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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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RE: Nice idea, but it is too hard to set good criteria ...
By judgen on 2017-08-02 12:36:47
March 2001 was the last Haage release, 2006 was the first hyperion release, however shitload of patches and fixes was released in between. For example the ctdl lock bug was fixed and Hyperion had the source all this time, and was just not allowed to release a full OS because of that asshole Bill McEwen, as he retained the name and the rights to the 3.1 source code.
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RE[4]: Some large inacuracies
By dpJudas on 2017-08-02 12:38:48
> 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.
Correct, unless you executed win.com. Then Windows took over and virtually nothing of DOS was left (see the link in my other post).
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RE[4]: Some large inacuracies
By CATs on 2017-08-02 12:43:09
> 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.

Technically you are just plain wrong. See comment by dpJudas above for explanation.
Windows 9x did not run "on top" of DOS. They had DOS as a component for backwards compatibility, but did not run "on top" of it. At best, you could say they ran "side by side". And in ideal circumstances Windows 9x could do away without any DOS at all.

Edited 2017-08-02 12:45 UTC
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RE[4]: Years are messed up??
By jal_ on 2017-08-02 12:43:40
From the article:
> It counts operating system age in terms of years from initial public release (excluding beta or preview releases) to the last release
So 86-DOS definitely doesn't count, since it never had a public release. With MS-DOS it's less straight forward, since MS-DOS 7 and 8 have never had a seperate release from Windows (95 and ME respectively). MS-DOS 6.22 is the last independent version of MS-DOS released, in 1994.
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RE[2]: FreeDOS missing
By CATs on 2017-08-02 12:43:47
> 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.

I'm sorry, but what??? Did you use Google Translate to translate this post to English? Because I don't understand what you were trying to say.
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RE[4]: IOS and Android
By CATs on 2017-08-02 12:46:02
> > 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.

Which, in essence, it is.
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RE[2]: Some large inacuracies
By sakeniwefu on 2017-08-02 12:47:55
Wow! I guess people back then(including me as a child) had lots of patience. I don't know how I never noticed that screen allowed for input!

I think it's not fair to call Win16 a DOS program. It was an operating system, more than DOS ever was. It was no less of an operating system than Linux, which you could call a BIOS or UEFI program.
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RE: Interesting Chart, Include More?
By cybergorf on 2017-08-02 13:04:50
> Aside from the number of years and questions posted by others, I'd like to see some additional entries. Focusing on consumer-grade operating systems, I'd say OS/2 is missing. OS/2 is arguably still maintained and just made a release this year.

I question the validity of 31 years of AmigaOS.


If you think OS/2 is missing, than AmigaOS is definitively valid.
There is even a new bugfix release recompiled from original source for the 68k branch by Hyperion from last year.
(If you don't want to consider the PPC reimplementation as the real real)
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Also missing:
By cybergorf on 2017-08-02 13:15:18
Solaris (OpenSolaris still uses Sun code)
Symbian (since PalmOS and WinCE are in the list)
JavaME (since Android is in the list)
VMS (!!!)
CP/M

Edited 2017-08-02 13:18 UTC
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RE: Also missing:
By CATs on 2017-08-02 13:53:19
> Solaris (OpenSolaris still uses Sun code)
Symbian (since PalmOS and WinCE are in the list)
JavaME (since Android is in the list)
VMS (!!!)
CP/M

O yes! Solaris, Symbian and VMS are absolutely necessary in such list. How can one include Android and iOS but skip Symbian is beyond me... It wasn't some kind of niche or little known OS — it was The King (at it's time, of course).
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