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The OS-tan (short for Operating System-tan) is a Moe Anthropomorphism of various Windows operating systems (or at least that's how it started out), and is now a common feature on the Japanese Futaba Channel (where they originated). In fact, web browsers, antivirus programs, and other applications have gotten similiar treatment.
The -tan is a deliberate mistranslation of the -chan suffix, as it's supposed to sound like something said by a small child (hence evoking cuteness)
Originally, the first OS-Tan was Windows ME-tan, who was drawn as a cute Idiot Haired Dojikko to represent how the actual Windows ME was highly unstable. Afterwards, several more Windows OS-tans were made, and eventually the premise exploded to making Moe versions of almost every OS or popular piece of hardware in existence. The cult popularity of the OS-tan characters led to Microsoft Japan creating Madobe Nanami, an official OS-tan, as a spokesperson for Windows 7.
In fact, this little phenomenon even sparked a fake trailer for an anime series called Trouble Windows, which has also been licensed as a name for artbooks depicting the OS-tans.
Video of the Trouble Windows trailer here
Tropes common to the OS-tans are:
- Ascended Meme (Nanami Madobe, a/k/a Windows 7-tan)
- Big Eater (XP-Tan, who often is shown holding up a big rice bowl labeled "Memory")
- Brother-Sister Incest (Homeko [XP Home Edition] has a crush on her Spear Counterpart brother "Homeo")
- Canon Foreigner (Windows 1.0, 2.0, and 3.2 (Chinese 3.1) -tan are regarded as this in fan works.
- Catgirl (Windows 2000-tan's hair clips make her look like one)
- Depraved Bisexual (Dr. Norton [Antivirus] is drawn as an ugly perverted ghost [after the Norton Ghost program] who keeps trying to ogle the Windows-tans at every oppurtunity, with XP-tan being his preferred victim. He also has an implied fetish for Bill Gates.)
- Dojikko (ME-tan)
- Elegant Gothic Lolita (How Windows 3.1-tan is often drawn)
- Cute Kitten (Windows 3.1-tan is always depicted holding a cute black kitten labeled "DOS")
- Hair Decorations (Nearly all the -tans have hair accessories, usually a cute stylized version of the logo of what they represent)
- Fan Girl (Windows CE-tan is a big In-Universe fan girl of the Dreamcast, as a variant on the CE OS code was used as the Dreamcast BIOS)
- Fiery Redhead (Windows 95-tan when mad)
- Furry Fandom (What the web browser Firefox and its companion email client Thunderbird are designed after)
- Girl with Psycho Weapon (SE-tan and her can opener, wielded with intent to castrate)
- Humongous Mecha (Windows 98 and 98SE-tan commonly ride around in ones that resemble snack boxes)
- Hospital Hottie (Miss Mc Afee [Antivirus] and AVG [Antivirus], who are both drawn as attractive, with the former being drawn as a monocled British woman and the latter as a good looking male student doctor)
- Improbable Weapon User (ME-tan often uses a leek for self defense)
- SE-tan uses a can opener.
- Instant Awesome, Just Add Ninja (Vista-tan has this look as a premise)
- Katanas Are Just Better (Windows 95-tan)
- Les Yay (With the advent of Virtual PC technology, pictures of Vista getting intimate with older versions of Windows sprouted out of the woodwork. Before them Windows 2000-tan was shown to have Girls Love tendencies in hentai works)
- Lady of War (Windows 95-tan)
- Meganekko (Windows 2K-tan)
- Moe Anthropomorphism (Usually as a cute girl or woman, though male versions exist)
- Pettanko (The less memory the OS requires, the smaller their boobs)
- Punny Name (Nanami Madobe means "Windows 7")
- NT-tan (NT 3.1/3.5/4.0) is called Inu T-tan, as the pronunciation is very similiar to the Japanese word "Inu", which means dog. In fact, Nt-tan is often drawn as a cheerful girl with dog ears)
- Serious Business (Windows 95-tan, in reference to how Windows 95 started off Microsoft's opening shot in its war to outdo Macintosh, gets downright Knight Templar when it comes to fighting Mac OS-tan's)
- Shrinking Violet (Windows 3.1, DOS-tan and Linux-tan are depicted like this)
- Spear Counterpart (Many OS-tan's originally drawn as girls have male counterparts)
- Stripperific (Vista-tan, due to the fact her clothes are transparent, in reference to the "Windows Aeroglass" theme)
- Stuff Blowing Up (Mac OS uses these [i.e.- bombs] as an attack)
- Tall, Dark and Bishoujo (Windows 2K-tan is often drawn this way, though XP-tan also has this look on occasion)
- Team Mom (Windows 95 and 2K-tan assume this role for the Windows OS-tans)
- Violation of Common Sense (Just pick something ME-tan does most of the time)
- White-Haired Pretty Girl (Windows 3.1-tan and some versions of Vista-tan look like this)
- Yamato Nadeshiko (Windows 95-tan and Mac OS 9/Sonata)
- Yaoi Fangirl (Homeko-tan)
- You Gotta Have Blue Hair (98-tan and 2K-tan. ME-tan and and 98 SE-tan have green hair)
- The Wiki Rule Besides having a page on The Other Wiki, there is an entire OS Tan Wiki
- Zettai Ryouiki: We have XP-tan, 7-tan among others.