Windows Owns Desktop, Extends Lead in Server Market

As Microsoft's appeal of its antitrust violations finally gets underway, an International Data Corporation (IDC) study highlights Microsoft's market dominance on the desktop--and increasingly, on the server as well. According to the report, Microsoft's desktop share has grown from 89 percent last year to 92 percent this year. But what's even more amazing is that Microsoft's share of the server market has outgrown upstart Linux, leaping from 38 percent of the market last year to 41 percent this year. Linux also grew, but at a slower rate than in the past, and the growth of this open-source OS is apparently coming at the expense of Novell and various versions of UNIX, not Windows 2000 and Windows NT. Linux grew from 25 percent of the market last year to 27 percent this year.
  
On the client side, Windows is king. Shipments of Win2K, NT 4.0, Windows Millennium Edition (Windows Me), and Windows 9x represent the vast majority of the computing world, which comes as no surprise. Win95 sales, naturally, have fallen fairly dramatically as the world transitions to Windows Me and Win98; overall the Win9x line grew 8 percent. On the desktop, the Macintosh has just 4 percent of the market share, and Linux remains a bit player, with only 1 percent of the market. Given the relative immaturity of that product's desktop tools and a dearth of full-featured end-user applications, this news isn't a huge surprise; Linux tends to perform better in the server market. That Windows desktop usage was able to grow at all is somewhat amazing and completely unexpected. Just last July, IDC predicted that Windows' desktop share would drop appreciably between 1999 and 2004.
  
The server picture is somewhat different than many analysts had expected, given the reportedly wild pace of early server growth for Linux. IDC notes that the company has had to change the way it reports OS usage because many people get a copy of Linux bundled with a network interface card or other piece of hardware but never actually install it; IDC has had to restate its 1999 Linux usage figures accordingly. On the server side, Windows usage grew 20 percent, while Linux grew 24 percent; both of these figures outpace the industry average of less than 13 percent. IDC reports that Red Hat, Caldera, and Turbo-Linux are the most often used Linux distributions on the server.
  
IDC didn't release revenue figures, but as usual, revenues present a sharp contrast to the usage scenario. Because Linux is often given away free or sold inexpensively, Linux revenues represent less than 1 percent of the overall market. Linux companies are definitely feeling the financial pinch; a consolidation of the industry has caused stock-price dives, layoffs, mergers, and even bankruptcies. Linux companies, in general, are trying to transition to a service revenue model, although the going has been rough for most.
  
In related news, the latest Netcraft survey of Web server software usage shows Windows servers with a strong lead over Linux and UNIX; about 55 percent of all secure Web servers run on Windows. Linux is less than one third of that figure. Measuring secure Web server server (that is, SSL or Secure Sockets Layer server) usage is considered more accurate than blindly measuring every "mom and pop" Web server out there. Anyone can (and often does) set up a Web server on a cable or Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) connection, but that doesn't make for relevant statistics. Netcraft measures secure Web servers to gain an idea of who's using what in the real world

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