Windows Servers Catching Up with Unix

Windows servers are beginning to make their move to take the lead in the worldwide server sales race, according to researcher IDC. But while Unix has been slipping lately, Linux is also making a strong move to come from behind, according to the researcher's latest Quarterly Server Tracker, which presents the firm's analysis of calendar fourth quarter 2005 factory revenues.

Although overall worldwide server sales were down two-tenths of a percent over the same quarter of 2004, the numbers are still sizeable -- $14.5 billion. And despite the sales figures slight decline, unit shipments actually continued to grow at a healthy 10.6 percent year on year, IDC said in a statement. Overall, for the full year 2005, worldwide server revenue grew 4.4 percent to $51.3 billion

Of that, Windows server sales grew by 4.7 percent compared to the same quarter last year, giving it 33.6 percent of overall server revenues. At the same time, Unix sever sales slipped 5.9 percent over last year's fourth quarter, though it still is technically the leader with 34.3 percent market share.

Comparing revenues for the full calendar year, IDC shows Windows servers pulling ahead with $17.7 billion versus $17.5 billion.

“For the first time, the Windows server segment modestly exceeded spending for Unix servers as customers deployed more fully configured Windows servers in support of scalable enterprise workloads and server virtualization projects,” IDC's statement said.

Meanwhile, Linux has been making increasing inroads into the global server marketplace, with 20.8 percent growth from 2004's fourth quarter. That makes the 14th consecutive quarter of double-digit growth for Linux servers.

Although it's advancing fast, however, Linux lags behind Windows with sales of $1.6 billion compared to Windows with $4.9 billion. Linux's star continues to rise.

The report also confirms the obvious -- that x86 architecture-based servers are making serious inroads as well. “The x86 server market continued to experience strong growth, with revenue of $6.8 billion worldwide for the fourth quarter of 2005 [while] factory revenue for x86 servers grew 6.7 percent,” IDC said.

Among OEMs, IBM still holds the lead, with a 38.4 percent market share in the fourth quarter, while HP pulls up second at 26.8 percent. Dell comes up a distant third with 9.6 percent, followed closely by Sun with 8.2 percent – the two swapped places from the year earlier period.

About the Author

Stuart J. Johnston has covered technology, especially Microsoft, since February 1988 for InfoWorld, Computerworld, Information Week, and PC World, as well as for Enterprise Developer, XML & Web Services, and .NET magazines.