scan”, just like Doctor Norton.
A personification of another antivirus software, but images of this character are rare. Unlike the two antivirus programs above, McAfee Antivirus is a blonde woman, wearing a long red dress. She is occasionally seen wearing a monocle, or period European wear, also in a red-yellow coloring scheme. It seems that both Doctor Norton and Trend Micro welcome her existence, due to her beauty.
A personification of typical anonymous users that visit the image boards of Futaba (i.e. Nijiura). Sometimes portrayed as the OS-tans’ “master”, representing computer users in general. He is as perverted as Norton, if not more so. There is a short series of comics in which he tries to take advantage of the OS-tans by getting them drunk, but gets beaten up each time.
The name “Toshiaki” comes from Futaba Channel, where it is the default name for anonymous users.
Based on Microsoft Outlook, a blonde girl in a blue maid uniform, with a white apron and orange collar bow. Delivers mail to the OS-tans.
Alternate Male OS Characters
Referred to as the “OS-kuns”, where “-kun” is the Japanese honorific commonly used informally between males, are counterpart characters of the OS-tans.
XP-kun is large man in his late teens to early 20s, with a very muscular build, wears shackles on his wrists and legs, tattered blue and white clothing not unlike XP-tan’s, and several large scars forming the letters “XP” across his chest. His hair is black, and braided into a long ponytail. XP-kun has an aggressive temperment, and is known for not thinking things through.
ME-kun is a unremarkable boy of high-school age wearing a green uniform, a blazer and shorts, of a private academy. Like his female counterpart he has green hair, with the long ‘antenna’; but unlike ME-tan, he is often the one in charge of a situation, providing network connections, fixpacks, or reading the Help documentation to the OS-tans.
2k-kun is a rare character, but his appearance and behavior follows the style of 2k-tan, wearing business attire, fashionable reading glasses, and carries a cell-phone.