Behind the IDC data: Windows still No. 1 in server operating systems

Behind the IDC data: Windows still No. 1 in server operating systems

Summary: According to IDC's new server data, Windows is still the dominant player. While the fourth quarter was more robust than the third, in terms of total revenues and units, Windows' share of the total stayed constant unit-wise, yet declined, dollar-wise.

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International Data Corp. released its fourth-quarter global server data on February 25, listing the top providers of server hardware. But what about on the software front?

According to IDC's data, Windows is still the dominant player. The fourth quarter 2009 was more robust than the third, in terms of total revenues and units. Windows' share of the total stayed constant unit-wise, yet declined, dollar-wise, when compared to the previous calendar quarter.

That said, Windows is still far and away the No. 1 server operating system, in terms of units, and the definite leader in terms of dollars.

Here's IDC's OS share data break out.

Units (Q3 2009/Q4 2009)

Windows    1,248,200 (73.9%)     1,434,225 (73.9%) Unix                72,001 ( 4.3%)           84,851 ( 4.4%) Linux            357,491 (21.2%)         412,041 (21.2%)

Total          1,688,859                   1,941,966

U.S. Dollars (in millions) (Q3 2009/Q4 2009)

Windows   $4,487   (43.0%)           $5,393 (41.6%) Unix          $2,803   (26.9%)          $3,877  (29.9%) Linux         $1,537   (14.7%)          $1,905 (14.7%)

Total         $10,423                        $12,952

(Note: Sorry: I included the wrong dollar totals originally. These are now fixed.)

Windows Server and SQL Server are the biggest bottom-line contributors to Microsoft's Server and Tools business.  It will still be another few years before Microsoft's investments in cloud computing begin kicking in and contributing dollars to Redmond's coffers, officials have conceded.

Topics: Linux, Open Source, Operating Systems, Software, Windows

About

Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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117 comments
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  • If you are counting ...

    ... bare metal installs, maybe, but instances, I doubt it.

    ^o^
    <br>
    n0neXn0ne
    • Yea...

      I wonder if they made that distinction in the actual report? MJ?
      bmonster
  • numbers don't look right..

    I have my suspicions that the share of market by installations for windows given by IDC is not the real picture. Most of the places I have worked have Linux servers (sometimes hundreds) that are not 'registered' or paid-for subscriptions (e.g., like RHEL), and run Debian, CentOS, fedora etc. Do IDC have a good way of counting these? Sure, there are probably unregistered windows servers out there, but they are very likely to a small minority.

    Looking at web servers, for instance, most run Apache, and my guess is most of those run Linux (some would run one of the BSDs or Solaris of course) but majority would probably be Linux. And I don't think the sysadmin job market reflects the market share numbers quoted.

    So I would be cautious to accept these figures at face value...
    c_mc
    • The figures only show OS sales, which, is quite meaningless when you want

      to know what people are actually using, given that
      the big boys all install their own image of Linux or
      BSD, and that is not included in these figures.
      DonnieBoy
      • Right. IDC numbers are dead on when they speculate

        Linux (Android) to be number 2 phone OS in 2 years, but totaly bogus when they show Windows Server as the number 1 Server sold over Linux.

        Sorry, get used to Windows being the dominent and most prefered server OS.

        [i]given that the big boys all install their own image of Linux or BSD, and that is not included in these figures[/i]

        And of course you have the article that says that?

        I didn't think sp.
        John Zern
        • Cell phone sales are quite different, since each and every one ships with

          an OS, and it is very easy to track.

          Servers is quite different as large companies like
          Google even construct their own out of basic
          components.

          And, this article is clearly on SERVER OS REVENUE,
          not total number of servers deployed.
          DonnieBoy
          • You're grasping at straws.

            face it, for all your claims and predictions, it's been shown more then once that Windows is the number 1 selling OS for servers.

            So you can go on making excuses that numbers aren't what they seem, but it won't change the facts to make it so.
            John Zern
          • You are grasping at straws. OS sales is NOT equal to OS usage.

            Tell me this, how many of the servers that Google
            built from basic components are included in the IDC
            data?
            DonnieBoy
          • How many of GE's are?

            Google is a small, small, small, percentage of overall usage. Youy seem to think they use half the world's servers.

            They don't. Overall usage still goes to Windows.

            You don't like it, big deal: why are getting so up in arms over the fact that Windows is still the most used OS in the world?

            Now, lets use the "changing OS" scenerio that you use alot: How do you know that those "No OS" systems aren't being formatted and installed with Windows Server? the BIG BOYS that use Windows have site licenses that cost less per copy then ordering it with a retail copy of Windows Server, right?

            Look, I deal with alot of companies/schools/facilities every day, and they're pretty much all Windows Server based.

            Add to that sales figures from IDC and others and it paints a pretty clear picture that Windows Server [b]is[/b] the most used server OS in the world.
            John Zern
          • YOU are grasping at straws. OS sales is NOT equal to OS usage.

            Tell me this, how many of the servers that Google
            built from basic components are included in the IDC
            data?
            DonnieBoy
      • How do you know "the big boys all install their own image of Linux"

        I suspect many of the big boys like our company use Red Hat or Suse. Ours does. They want support.

        It's the small boys that do they're own stuff.
        DevGuy_z
        • No, it is well documented that Google creates their own custom images.

          But, others just use Cent OS, Ubuntu server,
          straight Debian, etc. It pays off for even small
          companies to install a standard, but completely
          free, distribution, that does not show up in this
          data. It ain't rocket science.
          DonnieBoy
          • We aren't talking about Google.

            And you're wrong on the other. Big corporations that have large IT departments don't do their own images they install Red Hat Suse, Solaris and others.
            DevGuy_z
      • Only a very small fraction of Windows Server

        are sold OEM. The vast majority are open license. I can't remember the last time I deployed a server with an OEM license, they all ship from the factory with no OS and we load it with Server 2008 R2 w/ a 2003 R2 32bit guest OS that's included with the 2008 license in case the client needs legacy support.

        The only spot Linux can claim to beat Windows on are web servers, but overall servers there is no doubt Windows is in the lead. It's very likely Novell and Unix still have a larger presence than Linux.
        LiquidLearner
    • my thought

      I worked with quite a number of companies, large or small, including ISPs. I find only ISPs using Linux/Unix. I don't see one single Linux/Unix in any company other than ISPs. If you take out ISPs, Linux/Unix market share is probably close to 0.
      jk_10
      • Slight disagreement

        My company is manufacturing. We have 81 Windows servers and 4 Unix (2 prod, 2 Dev). All Unix servers are for Oracle stuff.

        I would also like to point out that Linux is the OS of choice for web hosting. Not sure if you consider that a ISP but thought I would point it out just in case.
        http://news.netcraft.com/archives/2010/02/02/most_reliable_hosting_company_sites_in_january_2010.html
        Cobra7fac
        • that was my point

          I can safely say over 90% of web servers are running in ISPs. at the start, almost all ISPs were using Unix/Linux. Then you start to see web hosting options like Windows Host and Linux Host, that's because ISPs start using Windows. Just the same way 10 years ago, people start using SQL Server. Simply put, Linux/Unix only place in market is in ISPs(cable companies are ISPs, some say about Yahoo's servers..., that number is too small, it is safe to ignore). A few years ago, Windows share in ISPs is 0. Now I don't have a number, but easy to guess.

          People always say Linux share grew, but it only took from Unix. I think enough said.
          jk_10
    • Sales figures not installed base...

      In a way the title is misleading but still true. Windows leads in server SALES and revenue. So this is interesting news if you're looking at the performance of Red Hat, Canonical, Novell and others on their server sales. If you're looking from the standpoint of a developer or admin looking to see where the actual installed base is going you have to look at other measures.
      storm14k
    • They maybe accurate...

      since it takes more windows servers to do the same tasks as other Os's do with fewer servers.
      mrlinux
      • Good point

        nt
        Axsimulate