February 21, 2006 9:00 PM PST

Windows bumps Unix as top server OS

Windows narrowly bumped Unix in 2005 to claim the top spot in server sales for the first time, according to a new report from IDC.

Computer makers sold $17.7 billion worth of Windows servers worldwide in 2005 compared with $17.5 billion in Unix servers, IDC analyst Matthew Eastwood said of the firm's latest Server Tracker market share report. "It's the first time Unix was not top overall since before the Tracker started in 1996."

And in another first, fast-growing Linux took third place, bumping machines with IBM's mainframe operating system, z/OS. Linux server sales grew from $4.3 billion in 2004 to $5.3 billion in 2005, while mainframes dropped from $5.7 billion to $4.8 billion over the same period, Eastwood said.

Servers are powerful networked machines for tasks such as handling e-mail, financial transactions, airline reservations and file storage. According to IDC, the overall server market grew 4.4 percent to $51.3 billion from 2004 to 2005. Another market watcher, Gartner, released data Tuesday that largely agreed, with 4.5 percent growth to $49.5 billion.

Conventional wisdom in the 1990s forecast that Microsoft's Windows would inexorably move to market leadership, but its arrival was slowed by several factors. For one thing, Windows took much longer to mature than many expected. For another, Unix--in particular Sun Microsystems' Solaris--succeeded wildly in the dot-com spending spree. And out of the blue came Linux, an operating system modeled after Unix but popular on the same hardware as used by Windows--servers built with x86 processors such as Intel's Xeon and, increasingly, Advanced Micro Devices' Opteron.

The Unix market, though, is still huge, and the three major players are fighting for every scrap. In another first, IBM secured the top spot in 2005, with 31.8 percent of the market to Hewlett-Packard's 29.8 percent and Sun's 26.2 percent.

"They set that out as a goal, and it does appear they achieved it," Eastwood said.

Sun is trying to restore Unix fortunes as well by making Solaris an open-source project and bringing it to x86 servers. Although Sun's Unix revenue continued to decline, dropping 10 percent to $4.6 billion in 2005 according to Gartner, Sun dominated unit shipments with 59 percent of the 272,000 shipped.

Overall market growth
IBM led the overall market in 2005 in terms of revenue, with $16.9 billion in sales and 32.9 percent share, IDC said. But IBM's growth was slower than the overall market, and the company lost 0.3 percentage points of share.

Two major server companies that grew faster than the overall market: No. 2 HP, with 8.9 percent growth to $14.2 billion, and Dell, with 13.3 percent growth to $5.3 billion.

No. 4 Sun, which has been losing share of server revenue for years, continued its declines, with revenue shrinking 4.9 percent to $4.9 billion. But its new "Galaxy" line of x86 servers and UltraSparc T1 "Niagara"-based servers could help the company in 2006, Eastwood said.

"I think Sun's pretty well-positioned this year for some growth," Eastwood said. In the fourth quarter of 2005, Sun's x86 server revenue grew almost 69 percent to about $100 million, though it's still in sixth place.

Lower-end servers
As in years past, much of the growth took place in lower-end servers costing $25,000 or less--a category that accounted for 6.8 million of the 7 million units shipped, Eastwood said. As these systems assume important duties and simultaneously juggle multiple tasks through virtualization technology, they more often are sold with large amounts of memory and internal storage, Eastwood said.

"The systems and configurations going out are much richer," he said, a fact that's slowing the decline in average selling prices that has been typical in the computing industry.

AMD's Opteron processor made significant strides in the lower-end market. Servers using AMD's chips accounted for 6 percent of the x86 server market in the fourth quarter of 2004, with the rest being Intel chips, but a year later increased to 14.3 percent.

"There's real strong movement there," Eastwood said.

The lower-end server market is strategic because it's growing faster than the overall market. For example, in the fourth quarter, x86 server sales grew 6.7 percent to $6.8 billion while the overall server market shrank 0.2 percent to $14.5 billion.

Another growth category is blade servers, thin models that slide side-by-side into a chassis like books into a bookshelf. The chassis interconnects the blades and supplies communal resources such as power and networking hardware.

Blade server revenue grew 84 percent from $1.15 billion in 2004 to $2.11 billion in 2005. Meanwhile, blades themselves got more powerful and their average price rose from $3,750 to $4,200 during the same period, he added.

IBM continues to lead the blade market with 40.9 percent of sales. HP is in second place with 34.5 percent, while Dell trails in third at 10.1 percent.

See more CNET content tagged:
Unix, IBM z/OS, x86 server, Sun Microsystems Inc., server OS


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# of Windows licenses sold is not comparable with Bundled Unixes
The leading Unix-like OS, Linux, is a free download, so is FreeBSD, and NetBSD. Any systems administrator worth his salt would just buy the unbundled hardware and download and install the Unix of his choice.

Comparing the number of Windows Server bundled PCs with the number of Unix bundled PCs just doesn't make sense because most PCs destined for use as servers are sold without any software or operating system installed, so don't register in the survey as "Unix PCs," even though that's what they are.

Furthermore, one would need to include all the Linux running server appliances, from LAN enclosures, LAN raids, etc., etc., to see that Windows as a server OS has only a miniscule share of the server market.
Posted by Maccess (610 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I can't really agree....
Any Sys Admin that downloads and installs a non-supported version of an OS on a production server needs to be fired. Corporations want a phone number to call if something goes wrong that's beyond the Admin's abilities (this does happen). Any admin that thinks they can handle any and all situations that can arise is a premadonna and is more fit to be in a rock band that supporting servers. Buying a boxed version with a support contract is a much wiser business choice, otherwise you're just asking for trouble.

Not all Linux distributions are free as in beer. SUSE, up until SUN released the OpenSUSE distro, contained proprietary code, and could not be released in whole for public download. Also, Redhat has taken a more recluse type of stance, with the community driven Fedora Core project being their testbed for their licensed and sold Redhat Enterprise server.

Many IBM servers are sold without OS, I'll agree. But IBM knows what OS is going to be installed, usually it's Windows, RedHat, or SUSE. If the OS comes from IBM, it's generally AIX. IBM doesn't want the headache of having to support Linux, so they leave that up to the individual distributors. Other OEM's are also doing this. It's business smart.

There is a distinction between Linux and Unix variants, and that's important to recognize. Solaris, AIX, SCO UNIX, XENIX, and the BSD flavors are all UNIX OS's. Linux is a Unix-like OS, so not a true Unix. Most of the above have been optimized to run on different platforms, including RISC, AMD x86/64, and Intel architectures. I know I'm leaving some out, but you should get the idea.

Also, the study looks at full servers being sold, not LAN raids, LAN enclosures, appliances, etc... A router is not a server. In light of the context of the study, you can't really include non-server peripherals.
Posted by fireball74 (80 comments )
Link Flag
You are talking software
Companies don't buy $20,000 servers to download a copy of FreeBSD and support it themselves.

There is life outside of your parents basement.
Posted by Dachi (797 comments )
Link Flag
When was the last time you walked into a shop and lifted a copy of aix off a shelf? Most businesses buy their hardware as a bundle, including the server software and support. And if Windows has such a small market share, all these sun, ibm and other ecis members should stop complaining to regulators about them being a monopoly.
Posted by Pascoli (74 comments )
Link Flag
"Any Sys Admin that downloads and installs a non-supported version of an OS on a production server needs to be fired."

I just bought two servers for $50k from Dell for my company, without a bundled OS. The version of Linux I installed on it is nevertheless supported. So much for fireball74's and Dachi's comments.
Posted by mike234x (26 comments )
Link Flag
You have point.
I haven't seen large enterprise, can't tell what happens there.

But small/medium business (up to 500 employees) has already switched to PC servers completely. All of my emploers in last five years used extensively and exclusively Linux and Windows homebrew servers.

People sort'a tired of paying $20k to Sun just to get performance they can get from Intel's Xeon system for $5k. Even if you include braindamaging experience with Wind0ze it's still cheaper. Buy 4 such systems, out them into redundant configuration, and no way Sun can beat that.

Local hardware shops are doing pretty good job supporting such PC systems. No major problems to date.
Posted by Philips (400 comments )
Reply Link Flag
This makes perfect sense
It doesn't surprise me that there are more Windows servers in use. When we replaced most of our Windows servers with *nix boxes a few years ago, the total number of servers needed dropped by 2/3. (and the hours of support needed dropped even more)

The old rule of one app per Windows server, for the most part is still true, where it has always been common to run multiple apps on Unix/Linux/BSD servers.
Posted by rcrusoe (1305 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Another Stellar point
Well said...

Intersting how Microsoft cannot seem to understand that the database should OWN the memory process, not the OS or kernal.....
Posted by VastOne (7 comments )
Link Flag
Market size by $$$ is not an accurate measure
If you have company A that charges $10,000 and ships 1 unit and company B that charges $100 per unit and ships 10 units, this type of analysis shows company A as having the bigger market share. But there are more units of company B's product installed. Only by considering installed units, not sales, can you understand the full "market" if you will.
Posted by tizzyd--2008 (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
$$$ is more accurate than unit sales.
What rubbish. Of course company A has a bigger market share by sales. Thats like trying to say free versions of legacy OSs like Linux should be counted. This is a 'market' survey - i.e. about spending money. Not about what Joe Bloggs installs for free on his Home PC.
Posted by richto (895 comments )
Link Flag
Complete and utter bulls**t!
Forget the fact that just about all variants of UNIX are FREE for a second...

You name ONE Windows server that can REMOTELY compare to a Sun Fire midrange server, like the 24-CPU 6800. (I'm not even going to discuss the 104-CPU Sun Fire 15K because there is NOTHING in the Windows world that comes close!)

Name one Windows server that can take the beating (physically and electronically) of most UNIX-based servers! Most IT shops have to replace with Windows servers every few years. Most UNIX IT shops know how to keep their hardware runnung because UNIX servers are built like tanks compared to their commodity-loaded, Windows counterparts!

For CNET to make this unbelievably IREESPONSIBLE claim is like saying that Yugos are the top car compares to Kia because two $5,000 Yugos were sold instead of one $9,500 Kia! Yeah, drive each for a while and let us know which one collapses first.

This article is nothing more than Microsoft FUD disguised as a news article, which is what I expect from CNet nowadays.
Posted by JLBer (100 comments )
Reply Link Flag
CNET not directly responsible
Whilst I agree with your statement, CNET isn't directly responsible. CNET simply reported the information, IDC & Gartner were the ones who provided the statistics. Matthew Eastwood apparently had the most to say. I suggest you take your points to those parties rather than suggesting that CNET is responsible for falacies on their own accord.
Posted by Xires (2 comments )
Link Flag
Wake up and smell the coffee
.Net is dominating the market, and the recent gains Windows can be attributed to this.

56% of new enterprise application development in 2004 was .Net based vs. 44% J2EE. Those applications were rolled into production in 2005 resulting in the numbers being reported by CNET.

You claim most UNIX distros are free, but the vast majority of enterprise servers are not free, thaey are paid for. This is why there is a $5.3B number associated with Linux servers which are obviously amongst the "free" OS platforms you reference.

More developers claimed C# as a primary development language in 2005 than Java (54% vs 48%).

~35% of mission critical applications deployed in the enterprise are now .Net based vs. ~25% J2EE.

Microsoft owns the market for .Net, while the J2EE market is crowded with competitors. In the end this means the boys in Redmond have at least twice the market share of the largest Unix/J2EE platform provider.

Time to wake up folks, Windows has arrived in the enterprise infrastructure market and it is gaining market share hand over fist. Ignoring the facts and sticking your head in the sand is not going to change the market.

Rick Houlihan
Software Development Advisor
IBM Systems Technology Group
Posted by rhoulihan (3 comments )
Link Flag
I want to see a bank running Micrsoft Web Services on an Intel machine...and then I want to see the VP in charge of IT at that bank and his stark white hair...at age 39
Posted by VastOne (7 comments )
Link Flag
I dunno
We're doing OK with a combination of Windows Server 2003 & Biztalk 2004 & it's MQ adaptor.
Posted by (409 comments )
Link Flag
You religious nuts kill me!
Its only a computer OS! I use a mix of AS/400, AIX, Linux, and Windows in the office. They all have there strengths and weaknesses. However when I go home I dont worry about dominate market share by platform. <sigh> Get a life!
Posted by p.shearer (60 comments )
Reply Link Flag
So there is intelligent life here!
Posted by just_some_guy (231 comments )
Link Flag
Oustside of the techie geek community this is signficant
You may not worry about market share, but those of is in the business of selling servers sure do.

There is life outside of the computer screen, believe it or not, and this little fact is going to cause some serious grief for alot of UNIX server manufacturers.
Posted by rhoulihan (3 comments )
Link Flag
Which is probably why
you do not make much money
Posted by VastOne (7 comments )
Link Flag
Cool down, it's not real share results, it's just PR for ServerTracker...
...which as usual, CNet eats up with a spoon.
Posted by M C (598 comments )
Reply Link Flag
The Circle of Life
Like many who read CNET, I've been in computing for several decades. I've seen OSes and various software products come and go. I've also seen people get seriously hooked on a product, as if they had much more than just a professional attachment to it. It is time for people to embrace the inevitable. Windows is maturing over time. It will continue to get better and then one day will become out-dated and get replaced by some other product. It is the software circle of life.

You can hold onto UNIX as much as you'd like and crap all over Windows too. The truth is that UNIX OS designers have decided that their product is mature and established and are not as interested as MSFT in driving more features into the OS. In fact, they lampoon MSFT for feature bloat. Yet MSFT continues to move ahead and constantly make incremental improvements in their platform. As a result, more people are adopting Windows because it continues to improve and they have 5-10 year vision for more features they want to provide in their OS.

But, not to worry. The circle of life still applies. 20 years from now a new generation of people will be on a their version of a website debating why some new OS from some new company is better than Windows. Windows will go the way of the mainframe OS, and the OS religious debate will go on.

Posted by James_U (80 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Very nice,,,
Well said, you deserve a pat on the back...pat pat
Posted by VastOne (7 comments )
Link Flag
Very well said!
Windows as an OS is improving over time.

If we didn't care so much for Windows, we wouldn't be complaining so much about business driven decisions to insert stuff into the OS that compromise important OS essentials such as security and stability.

It's the incremental improvements in security and stability that we appreciate, its the business driven feature bloat and applications "built into Windows" due to another market grabbing play that we do not.

Another thing we'd like to see improvements in is licensing: It's such a convoluted,complex, and expensive world out there trying to keep up with the changes in Microsoft's licensing agreements.
Posted by Maccess (610 comments )
Link Flag
Feel Sorry for Poor Old Sun
Poor old Sun is getting further and further behind. The once proud king of servers is now lagging in fourth place, continuing to lose Unix market share, and now peddling Windows servers as well to survive as a company. It despised and opposed Linux when everybody was heading that way, and it's now screaming "we do Linux, too!" in yet another embarrassing reversal. So long, Sun, we'll always remember you.
Posted by unelson (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
There's hope for Sun yet...
...as long as their former CTO remains the CEO of Google. Dr Schmidt and team in Mountain View can afford to snap up Sun from the Googleplex petty cash fund. Maybe this isn't a very far fetched notion if Google decides to get into the business of making operating systems and servers. Just saying.
Posted by i_made_this (302 comments )
Link Flag
Why feel sorry?
Sun never despised linux, Sun has done more for linux than any major vendor. If there was no Sun, everyone would be running windows now and linux would not even be talked about. Until Sun brought Unix to the masses, Unix was strictly for scientific computing. Interest in Solaris brought on the popularity of Linux because at a time it was a good low cost alternitive, but now when you think Linux you think Red Hat which when you take everything into account is the most expensive and least reliable server OS. Sun has had problems with executive management transitions, bad timing and lost momentum, which is now changing.

Sun has the cheapest, most reliable server platform and the stage is set for a turnaround with Solaris 10/Open Solaris, Niagra and Galaxy leading the way. That is why Sun shipped the most boxes of the Big Three with the least amount of revenue.

IBM pretends to be cool and care about linux, but in reality they take IT operations hostage through GS and only care about money. Linux is IBMs way of initial contact. Linux is a very small percentage of IBMs business. IBM sold the information systems that organized the holocost, so think about that.

HP has pretty good technology for the most part but Itanium is crap, which is to bad because the intentions were good.
Posted by zkysr (78 comments )
Link Flag
I feel sorry for sun
to me still linux based systems are good for server.
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://mannan.zabvision.edu.pk" target="_newWindow">http://mannan.zabvision.edu.pk</a>
Posted by itsmani1 (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Nix servers do more with less
Normally we have one backup server for every 3 nix servers for fall back in case the main server crashes. Windows normally requires one backup server for one live server. This is why Windows are selling more servers than nix servers and also i thing Linux servers should be clubbed with Unix servers as Linux is just another flavour of Unix.
Posted by silkysk (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
YOu mean less for more!
What rubbish, UNIX (including LINUX) usually costs far more to own, and Windows outtperforms Linux and UNIX on the same hardware on pretty much every benchmark in existence.

Not to mention the much greater difficulty of keeping the far greater number of security patches for UNIX up to date.
Posted by richto (895 comments )
Link Flag
your admins suc*...
No sure what you do with your windows server, are you running windows 98? Your admins must be that bad if you need that kind of backup.
Posted by FutureGuy (742 comments )
Link Flag
Windows server does better than that!
With Windows clustering, we have 4 servers in a cluster ALL working at once and providing fault tolerance, so we dont waste a box every three servers like your UNIX solution.
Posted by richto (895 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Dude, there is clustering on Nixes
Have you heard of Beowulf and OpenMosix clusters?! don't you know that the top computing clusters in the world use some kind of Unix-like OS for clustering?!
Posted by wakizaki (44 comments )
Link Flag
I love this.....
It has to happen. I love Windows...
Posted by vsood2 (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Zealots miss the point
All these posts about Linux being better... about actual install base... about irresponsible reporting....

They all have one thing in common: They COMPLETELY miss the point.

This isn't an article about which system is better or which system is cheaper or which system can do more. This is an article about which system is generating the most REVENUE.

Open Source zealots generally consider a situation without regard to financial resources because they still believe that Linux is "free."

The bottom line is that money drives business. The influence of "free" software simply erodes the commercial market for software products. It doesn't allow for future development, product support, or research.

OSS "wins" by eliminating a market... NOT by dominating it.

Anybody interested in the future of IT is paying close attention to the IT market, and where the money goes. "Free" software has yet to match the ingenuity, innovation, and benefits of commercial software, and is only positioned where it is today because it has freely copied so many commercially developed ideas. Some would argue, it has even stolen ideas.

Like I said... those interested in the future of the commercial software market are following where the money goes. Those interested simply in diminishing the commercial software market are counting Linux servers.
Posted by David Arbogast (1709 comments )
Reply Link Flag
You miss the point
You can't make a person innovative by paying him more. All my life I was told that money follows brillian pepople. Some of them may endup in a corporation to draw a fat paycheck. Some choose not to and some of those bright minds are part of open-source commnunity. This is not to say that all free software is good. But we can expect some respect for people who put in their time to give us something without asking for anything in return.
Posted by indrakanti (90 comments )
Link Flag
I forgot to mention...
that you are writing your posts on C|NET which (according to Netcraft) is running Apache server on Linux. So, if you stop being a hypocrite and get the hell out here we all will appreciate.

Posted by indrakanti (90 comments )
Link Flag
Oh Horse Pooh
Your claims that Open Source "wins" by "eliminating a market" is just silly. Name three markets that have been eliminated by open source software. Markets where OS software does exist have become highly competitive in some areas while in others has n't registered a mark.

Secondly, because there is a presence of open source software does not imply that there is no commercial viabilitly. Beyond basic programming, look who supports OS products? There are a ton of commercial interests that live, thrive and make money in the same marketplace as closed-source. While the end result a competitive product in a competitive market, the business' methodology for being a competitor has little to no effect.

Your assertions of "free" software eroding commercial is also fairly baseless. "Free" software has to be removed from the context of open source in your argument because one item that is open source is not necessarily "free" in terms of intitial cost or cost to purchase. i.e. you can have access to the source after you purchase a copy. IBM is still, to this day, one of the most relevant technology companies in business. They've shifted their focus to open source and providing support services for open-source solutions. Which means there is still a lot of commercial viability in the market. Your competitor may have changed tactics but the marketplace is still the same.
Posted by sumwatt (69 comments )
Link Flag
Excellent Post
This post put into words what most OSS worshipers don't and probably will never understand.
Posted by FutureGuy (742 comments )
Link Flag
Mac OS X the new UNIX!
What many reporters miss is that arguably, Mac OS X is the best
UNIX, certainly for UNIX on the desktop -- power and use of use
and maintainability...

Once Apple gets further into the Server business, Mac OS X
Server is likeley to start displacing other UNIX's.

I would not be suprised to see Apple swallow a "big iron" UNIX
vendor in the future...
Posted by libertyforall1776 (650 comments )
Reply Link Flag
This doesn't count the countless free unix-based systems
This is just a rediculous article. They should report on numbers not dollars. Seeing how windows server is far more expensive and forces the use of more expensive hardware to run it. They don't take into account the many and varied free versions of unix-like server operating systems that anyone can download. (I.E. Fedora Core from Redhat, FreeBSD, Slackware Linux, etc, etc, etc...).
Posted by Chrisnwokc (13 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Not very accurate
I just put in two RH servers in my Philippines data center, do think they included them in the survey? I wonder if they are including all those Microsoft CALs as revenue? Linux has no CALs so how can you compare by using $$$$ instead of Units?
Posted by cekortech (5 comments )
Reply Link Flag
It is like this :

If you are a stupid server administrator or you are a dumb business owner, who don't know **** about operating systems or servers but it happens to need or have a few, you will choose windows. And whenever you have a problem you'll cry on the phone for support at windows support center. You will pay like a slave and you'll pay cause you are stupid in the first place. You deserve it, you deserve windows. You are made for one another and talk on equal terms, like amateur to amateur.

If you know what you are doing, you have a brain, a logical thinking and you actually know things about Informatics and computer technology, you will choose Unix/Linux. Cause you have a brain and this operating systems actually have a logic, you will know what to do when you need to do something, you are not scared of a command line and you won't cry on any phone, cause you have a logic, you can help yourself and easy in an operating system with a good solid logic behind it. Linux and Unix are not for losers, for those windows was made.

I speak from experience with both and all operating systems and after interacting with a lot of businesses, server administrators or business owners who don't know **** about what they are doing.

And another thing, if one don't get it. There are about 500 supercomputers in the world and 85% are using Linux, while the rest use Unix. So, think again, before talking ****. If you are dumb, it doesn't mean that the world have to go down on your level. Just install Windows, be happy and most important, be quiet. Cause you make a fool out of yourself.
Posted by D`X (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
"Microsoft owns the market for .Net, [...] Rick Houlihan IBM Systems Technology Group"

Is this some sort of joke, IBM advising people to use Microsoft .Net? What could possibly be worse for IBM than for people to get locked into yet another Microsoft platform? Has IBM learned nothing from the 90's?
Posted by mike234x (26 comments )
Reply Link Flag

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