Despite a rash of gushing news stories about the successes of Apple Computer's Mac OS X (on the client) and Linux (on the server), Windows not only continues to dominate its rivals in both markets but also is growing in both markets. Market researchers at IDC say that various versions of the Windows desktop and server OSs currently dominate their respective markets and will continue to do so for at least the next 4 years. IDC credits Microsoft's volume-licensing programs for the company's ability to grow its share when it's already the dominant player.
"As Microsoft has brought in \[Windows XP and Windows 2000\], there's been a lot of good reasons for customers to go out and buy brand new operating systems," IDC analyst Al Gillen said. "It's probably unrealistic to expect Microsoft to continue to drive the market as hard as it has been \[doing\]."
According to the report, "Worldwide Client and Server Operating Environment Market Forecast and Analysis, 2002-2007," Windows desktop OS sales worldwide increased from 93.2 percent of the market in 2001 to 93.8 percent in 2002, accounting for more than $9.75 billion in sales. Various Mac OS versions stalled in second place, with just 2.9 percent of the market (and 2.2 percent of the revenues), although IDC noted that Apple will soon relinquish second place to Linux, which saw desktop growth in 2002 to 2.3 percent of the market. All told, 121 million client OSs shipped in 2002, IDC says; about 113 million were XP, 3.5 million were Mac OS, and 2.9 million were Linux.
The server side of the equation also has an interesting breakdown. In 2002, Windows Server products owned 55.1 percent of the market, from a unit-shipment standpoint, up from 50.5 percent in 2001. Second-place Linux accounted for 23.1 percent of new shipments, up from 22.4 percent in 2001. Only Windows and Linux saw growth in 2002. Combined, all UNIX OS versions declined 8.9 percent year over year; Novell NetWare fell 12.4 percent.
IDC also noted that the SCO Group lawsuit against Linux companies is having an effect. "Even if the litigation is resolved, the incident may forever put to rest the notion that Linux is 'free' software that can be deployed on any machine without any accountability for ownership and licensing," the IDC report reads. "This weakens a major area of differentiation between Linux and more commercialized operating environments." However, IDC believes that the SCO lawsuit will be resolved and that Linux use will grow through 2007. Windows Server will still dwarf Linux during that time period, however, the report says. "Microsoft generates about the same amount of OS revenue in 3 days as the entire Linux industry generates in 1 year," IDC notes.