Microsoft Remains King of the OS World

Despite a lengthy battle with the U.S. Justice Department, Microsoft maintains its strong lead in the client operating environment market and a leading position in the server operating environment market, according to International Data Corp. (IDC).

During 2000, Windows actually strengthened its hold on both the desktop and server. According to IDC, Windows accounted for 41 percent of server operating environment (SOE) shipments and an overwhelming 92 percent of shipments for the client operating environment (COE).

“The strong are getting stronger,” said Dan Kusnetzky, vice president of IDC’s operating environments research. “In what could have easily been a tough year for Microsoft because of its transition to Windows 2000, the company managed to increase its position in both the client and the server operating environments market.”

Not only did Microsoft increase its SOE shipments, it increased them at a rate significantly faster than the overall market. Microsoft’s SOE shipments jumped 20 percent in 2000, while the overall market’s growth was less than 13 percent. With 24 percent growth, Linux was the only other category of operating environment to increase its shipments faster than Microsoft — or to increase its shipments at all. Sun was the only bright spot in the UNIX market.

Only Windows and Linux increased their desktop shipments. Windows 98/98 SE shipments were 36 percent more than the prior year, while Windows 95 shipments fell off dramatically. Linux remains a bit player with less than 2 percent market share, although growth was up by 25 percent. Microsoft’s Windows 9x and Me operating environment shipments were only up by 8 percent, yet the company managed to increase its market share by almost 3 percentage points.

“The general trend for client operating environments continues to be consolidation around 32-bit operating systems and applications,” Kusnetzky said. “Unfortunately for competitors of Microsoft, this consolidation also means a general movement to Windows platforms.”

Linux, however, is starting to receive backing from some big guns in the IT industry, helping to drive its growth. IBM, Hewlett-Packard and Dell are all shipping workstations and low-end servers with the Linux operating environment.

“Critics and nonbelievers can no longer dismiss the Linux market as a fad,” said Al Gillen, research manager for IDC’s operating environments program. “If leading hardware vendors are willing to risk their credibility by endorsing and placing Linux systems in the market, it’s easy for customers to conclude there must be something real about Linux.”

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