Windows Remains the OS of Choice for Application Service Provider (ASP) Access

Large, midsized, and small companies use Windows desktop environments to access the Internet, and figures indicate that Windows will continue to dominate as firms increasingly use Application Service Providers (ASPs).

Although the move to transform productivity and desktop software applications into online, pay-per-use, or rental services remains an intriguing development in corporate IT, Windows still leads as the desktop OS of choice to access Application Service Provider (ASP) services. According to an exclusive analysis of data provided by, more than 90 percent of companies using ASPs do so via a Windows environment. Moreover, the next 2 to 3 years promise growth in Windows' dominance of the ASP desktop.

Graph 1 shows the distribution of large companies' desktop OSs used to access ASPs. Graph 2 shows the same data for midsized companies, and Graph 3 indicates the OS breakdown in small companies. Note that firms often reported more than one platform used to access ASPs, so graph figures exceed 100 percent.

As the graphs indicate, nearly 95 percent of large companies use Windows to access ASPs. In small companies, the number dips to 88 percent. This data reveals several interesting patterns. First, although the browser/Java platform represents a common vehicle used to access ASPs, that platform complements but doesn't replace Windows access. Second, large and midsized corporations support more platforms for accessing ASPs. And the larger the company, the more alternative platforms, as Graph 4 indicates.

Large companies use browser/Java access as the primary alternative to Windows. Small organizations, however, are more likely to use either the Macintosh OS or Linux as alternatives. The most dramatic difference is in the use of UNIX. Although more than half of large companies report using UNIX to access ASPs, fewer than one-third of midsized companies and fewer than a quarter of small companies use the UNIX system.

Windows access clearly exceeds browser/Java access to ASPs, and for several reasons its dominance could grow next year. First, as Microsoft moves to a services model for Office and other products, expect it to reinforce using Windows for ASP access. And although large companies have embraced the ASP model, midsized and small firms have been slower to follow. Among small companies, most of which now employ the Windows platform for ASP access, Windows will probably remain the standard platform. Graph 5 shows current use of ASP services and company plans to adopt it.

Some analysts believe that ASP services must regroup and retrench during 2001. For example, Jim Gantz, chief research officer for IDC, predicts that a market shakeout will force ASP services to expand beyond pure application rental offerings.

He might be right, but the ASP model continues to be a compelling approach for companies regardless of size. As Graph 5 indicates, nearly everybody plans to use an ASP at some point. Analysts once predicted a radical transformation of the desktop environment, but the post-ASP desktop might turn out to be—surprise!—a Windows-dominated environment.

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