Microsoft leads in server operating systems

Last year, Microsoft made big strides in server operating systems, according to figures recently released by IDC.

Microsoft shipped 49% of all server operating systems in 2001, up from 42% in 2000. Microsoft saw the only real gains in share; rival operating systems either remained the same or fell. Linux was relatively constant at 25%, while shares of Unix and NetWare fell from 15% to 12% over the year.

Although sales of Linux are expected to grow to $280 million in 2006 from $80 million in 2001, revenue from Linux operating system licenses fell 5% from 2000 to 2001.

IDC attributes Microsoft's gain to upgrades from Windows NT to Windows 2000. Microsoft saw increases in server and client operating systems.

The overall operating system market increased just under 1% for 2001.

Al Gillen, an analyst with IDC, says the drop in Unix server operating system shipments contributed to Microsoft's increases.

Linux, the up-and-coming operating system, shows strength in Web serving and midsize application hosting, while NetWare, which is becoming more irrelevant as an operating system platform as Novell extends its services cross-platform, took 11% of operating system shipments. All Unix shipments accounted for an 11% market share.

Other operating systems, such as Apple's Mac OS X, accounted for 2% of server operating system shipments.

Novell's new CTO, Alan Nugent, claims that the hubbub is not about the operating system anymore - it's about the services layered on top of the operating system. Novell, once predominant in the operating system market, has now expanded into Web services development, cross-platform network services and consulting and technical services.

Nugent says operating systems are becoming commodities as vendors extend their platforms to the Web.

Earlier this year, IDC's Gillen pointed to Sun's release of Solaris 8 for Intel as an example of commoditization, attributing it to the fact that there are so many similar products.

In 1999, Gartner predicted the commoditization of operating systems in a Research Note that agrees with Novell's Nugent: "Massive software development communities linked together by the World Wide Web as a public-domain resource and collection pool will speed the commoditization of operating-system functionality and reductions in pricing, especially when required in standards-based interoperability and administration in the next 24 months."

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