According to the market researcher's statistics, HP took 17.2 per cent by units of the fast-swelling segment by selling over 222,000 products. The numbers cover x86-based NT models only; HP also sold well over 100,000 Unix workstations.
Unsurprisingly, HP was at pains to say the numbers didn't lie.
"You get sensational swings but IDC is saying we're the biggest for all 1997," said Tim Jones, UK product manager for HP's Kayak workstation.
"People are starting to see that workstations are not just for specialists. At the same time you can't just stick in a bigger graphics cards and mix and match PC components."
Jones said that the market had been grown by Intel's faster Pentium II processors and associated developments such as the 440LX chipset, the AGP graphics chipset, and increasing acceptance of Windows NT.
"The power of the Intel chips made it the year of the workstation. That trend will grow with faster chips, the 440BX chipset and NT 5.0."
IDC lauded HP's achievement.
"HP successfully combined its rich UNIX system technology expertise with its PC business, forging a leadership position in NT-based personal workstations," said Tom Copeland, director of workstation research, IDC.
"HP has demonstrated the ability to meet customer needs through high-quality PC workstations and leading technical support. HP fully leveraged these capabilities in 1997, particularly during its very successful fourth quarter."
HP's Jones also took time out to aim a couple of pot shots at rivals.
"They're moving quite fast but not innovating like we are. They haven't got the high-end but they're obviously trying to get it through Digital and Tandem [acquisitions]. We were able to get advantages by using top-end graphics technology inherited from our fastest machines and by joint-developments such as Fast RAID with Adaptec."
"A lot of companies are just calling their fastest systems workstations. We distinguish between our Vectra PCs and our Kayak workstations."
Looking ahead, Jones said he expects Kayak workstations based on 450MHz Pentium II processors in June and 2-CPU versions being talked up - though not released - by the end of 1998.
In 1999, HP expects to debut workstations based on the Intel-HP developed processor codenamed Merced.