Windows Finally Beats Unix, But Linux Is Coming on Strong

Opinion: IDC's server numbers show that Windows has finally overtaken Unix in the server market, but what's even more interesting is that Linux is continuing to accelerate at double-digit growth rates.

Well, it finally happened.

After years of "Unix is sick," "Unix is dying" and "Unix is dead" headlines, Windows, according to IDC, has finally overtaken Unix as the No. 1 pre-installed server operating system.

This may come as a surprise to some people, whove assumed that Windows has been No. 1 for quite some time. Nope. Windows has been No. 2 on servers for ages.

At long, long last, however, according to IDCs Worldwide Quarterly Server Tracker, "for the first time the Windows server segment modestly exceeded spending for Unix servers as customers deployed more fully configured Windows servers in support of scalable enterprise workloads and server virtualization projects."

They shouldnt break out the champagne bottles in Redmond quite yet, though.

That same report also said: "Linux servers generated $1.6 billion in quarterly revenue, the fourteenth consecutive quarter of double-digit growth, with year-over-year revenue growth of 20.8 percent. For the full year, Linux server revenues were $5.7 billion, placing it in third place for the first time from an operating system perspective as customers continued to expand the role of Linux servers into an increasingly wider array of commercial and technical workloads."

Heh, heh.

Yes, Windows is still far ahead at this point in terms of sales dollars. But, Ill take Linuxs year-to-year of 20.8 percent over Windows 4.7 percent year-over-year any day if Im an investor.

Besides, since Linux is far cheaper to deploy than Windows, I strongly suspect that Linuxs growth in terms of number of installations, instead of dollars, beats Windows soundly.

/zimages/3/28571.gifTwo major Linux advocates have published a report aimed at rebutting Microsofts "Get the Facts" research campaign claiming that Linux has a higher total cost of ownership than Windows. Click here to read more.

If you look closer at the numbers, youll also see that the top dogs in terms of hardware factory revenue are IBM and HP. What do they have in common? Both of them are distancing themselves from their proprietary versions of Unix, AIX and HP-UX respectively, in favor of Linux on the server.

Which hardware company fell the hardest? Its a tie between Fujitsu and Sun. Fujitsu runs a mix of its own systems, such as BS2000/OSD-BC, Solaris and Windows. Sun, although it flirts with Linux, still gets most of its declining dollars from Solaris.

Now, none of these companies is going to be going out of business anytime soon. But, it doesnt take a Wall Street financial analyst to see that Linux, and the companies that support it, are on a remarkably fast growth rate.

Enjoy your stay at the top, Microsoft. You wont be there for long. Senior Editor Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols has been using and writing about operating systems since the late 80s and thinks he may just have learned something about them along the way. He can be reached at

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