Microsoft neck and neck with Amazon in Windows hosting, says Netcraft

Microsoft neck and neck with Amazon in Windows hosting, says Netcraft

Summary: In the battle of the cloud giants, Microsoft's Azure is matching Amazon, at least on its own turf: Windows hosting.


Microsoft's Azure is narrowly ahead of Amazon as the biggest host as measured by the number of web-facing Windows computers, according to Netcraft, which runs regular site surveys. As the graph below shows, the companies have been neck-and-neck over the past year. "Microsoft now has 23,400 web-facing Windows computers against Amazon's 22,600," says Netcraft, adding that each has "just over 1% of the market".

So, it's not exactly world domination, and we don't know how many of these Azure machines are running Microsoft services such as Office 365, Xbox Live, Skype, and OneDrive, rather than jobs for customers. These include, says Netcraft, the Sochi 2014 Olympic Games, Aston Martin, BenQ, and McDonald's Happy Studio.

Netcraft speculates that the "Windows Azure Web Sites service -- available to the general public since June 2013 -- may be the driving force behind Azure's growth. This Platform as a Service allows existing applications written in ASP, ASP.NET, PHP, Node.js, or Python to be deployed on an automatically scaling platform without managing individual computers. Microsoft also provides pre-configured software packages, such as WordPress, which can be used immediately with the Web Site service."

Amazon presumably has a huge lead when it comes to Linux hosting, because that represents only 10% of Azure's business, on this measure. More than half of the Azure computers run Windows Server 2008, while about a third run Windows Server 2012. Ubuntu is the most popular version of Linux on Azure, followed by CentOS.

Microsoft has room for expansion because "52% of Azure's web-facing computers are in the United States, 36% are in Europe, and only 12% are in Asia Pacific." Indeed, it should have an advantage in parts of Europe and Asia because Microsoft's own businesses operate in many more countries that Amazon. When Microsoft slashed its cloud storage prices a month ago, it said in an Azure blog post: "We’re also making the new prices effective worldwide which means that Azure storage will be less expensive than AWS in many regions."

Amazon's cloud strategy is to be the low-cost cloud supplier while Microsoft's is to track if not match Amazon's prices while offering better performance. This should be good for customers, if not necessarily the Windows hosting providers who are Microsoft's partners.

graph showing Microsoft and Amazon hosting Windows computers
Microsoft and Amazon have been neck-and-neck at Windows hosting over the past year. Source: Netcraft


Topics: Cloud, Windows Server

Jack Schofield

About Jack Schofield

Jack Schofield spent the 1970s editing photography magazines before becoming editor of an early UK computer magazine, Practical Computing. In 1983, he started writing a weekly computer column for the Guardian, and joined the staff to launch the newspaper's weekly computer supplement in 1985. This section launched the Guardian’s first website and, in 2001, its first real blog. When the printed section was dropped after 25 years and a couple of reincarnations, he felt it was a time for a change....

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  • Azure will crush Amazon

    Considering Microsoft's iron grip on business software, its a simple guess that Azure will see explosive growth in coming years.
    • Subsidized, of course ..

      ... if Microsoft continue to match Amazon, they'll not make a lot of profit, will they?
      • Windows Azure uses Drawbridge...

        So where Amazon can host 25 VMs in an 8-Core, 16GB hardware setup, Microsoft can host 200+ VMs with the same setup-- thanks to Drawbridge! Same hardware cost-- more VMs.
        • sorry...

          200 VMs will run like a dog. swapping/paging thrashing forever. And quite possibly the entire system is vulnerable to a single penetration.
      • I read Amazon's the Subsidized one, Heenan73

        so they're already not making much, if any profit, are they?
        • Have you got a reference for that?

          I didn't find one.
  • So, Microsoft thinks the cloud is here to stay ...

    ... so they need to reprogram the fanbois, who all loathe the very idea of Chromebook, on principle.

    Which is fine (Let's face it, who cares?), but it does mean the rest of us get a really good laugh when Microsoft bring out their own version of Chromebook, and the fanbois have to love it overnight.

    Let's face it, the Microsoft fanboi reaction to the Windows / Android phone has been the best tech laugh this year so far ...
    • So where does Google rank in the graph above?

      You bring a cheap device into your comment for some reason that runs a browser as an OS which is fine for a great number of users, but where does Google fit into the above hosting graph?
      • Bahahaha...

        Google is banned in a hundred mile radius of any enterprise.
      • thekman58: "So where does Google rank in the graph above?"

        Google's a latecomer to IaaS and as of today, Google's Compute Engine (based on KVM) does only Linux images. More here:
        Rabid Howler Monkey
        • Thanks for the info Rabid

    • Seems you don't know much about the cloud

      Chromebook is a backward technology. Meanwhile, Dynamics CRM is a sample of a cloud technology by Microsoft takes advantage and maximizes cloud services (Note this was existing even before Amazon created AWS). It can go both online and offline -- unlike chromebook Apps.

      On the games side Asphalt 8 : Airborne uses the Azure Cloud -- Could you run Asphalt 8 : Airborn on a Chromebook?

      There are many other technologies which I will not enumerate that use the cloud both offline and offline -- a concept Microsoft is pushing -- unlike the Chromebook that is a pure online experience!

      So No Microsoft won't copy an outdated Chromebook strategy!
      • Wow are you uninformed

        Yeah - ChromeBooks and Chrome apps don't work offline, and don't do any processing on the ChromeBook itself. Gotcha.
      • RE: Seems you don't know much about the cloud

        Thin clients is not an outdated technology. They have their roots in multi-user systems, traditionally mainframes accessed by some sort of terminal. As computer graphics matured, these terminals transitioned to full graphical user interfaces. The benefits of thin clients is cheap hardware, single point of failure and client simplicity. Web thin clients are new. Firefox OS and Chrome OS are new. They depend on the cloud and are used as portals to web based applications. Chrome OS doesn't have an operating system. It runs a web browse directly on top of the kernel. This makes them boot up in seconds and they are extremely simple to use. They are not for everybody but if Microsoft wants a piece of that market then they will have to develop a thin client themselves.
        Tim Jordan
        • Single Point Of Failure...

          What do you mean by that?
    • Translation -

      "Though my anxiety at the realization that MS is making all the right moves of late, obviously I have no counter to it, so I'll just post a childish accusations in the hopes people actually believe I'm better then those I insult"

      Let's face it, the ABM fanboi reaction to anything MS related has been undeniably the best laugh this year so far, as the faster you spin it, Heenan73, the greater the conformation is.

      And that's worth getting popcorn for. :)
    • "Best tech laugh this year"? Yes, MS will be laughing all the way to the

      bank, as they begin to take over a lot of business away from Android and Google.

      But, selling Android devices is just part of the strategy, because getting users used to Nokia devices blended with Android, will allow MS to offer many other services which will get them additional revenue beyond just the sales price of the devices. It's not just the devices and OS that is being sold; it's the services that can be sold after the devices are sold.

      Besides, any device sold, whether a WP/Android blend, or just a WP device, will mean one less device in the Android ecosystem, and thus, Android market share drops. It's a long term strategy, and will cost MS major money, but, they seem to be committed to the mobile market for the long run.
    • MS has fanboys?

      Where are they?
      x I'm tc
      • We're the people who actually use some of their products

        because, you know, they get the job done for us.

        Didn't you know, you're supposed to cripple your business so that you can avoid MS products.
        • Didn't you know...

          you're supposed to cripple your business so that you can prop up Microsofts stock?