One week ago, the Institute of Software under Chinese Academy of Sciences unveiled China Operating System (COS) together with Shanghai Liantong Internet Technologies Ltd, as reported by CCTV, China’s state-owned TV station.

COS team claims it’s a self-developed mobile operating system that is similar to the mainstream mobile OSs, but has a closed app store, through verification, to make sure of app security and open APIs that third-party developers still can create apps for it.

COS (screen shot from the CCTV report)

The report says there have been over 100,000 apps available for COS and tens of thousands of users. Tech industry people immediately questioned how come there had been so many apps if it was a newly launched operating system?

Chinese Academy of Sciences claimed it was developed on top of Linux directly and the majority of the development work, apart from a small part, was by COS team themselves.

Then came the rumor that the development was assisted by engineers from HTC’s parent company and the system looks a lot like Sense, the custom Android system by HTC. Shanghai Liantong said in an interview with People’s Daily Online that they reached out to many Chinese phone makers including HTC but who’d be the first to produce phones loaded with COS is up to them (People’s Daily report).

Now the system is available on a few sites for download. Audience on this site found out that it’s just like the one by YLMF, a custom Windows Phone 7 firmware launched in 2012. YLMF is known for developing custom operating systems, from PC to mobile. It sounds reasonable as there are millions of apps available if it’s an Android fork while the number for Windows Phone apps is not far from 100,000.

Alibaba’s Aliyun and a few other Chinese companies once claimed they managed to have self-developed mobile operating systems but those turned out to be custom Android systems.

Tracey Xiang is Beijing, China-based tech writer. Reach her at

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