[fdn-ann] OS Market shares

Thought this would be of interest.  From the451.com and I'm sure you've seen some other coverage of this report.

Operating systems: who's up and who's down?
John Abbott
GMT Aug 09, 2000, 09:48 PM | ET Aug 09, 2000, 04:48 PM | PT Aug 09, 2000, 01:48 PM

San Francisco - Who's winning the operating system wars? Well, Microsoft, of course, but IDC's recently released figures for both client- and server-side operating system revenue and shipments nevertheless show some interesting trends. Taking both client and server together and looking at revenue, Linux is barely visible with just $67m, while Windows soars towards the $8bn mark. Those so-called 'legacy' mainframes still topped $4bn in revenue last year, while Unix was third, with well over $3bn. 'Others' account for just about the rest of the healthy total of $17.4bn in revenue reached for the year, with Apple's MacOS only barely justifying its separation from the 'others.'

Linux would certainly be languishing with those others if revenue were the whole story. But separate out client from server, and measure by installed base rather than revenue, and three operating systems dominate. Windows, of course, takes a giant 87.7% share of the new licenses. But Linux and MacOS both have over 10 million users, giving MacOS a 5% share of the pie and Linux 4.2%. 'Others' made 3.8%. Some 98.8 million client OS licenses shipped last year, a figure IDC anticipates will have risen to just under 140 million by the year 2004. It says that both the Microsoft and Linux shares are likely to rise several points over that time, leaving Apple's share static unless of course MacOS X and its striking Aqua user interface catch on in a big way, a possibility IDC doesn't completely rule out.

MacOS X won't run on older Macs and represents a huge technical break with the current versions of MacOS. Existing Macintosh applications will need to be ported over in order to run natively and take full advantage of the new system. None of that bodes well for its future market share. But MacOS X is effectively Unix under the covers, and could in theory be ported over to Intel, giving it a wider possible reach. Apple, however, professes to have little interest in doing this. And some of us still remember AUX, Apple's previous attempt at Unix, which sank without trace despite its neat user interface technology.

If we look at the IDC figures from the server side of things, Microsoft loses its pole position, at least in terms of revenue, behind mainframes and Unix. In shipments, Microsoft leads with a 36% share of 1999 licenses, with Linux in second place with 24%, Novell NetWare third with 19% and Unix fourth with 15%. Total licenses shipped reached 5.7 million. This is where the impact of Linux becomes more evident. New license shipments rose to 24.4% from 15.8% last year, overtaking NetWare. And compound annual growth rates will top 28%, taking license numbers from 1.3 million in 1999 up to 4.7 million in the year 2004 still behind Microsoft, however, and still likely to garner a miniscule $85m in revenue in 2004.

Other than Linux and Microsoft, everything else on the server side is losing share, despite IDC's forecast of robust market growth for licenses of 16.7% between 1999 and 2004. Revenue growth won't be so robust, however, and is forecast to reach just 1% compound annual growth rate during that time.

Will Intel's introduction of the IA64 make an impact on the figures by the year 2004? Intel's delays have given the OS vendors time to catch up, so Microsoft, Linux (via the Trillian Project) and Unix (Monterey and other flavors) operating systems should all be available by the time it ships. But according to IDC commentator Geoffrey Dutton, the situation is "reminiscent of Digital's Alpha chip rollout nearly a decade ago." Then, he says, DEC failed to gain enough support from independent software vendors. This time, the supporting hardware is in place, and a combination of Internet transactions and multimedia content is ready to soak up all available systems resources. But any focus on the high end is still likely to be advantageous to Linux and Unix over Microsoft.

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