IDC: Microsoft tightens vise on OS market

WASHINGTON -- The dominance of Microsoft Corp.'s Windows operating system, the centerpiece of the Department of Justice's antitrust case against the company, remains undisputed, according to research released Wednesday by Framingham, Mass.-based IDC.

Worldwide shipments of Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows NT Workstation, Windows 2000 Professional and Windows Millennium Edition comprised 92% of all client operating systems shipped last year, up from 89% the year before, said Al Gillen, research manager for IDC's operating environments program.

Windows 98 shipments were up 36% over the prior year, while Windows 95 shipments fell off dramatically, Gillen said. Overall, Microsoft's Windows 9x and Windows Millennium Edition operating system shipments were up by 8%.

Linux remains a bit player on the desktop, with less than 2% market share, although that's a 25% jump from 1999, IDC's research shows. Linux also continues to garner backing from IT industry leaders, including IBM, Hewlett-Packard Co. and Dell Computer Corp., all of which are shipping workstations and low-end servers with the Linux operating environment.

"Critics and nonbelievers can no longer dismiss the Linux market as a fad," Gillen said.

Windows also strengthened its position in the server operating system market. The IDC figures show Windows NT and all other versions of Windows for the server with a 41% share of shipments worldwide. Not only did Microsoft increase its server operating system shipments, it increased them at a rate significantly faster -- 20% -- than the overall market, whose growth was less than 13%.

With 24% growth, Linux was the only other category of operating system to increase its shipments. Linux had 27% of the server operating system market, Gillen said. Unix managed to hold its own in total shipments but didn't grow its market share.

"Microsoft products and Linux products are continuing to squeeze other operating environments out of the market," Gillen said.

As part of its defense in the antitrust trial, Microsoft has said Linux represents a threat to Windows. On Monday and Tuesday this week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia heard oral arguments on Microsoft's appeal of the case (see story).

IDC is a subsidiary of International Data Group Inc., the parent company of the IDG News Service and Computerworld.

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