OS-9 is modular, allowing new devices to be added to the system simply by writing new device drivers, or if a similar device already exists, by simply creating a new device descriptor. All I/O devices can be treated as files, which unifies the I/O system. In addition, the kernel and all user programs are ROMable. Thus, OS-9 can run on any supported hardware platform from simple diskless embedded control systems to large multiuser minicomputers.
Originally developed for the 6809 microprocessor, OS-9 was a joint effort between Microware and Motorola. The original version of OS-9 (OS-9 Level I) was capable of addressing 64 kilobytes of memory. OS-9 Level II took advantage of dynamic address translation hardware, and allowed a mapped address space of one megabyte on most systems, and up to two megabytes on others, most notably the Tandy Color Computer 3.
In the 1980's, Microware ported OS-9 to the 68000 family of microprocessors, creating OS-9/68000, which is used in a variety of industrial and commercial arenas, including Philips' CD-i and most recently, set-top boxes for interactive television. Microware is constantly added processor support to OS-9000. Currently supported processors include 68xxx, PPC, X86, Intel SARM / IXP, MIPS, SPARC, Hitachi SH.
OS-9000 is a portable version of OS-9, written primarily in C. It is available for the Intel (386 and higher), PowerPC processors, ARM, StrongArm, SH, MIPS, and Sparc. Code is portable across OS-9000 platforms and between OS-9 at the source code level. Theoretically, OS-9000 can be ported to any modern computer architecture. Currenlty Microware refers to all ports of OS-9000 as OS-9.