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How old are operating systems?
By Thom Holwerda on 2017-08-01 23:09:59

Today, it hit me that iOS is already ten years old. I consider iOS a relatively new and fresh operating system, but can we really say that at ten years old? In order to figure that out, I quickly threw together a little graph to visualise the age of both current and deprecated operating systems to get a better look at the age of operating systems.

It counts operating system age in terms of years from initial public release (excluding beta or preview releases) to the last release (in case of deprecated operating systems) or until today (in case of operating systems still in active development). I've included mainly popular, successful, consumer-oriented operating systems, leaving out more server or embedded oriented operating systems (such as UNIX and QNX), which tend to have vastly different needs and development cycles.

As far as the nomenclature goes, Windows 9x includes everything from Windows 1.0 to Windows ME, and Mac OS covers System 1 through Mac OS 9.2.2. Windows CE is currently called Windows Embedded Compact, but its line also includes Windows Phone 7, Windows Mobile, and Windows PocketPC.

Red indicates the operating system is no longer being developed, whereas green means it's still under active development. The only question mark in this regard is Windows CE; its latest release is Embedded Compact 2013 in 2013, and while I think it's still in development, I'm not entirely sure.

This graph isn't a scientifically accurate, well-researched, quotable piece of information - it takes many shortcuts and brushes several questions aside for brevity's sake. For instance, looking at the last official release doesn't always make sense, such as with Windows Service Packs or Mac OS X point releases, and I haven't even been entirely consistent with these anyway.

On top of that, the graph doesn't take months or weeks into account, and just counts everything in terms of years. Linux shouldn't technically be included at all (since it's just a kernel), and you can conceivably argue that, for instance, Mac OS X is older than its initial release in the form of 10.0 since it's so heavily based on NEXTSTEP. Amiga OS is also a bit of a stretch, since its development pace is slow and has even died down completely on several occasions. You could maybe possibly argue that BeOS is still in active development in the form of Haiku, but I consider Haiku a reimplementation, and not a continuation.

In any event, I originally wasn't planning on doing anything with this, but I figured I might as well publish it here since it's an interesting overview.

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Makes no sense
By CATs on 2017-08-02 11:14:49
As many people already pointed out, there are sooo many problems with this "data" and your approach to interpreting said data, that entire thing is completely moot/irrelevant.
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RE[2]: IOS and Android
By CATs on 2017-08-02 11:19:45
Let's make a simple rule: if it has it's own kernel, it's a different OS. If it uses same kernel as something else, it's NOT a different OS.

Edited 2017-08-02 11:20 UTC
Permalink - Score: 0
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RE[3]: Some large inacuracies
By dylansmrjones on 2017-08-02 11:40:08
Technically speaking they did. Also win9x came with a full dos and not a limited dos. Everytime an application was launched in win9x dos was invoked to allocate a small memory block to said application. And win.com was itself running as a dos application, using a memory extender to bypass the 640 kB barrier.

Novell Netware otoh, only used dos during boot after which dos was terminated and removed entirely from the system, unlike win9x/me which merely partially bypasses dos.

The notion win9x/me did not depend on dos is a relatively new idea, and outright silly. Dos was not merely bundled with Windows9x. It was Windows 9x.
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RE: FreeDOS missing
By dwelch67 on 2017-08-02 12:03:49
DOS in general (not necessarily or just freedos) is very much alive and well today and in constant use. So the age is incorrect on the chart. Just about 40 years depending on when you start counting (1977 or 1980 or 81, etc)

You generally touch or are with someone who touches a device/computer one to a many times per day that are either running DOS or DOS was used in their production.
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RE[3]: IOS and Android
By dpJudas on 2017-08-02 12:07:21
> Let's make a simple rule: if it has it's own kernel, it's a different OS. If it uses same kernel as something else, it's NOT a different OS.
That would make Server/Desktop Linux and Android the same OS.
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RE[4]: Some large inacuracies
By dpJudas on 2017-08-02 12:10:44
> The notion win9x/me did not depend on dos is a relatively new idea, and outright silly. Dos was not merely bundled with Windows9x. It was Windows 9x.
Well, Windows 95 disabled virtually all of DOS, unless you had some 16-bit legacy device driver loaded:

https://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/...
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RE[3]: Makes no sense
By ahferroin7 on 2017-08-02 12:12:12
Except if you equate 'last release' to 'death' as Thom appears to be in this case, the use of the term 'age' makes perfect sense. The problem is that most people don't think like this.. As an example, I and most other sysadmins I know consider a piece of software 'dead' when it is both no longer actively developed, and is not used anywhere in production, which would equate to the present day with nothing on the list being dead for all the listed operating systems (although quite a few not on this list (such as Multics) are functionally 'dead' by this measure).
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RE[3]: Years are messed up??
By judgen on 2017-08-02 12:30:28
Soo not the point of this timeline.
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RE[3]: Some large inacuracies
By judgen on 2017-08-02 12:31:50
No it was full dos. To acces DOS8 in ME was nothing more than a bin hack with a simple hex editor to the boot loader.
Permalink - Score: 3
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FreeDOS
By jessesmith on 2017-08-02 12:35:20
Based on this graph, and accepting its methods, it looks like FreeDOS would be one of the longest lived operating systems. I think it's been in development for around 25 years now, longer than the life of the system it was based on. I guess the same applies to Haiku, which has had a longer life span than BeOS by a long shot.
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