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Box art of Windows 8.1 Pro DSP Memorial Pack with a group of OS-tans from left to right: Claudia (Microsoft Azure), Yuu and Ai (Windows 8.1), and Nanami Madobe (Windows 7).

OS-tan is an Internet meme consisting of moe anthropomorphs of popular operating systems, originating on the Japanese imageboard Futaba Channel. The designs of OS-tan, which were created by various amateur Japanese artists, are typically female; for example, the personifications of Microsoft Windows operating systems are often depicted as sisters of varying ages. The -tan element in the term is a hypocoristic suffix in Japanese that implies extremely youthful endearment.

Though initially appearing only in fan works, the OS-tan proved popular enough that Microsoft branches in Singapore and Taiwan used the OS-tan concept as the basis for ad campaigns for Internet Explorer and Microsoft Silverlight, respectively.[1][2]


The concept of the OS-tan is reported to have begun as a personification of the common perception of Windows Me (Released in 2000 by Microsoft as the 9x counterpart to Windows 2000) as unstable and prone to frequent crashes. Discussions on Futaba Channel likened this to the stereotype of a fickle, troublesome girl and as this personification expanded Me-tan was created and followed by the other characters.[3][better source needed][circular reference] One of the early works to predominantly feature the OS-tan was an interactive Flash animation showing a possible intro to an imaginary anime show known as Trouble Windows. It was first published on April 2004 and appears to have quickly spread worldwide.[4][unreliable source?]

Commercial products[edit]

Ohzora Publishing produced one book based on OS-tan characters, titled Trouble Windows OS-tan FanBook (とらぶる・うぃんどうず OSたんファンブック).[5] It includes illustrations by over 25 contributors.[6] It also includes 95-tan, ME-tan, XP-tan figures, titled OS Girl 95, OS Girl me, OS Girl XP respectively,[7] but include a molded space for 2k-tan (named OS Girl 2K).[8]

ME-tan, 2K-tan, XP-tan were designed by GUHICO of Stranger Workshop,[9][10] while 95-tan was designed by Fujisaki Shiro from H.B.Company.[11]

Parthenon Production Limited, company had commercialized Pink Company's OS-tan products.[12]

MALINO from Deja Vu ArtWorks produced the Me Document and Shared Folder! trilogy, which were sold in digital format.[13]

Japanese version of Windows 7 Ultimate DSP Edition includes the unofficial Nanami Madobe mascot. This inspired Microsoft Taiwan to launch an official mascot for Microsoft Silverlight, Hikaru. This was followed up by giving Hikaru "sisters", Lei, Aoi, and Yu.

A special package of the Japanese Windows 7 Ultimate DSP Edition, called the Touch Mouse Artist Edition or Touch Mouse Limited Edition Artist Series, came with an animated tutorial Windows theme (with custom sounds and three desktop backgrounds) featuring Madobe Nanami.[14][15]

In 2009, an Ubuntu-based comic titled Ubunchu! was serialized in Kantan Ubuntu!, a spinoff from Weekly ASCII magazine.[16] It was authored by Hiroshi Seo, with English version translated by Fumihito Yoshida, Hajime Mizuno, Martin Owens, Arturo Silva, and Anton Ekblad.[17]

Tan suffix[edit]

The Japanese suffix tan (たん) is a mispronunciation of chan (ちゃん), an informal, intimate, and diminutive honorific suffix for a person, used for friends, family, and pets.[18] 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 and is also sometimes added to the names of non-mascot characters. The personifications as a whole are commonly simply called mascots or mascot characters, and as such the -tan suffix itself means nothing outside its role as an honorific and its implications of cuteness. Normal suffixes, including -san, -chan, and -kun are also used in the name of some OS-tan, depending on the character and the speaker's preference; the suffix may indeed be omitted entirely.

New generation OS-tans[edit]

While there are mascots of Windows versions from 7 to 10, there is currently no such mascot for Windows 11.

Windows 10[edit]

The name of the Windows 10 mascot was officially introduced as Tōko (or Touko) Madobe on 31 July 2015.[19] As confirmed on the character's official Facebook page, her name is a homonym for one of the readings for the Japanese word for 'ten': too (とお).[20] Her name was chosen by fans through an online poll. According to her fictional profile, her origins are the Madobe family and she is set 100 years in the future. She likes online gaming and supporting others. Her personal traits are being an excellent student, and expanding her knowledge on technology. Her manager often worries since she’s a bit spontaneous. She also enjoys cheering on people who are working hard and doing their best. She has a part-time job at the Akibano Custom Computer Company where she is a rookie. This level of back story is rather unusual for OS-tan.

Windows 8.1[edit]

The Japanese Windows 8.1 Pro DSP edition Madobe Family version by Windows Navi+ (Techno-Alliance Corp.) is a limited (1000 units) version of Windows 8.1 Pro 32/64-bit edition with three types of Madobe family picture password wallpapers, Madobe character voices (Nanami, Yū, Ai, Claudia), Madobe family complete edition Windows theme pack, previously unpublished Madobe family designs, Final Pasocom Data Hikkoshi 9+ licence key, Skype three-month free trial, historical Windows logo stickers (XP, Vista, 7, 8). Other editions include a Memorial Pack version without voice, theme pack, stickers (6191 units); a 64-bit Windows Memorial Pack version with a Sculpt Mobile Mouse with Nanami decor (810 units). These editions were available for preorder on 2013-10-04 with release date on 2013-10-18.[21][22][23] As part of the market launch, a Facebook draw of 8 followers took place when follower count reaches 80001; and total Twitter follower count for Yū and Ai reach 8001, where winners receive Yū- and Ai-themed prizes.[24]

Additional types of Windows 8.1 Pro DSP edition Madobe family theme packs were also sold by Ark (TowerHill), ZOA Corporation, Tsukumo (Project White), Dospara, Buy More (Unit.com), Big Camera (Sofmap), and PC One. These versions include two types of wallpapers (Christmas, New Year), theme pack with system voices.[25]

Windows 8[edit]

The Japanese Windows 8 Pro DSP editions were released in Madobe Yū (or Yuu, 窓辺ゆう) and Madobe Ai (窓辺あい) editions by Windows Navi+ (Techno-Alliance Corp.). Both versions (4,000 units per character, thus 8,000 total) include a Microsoft Wedge touch mouse with the Windows 8 logo, character-specific Windows theme (three theme pack wallpapers, event sounds in the respective character's voice), picture password images.[26] In addition, Limited Akihabara Editions (444 units per character, 888 total), sold in Tokyo's Akihabara shopping district, include Madobe Ai/Yū edition of Microsoft Wedge Touch Mouse, an alternate character-specific event sound samples and theme pack and an alternate wallpaper for its respective character.[27] Nipponbashi versions (500 units per character), sold in Nipponbashi in Osaka, include Microsoft Wedge touch mouse (with Ai and Yū decal), three theme pack wall papers (two common and one character-specific), and Yū or Ai event sounds. The Nipponbashi packages include different art.[28][29][30][31] The 32/64-bit version availability depends on retailer.

Asuka Nishi voices the short-haired Yū, while Nao Tamura voices the long-haired Ai.[32][33]

The Windows 8 Can Edition from Unitcom (available for the first 2,888 copies) included notepad, T-shirt, two-way mouse pad, pocket media case, smart phone stand cleaning, two-way PC cleaner, Yū and Ai badges, and a freeze blanket.[clarification needed][34]

The extended fictional Madobe family tree detailed that Yū is the older sister, and their parents are Eiichi (映一(えいいち)) from the Netsu (根津) family and Shii (椎(しい)) from the Madobe family.[35] Yū and Ai were said to have a birthdate of 18 November 1996 (Windows CE's release date) with age 15, with height of 152 cm.[36] This conflicts with other back-story materials suggesting that Ai is the younger sister.

MasatakaP and Electrocutica produced a Windows 8 music video titled "Through the Window", featuring Madobe characters Nanami, Yū (in silhouette), and Claudia. The video was presented as the opening to Microsoft's keynote on the second day of Windows Developer Days in Japan.[37]

In 2012 and 2013, Windows Navi+ (Techno-Alliance Corp.) also created separate Twitter accounts for Ai and Yū, respectively.[38][39][40]

Two theme songs for Yū and Ai – "Mir8cle Days" (ミラクルデイズ) and "Donna Mirai Demo" (どんな未来でも) were unveiled on 15 June 2013, and sold as a CD bundled with Windows 8 Pro DSP Edition, sold at TwinBox Akihabara.[41][42][43]

Windows 7[edit]

Akiba PC reported that the first 7777 copies of Japanese Windows 7 Ultimate DSP editions[44] include special wallpaper and sound sets for a character called Nanami Madobe (窓辺ななみ, Madobe Nanami), voiced by Nana Mizuki. The character was designed by Wakaba.[45] The premium set includes a Windows 7 theme featuring 3 Nanami wallpapers, 19 event sound sets, CD with 5 extra Nanami sounds. Regular DSP edition includes a digest Windows 7 theme including a Nanami wallpaper, an event sound set; the preorder users can also download an extra Nanami wallpaper and 6 event sound sets. This makes it the first OS-tan marketed by the company producing the operating system. In addition, the character also got its own Twitter account.[46]

During the initial sales event of the Windows 7 DSP edition, the official profile of the character has also been revealed.[47] It shows Madobe Nanami was born in 1992-04-06 (release date of Windows 3.1) 17 years of age(at the time of release), who lives in Chiyoda, Tokyo. Nanami is among an extended family of 16 members, and she has elder brother named Goichi (吾一), elder sister named Mutsumi (むつみ), mother named Mikaho (美佳穗) from Madobe (窓辺) family, father named Kyuuhachi (究八) from Shirato (白戸) family. Nanami and her cousin Claudia Madobe (クロード(蔵人)) later appeared in Microsoft's Cloud Girl comic strip.[48]

Critical reception[edit]

Wired News rated OS-tan among the "Lamest Technology Mascots Ever", yet "strangely compelling".[49]

The influence of OS-tan would spark similar phenomena such as Console-tan, based on video game consoles.[50]

See also[edit]


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External links[edit]