Worldwide operating system (OS) revenue grew to US$30.3 billion last year, clocking an increase of 7.8 percent from 2009, according to new figures from Gartner.
Pointing to the recovery of the global economy as a significant factor in the market's healthy showing, the research firm added that client platforms grew faster than the server segment, growing 9.3 percent last year compared to 5.7 percent for server OSes.
Matthew Cheung, Gartner's principal research analyst, said in the report: "The long-pending demand for PC refreshment was unleashed as the economy stepped out from the economic turndown, which drove growth of client OSes."
Within this OS segment, Apple's Mac OS saw the fastest growth as its laptops and desktops saw strong sales, although from a much smaller base. Microsoft's Windows client remained the largest client OS segment, registering a high single-digit growth which was particularly driven by the adoption of Windows 7 and the termination of Windows XP.
In fact, Microsoft's Windows client revenue saw higher growth at 9.2 percent, compared to its Windows server business which grew 7.5 percent.
In the server OS segment, Linux proved the fastest-growing sub-segment as end-users embraced more open standards systems,
Linux's server was the fastest-growing sub-segment in 2010 because end users embraced more open-standard systems, explained Alan Dayley, managing vice president at Gartner. Within the Unix OS market, he noted that IBM AIX clocked high single-digit growth but Unix experienced "modest or negative growth".
"The end-of-life threat for Unix OSes such as Tru64 and NetWare pushed the 'other proprietary Unix' sub-segment down 39.6 percent in 2010, as some vendors retired their proprietary Unix and moved users to more open systems," Dayley said.
According to Gartner, Red Hat continued to dominate the commercial Linux server market where the vendor's Red Hat Enterprise Linux server license climbed 18.6 percent to US$592 million last year. The platform accounted for 58.2 percent of the overall Linux server market.
Worldwide, the overall OS market was dominated by Microsoft which accounted for 78.6 percent of overall revenue, an 8.8 percent increase from 2009, Gartner revealed. It added that the software giant maintained its pole position with revenue totaling US$23.8 billion last year, compared to US$21.9 billion in 2009.
IBM and Hewlett-Packard ranked in second and third, respectively. Big Blue grew its revenue by 5.6 percent to US$2.2 billion last year with a 7.5 percent market share, a slight dip from 7.7 percent in 2009. HP clocked a 1.4 percent revenue growth to US$1.1 billion last year with a 3.7 percent market share, down from 3.9 percent in 2009.
Oracle and Red Hat rounded up the worldwide Top 5 OS vendor at 4th and 5th positions, respectively, with a market share of 2.6 percent and 2 percent.
Apple ranked 6th with a market share of 1.7 percent.