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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[3]: Some large inacuracies
By sarreq on 2017-08-02 21:26:43
Win95 through WinME could not boot the computer without DOS there doing so for them. whether they knocked DOS out of memory once they loaded or not is inconsequential. without DOS, none of them functioned. DOS is essentially their bootloader.

Windows wasn't a self contained OS until Windows NT (in workstations and servers), and XP (on home PCs).

on a side note, I've never tried this, but really should; I'm wondering if Windows 95 will run from FreeDOS.
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RE[2]: Nice idea, but it is too hard to set good criteria ...
By sarreq on 2017-08-02 21:33:18
Different CPU ≠ Different OS

Android runs on ARM, MIPS, and x86, but they're all Android.

Linux runs on many more, but they're all still Linux.

MacOS and OS X both started on one CPU architecture, and ended up on another, MacOS was still MacOS, and OS X is still OS X. and yes, I agree with this particular division, as OS X is more of a descendant of BSD and NeXT than it is of MacOS9.
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RE[3]: Some large inacuracies
By sarreq on 2017-08-02 21:37:05
It was not a stripped down version of DOS. Windows 95 through ME had absolutely full versions of DOS, and could not function without them.
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RE[3]: Nice idea, but it is too hard to set good criteria ...
By leech on 2017-08-02 23:18:40
AmigaOS3 and AmigaOS4 are very different. I guess technically MorphOS is out there too. Most view them as Amiga-NG systems. When you have to emulate to run the old software, there should be a division, agreed?
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RE[4]: Nice idea, but it is too hard to set good criteria ...
By sarreq on 2017-08-02 23:31:23
that i will agree to, yes.
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RE[3]: FreeDOS missing
By Morgan on 2017-08-03 00:39:07
Several of the OSes in the chart itself also are no longer being developed. That wasn't a metric for inclusion.
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RE[2]: Oldest
By grat on 2017-08-03 00:51:17
While FreeBSD has roots in ye olde Berkeley Standard Distribution, really, it started as 386BSD in '92, became FreeBSD in '93, and was heavily rewritten and released in '94 as FreeBSD 2.0 (with no AT&T code).

Since X11 was available from day 1, it's easy to say FreeBSD as a desktop OS has been around for 25+ years.

The lack of OS/2 on the graph is a bit peculiar, though. If you count eComStation and ArcaOS (makes as much sense as counting AmigaOS), then you're looking at 30 years of OS/2.
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RE[4]: IOS and Android
By MacMan on 2017-08-03 02:41:40
>
So if I put Audi rims on my Honda my Honda is now an Audi? Seriously?

Simplifying logic down to retarded.


Audi rims won't fit (5x112 vs 5x114.5), however most Ford rims will fit Hondas.

So I guess Hondas are Fords.
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RE[4]: Some large inacuracies
By Drumhellar on 2017-08-03 03:48:45
By that standard, Linux runs on top of DOS, when you boot via LOADLIN.EXE

I mean, the Linux kernel knocks DOS out of memory, but as you said, it's inconsequential.
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RE[4]: Some large inacuracies
By CATs on 2017-08-03 06:26:35
> It was not a stripped down version of DOS. Windows 95 through ME had absolutely full versions of DOS, and could not function without them.
They could, and did function without them just fine.
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