Windows widens lead over Linux in the server market

Linux has no chance of catching Windows on the desktop, but many have held out hope it may overtake Windows when it comes to servers. But the latest figures from IDC show that's going to be tough to do, considering that Windows has just widened its already sizable lead over Linux on servers.

The latest IDC numbers show that in the first quarter of 2010 in terms of units sold, Windows had a 75.3% market share, (1,379,487 units) compared to 20.8% for Linux (380,429 units) and 3.6% (65,451 units) for Unix.

That's a pretty substantial lead --- and it's a bigger one than Windows had in the fourth quarter of 2009, when Windows had a 73.9% market share, compared to 21.2% for Linux, and 4.4% for Unix.

When it comes to revenue, as you would expect, Windows Server-based systems have an even bigger lead. In the fourth quarter, Windows servers accounted for 48.9% of the market ($5.1 billion), compared to 16.2% ($1.7 billion) for Linux, and 22.2% ($2.3 billion) for Unix.

In fact, that's the biggest market share yet for Windows servers. Just because Windows has a big lead over Linux, though, doesn't mean the news is bad for Linux. Quite the contrary. Linux is growing as well. IDC concludes about Windows and Linux:

* Microsoft Windows server demand was positively impacted by the accelerating x86 server market, as hardware revenue increased 33.6% and unit shipments increased 28.3% year over year. Quarterly revenue of $5.1 billion for Windows servers represented 48.9% of overall quarterly factory revenue. This is the highest percentage of server hardware revenue that Windows servers have ever represented.

* Linux server demand also improved sharply in 1Q10, with revenue growing 20.4% to $1.7 billion when compared with the first quarter of 2009. Linux servers now represent 16.2% of all server revenue, up 2.1 points over 1Q09.

The truth is, both Windows and Linux will continue to thrive in the server market, and Windows will continue to dominate. Linux fans may like to think they'll dethrone Windows, but this latest report is one more piece of evidence that's not likely to happen.

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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