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Windows Bumps Unix as Top Server OS 514

Ivan writes " 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.""
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Windows Bumps Unix as Top Server OS

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 22, 2006 @10:02AM (#14775998)
    ... if "Unix" is Linux, OS X and the various surviving Unixes. This is (way) less impressive if it's only the latter.
  • Servers (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Ford Prefect ( 8777 ) on Wednesday February 22, 2006 @10:04AM (#14776014) Homepage
    What about server hardware sold without an operating system?

  • Well... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by endrue ( 927487 ) on Wednesday February 22, 2006 @10:05AM (#14776021)

    Okay - but are they equal in sale price?

    What weighs more, a ton of bricks or a ton of feathers? They both weigh the same but you do end up with a lot more feathers.

  • by Fr05t ( 69968 ) on Wednesday February 22, 2006 @10:05AM (#14776023)
    I have not RTFA, but I would guess the reason MS beat Unix is because Linux is picking up. I'm curious how much of this is real 'gain' for MS, vs Unix 'loss'.

  • by realnowhereman ( 263389 ) <`andyparkins' `at' `gmail.com'> on Wednesday February 22, 2006 @10:06AM (#14776025)
    Way to go Microsoft! In the Window's versus Linux war, sales is the comparison you will always win!

    Could it possibly be that Unix server sales are down because Unix servers (non-free) are being replaced with Linux servers (free)? How surprising would it then be that the dollar value spent on servers is lower for Unix?
  • not necessarily (Score:5, Insightful)

    by lucas teh geek ( 714343 ) on Wednesday February 22, 2006 @10:06AM (#14776030)
    doesnt this really just suggest that windows servers need regular replacing to keep doing their job while old unix hardware keeps doing its job just fine?
  • Re:How long (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 22, 2006 @10:07AM (#14776036)
    Maybe Windows servers just got more expensive, or Unix servers got less expensive. Perhaps a better study would talk about volume or usage -- or longevity. Perhaps Unix servers from 2002 simply lasted longer than Windows servers, so the companies using Unix didn't have to upgrade after 3 years.
  • Pretty silly..... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by countach ( 534280 ) on Wednesday February 22, 2006 @10:10AM (#14776053)
    Pretty silly to count Unix and Linux separately.
  • by l_bratch ( 865693 ) <luke@bratch.co.uk> on Wednesday February 22, 2006 @10:13AM (#14776078) Homepage
    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.

    Linux is third, so it must just be real Unix variants.
  • Re:How long (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PhrostyMcByte ( 589271 ) <phrosty@gmail.com> on Wednesday February 22, 2006 @10:14AM (#14776084) Homepage
    There are two ways I see to look at this:

    1. They say "$x billion worth" - I'd assume Windows servers are a little more expensive than *nix servers due to more licensing. The article doesn't touch on the actual number of servers sold. I've not had experience buying enterprise servers though...
    2. With many educational facilities teaching .NET in the past few years, it makes sense to see a bump in servers which might host ASP.NET. That will only increase, and I bet we'll see even more Windows servers this year.

    I guess the cause is probably somewhere in between.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 22, 2006 @10:15AM (#14776093)
    So, nothing much to see here really as this has been coming a long time.

    Anyway, for the first time Linux conquered the third spot when it comes to revenue and it continues to be the fastes growing system.
  • IDC Server Study (Score:4, Insightful)

    by NutscrapeSucks ( 446616 ) on Wednesday February 22, 2006 @10:15AM (#14776095)
    It seems like this study gets published about every two weeks on Slashdot, and everyone has misconceptions about it.

    The funny thing is that people's reactions are entirely based on the headline. If Slashdot runs the story as "Linux Server Revenue Up!", half the comments are about Microsoft going out of business or whatever. If they run the larger Windows numbers in the headline, everyone complains.

    Anyway -- Here's a laundry list of objections that will no doubt appear:

    + This study doesn't count the servers I have running Gentoo/Debian/etc
    -- Most of the revenue reported is actually hardware, so yes it does

    + How would they know what I'm running on my servers? I didn't get a preinstalled OS
    -- User surveys, statistical methods, etc. It's not an exact count.

    + My *nix servers have 234 CPUs and run more applications than my Windows servers
    -- Because the survey counts $$$ and not CPU or box counts, this sorta works itself out, but I guess this is valid.

    + We put Linux on our i486-33 Servers
    -- Who cares? IDC doesn't, they're counting new server revenue.
  • by PFI_Optix ( 936301 ) on Wednesday February 22, 2006 @10:19AM (#14776123) Journal
    ...which skews the numbers even more. Microsoft's pricing schemes make it much more economical for small businesses to buy Windows with the system, while *nix systems don't have that same price advantage.

    An administrator is a lot more likely to purchase a system without an OS and obtain his *nix distribution seperately, as there is no cost benefit and it gives him the ability to install and configure the OS without having to wipe a factory install.
  • No, it isn't. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by sczimme ( 603413 ) on Wednesday February 22, 2006 @10:24AM (#14776167)

    Pretty silly to count Unix and Linux separately.

    No, it isn't; it would be silly to lump them together.

    TFA was about sales. There are commercial Unix variants that cost money; Linux by itself does not. (There may be costs, e.g. when the Linux vendor includes N months of support, but this is not the same as paying for the OS.) Lumping 'non-free' and 'free' [as in beer] together would be like putting two dissimilar things in the same category.


  • Sales != Usage (Score:3, Insightful)

    by rtblmyazz ( 592071 ) on Wednesday February 22, 2006 @10:26AM (#14776176)
    Folks, don't confuse sales with usage. There's no accurate way to count Linux sales. Even if you count commercial distro sales, it still can't reflect true Linux usage. Take a deep breath and understand what the statistic is saying.

    { Waiting for Microsoft evil empire conspiracy posts... }
  • by NutscrapeSucks ( 446616 ) on Wednesday February 22, 2006 @10:27AM (#14776184)
    Microsoft actually makes products designed for small businesses and storefront integration shops, whereas Linux distributors focus almost exclusively on the Enterprise Fortune 500 market. MS-SBS is pretty much a "install-and-go" type product for single-server environments, There's also tons of training and marketing support for the integrator.

    I don't think there's any equivalent in the Linux world that doesn't require a lot of *nix talent for customization. (And the actual amount of *nix talent in the small biz market is practically zero.)

    So, as long as the Linux world is so focused on Wall Street, it shouldn't be a suprise that Windows is outselling them on Main Street.
  • Momentum... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Savage-Rabbit ( 308260 ) on Wednesday February 22, 2006 @10:29AM (#14776202)
    do you think it will last? Is Windows picking up momentum or is Unix losing momentum?

    Or is it simply that Linux is chewing into UNIX market share? They way that headline sounds one might think this is a case of pure market share gain for Microsoft at the expense of UNIX which is probably not the case here.
  • inevitable rise (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DeveloperAdvantage ( 923539 ) on Wednesday February 22, 2006 @10:30AM (#14776215) Homepage
    Microsoft's success on the server side was unavoidable for a number of reasons:

    1. They dominate the desktop, which gives them excellent exposure to all the business leaders who actually make the decisions about what software to purchase.

    2. Their products are reasonably stable (although individual applications sometimes crash, like Outlook, my desktop, Windows XP Pro, hasn't blue screened in a long time!). All the patches are quite inconvenient too.

    3. They have a huge amount of money to put into their development tools and .NET platform. They can acquire alot of smart people who will do good work for them.

    4. The huge increases in performance available on a simple "desktop" servers, say compared with 5 years ago, has enabled fairly complex applications to be run on them. (This is also helps linux grow). 5 years ago a person who would have suggested putting Oracle on windows would get laughed at, now at least if people laugh it is not as loud or as long.

    5. Microsoft knows how to profit from software, whereas many of the unix companies counted on making profits from hardware. Not a good business to be in when cost keeps falling so drastically for a given level of performance.

    It has taken them a long time to come this far, I think longer than most people anticipated, but now they have achieved a significant level of success.
  • Re:not necessarily (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Lee_in_KC ( 816490 ) on Wednesday February 22, 2006 @10:37AM (#14776265)

    "doesnt this really just suggest that windows servers need regular replacing to keep doing their job while old unix hardware keeps doing its job just fine?"


    If you are making a living in IT you know that you are still replacing servers as they roll off warranty and as they are fully depreciated. I'd no more put one of my Oracle databases on an old Linux machine than an old Windows machine. Requirements always go up, not down. Saying you can run Linux on older hardware is a misleading statement.

    I suppose if a company is using Linux because it was free, or using UNIX of some form because it "runs on older hardware" they get what they deserve anyway - that's not the way to run an IT shop.

    The change is likely due to the increase in blade-type systems which are well suited to a Windows environment. You can use a UNIX server environment and have interoperability with the end-users' desktop systems and the domain security model, but when you can just plug another cheap blade in and not have to worry about a third party authentication scheme, it makes Windows a pretty easy choice. Some of the arguments posted about not being able to run more than one app are not a shortcoming in the OS but rather a shortcoming in the developers. Plus, who cares if you need 5x$1000 blades to run 5 apps on Windows? It would cost more than $5000 to get the same sort of horsepower in a UNIX box.

    Tools my friends, these are just tools. They don't know or care if you religiously defend them. Your IT careers will be more successful if you learn to use a variety of tools, each what is appropriate for the job.

  • by harshmanrob ( 955287 ) on Wednesday February 22, 2006 @10:40AM (#14776282) Journal
    By installing Windows, IT managers and execs need only the 800-number lifeline versus paying a IT professional to manage an open source-based system. I have seen too many times a Unix system replaced with x86s running Wintel and employees shown the door immediately afterwards. Canning people does wonders for taxes, social security matching, paying into insurance plans, etc. Microsoft says people are not a good investment.
  • Re:Servers (Score:3, Insightful)

    by GuyverDH ( 232921 ) on Wednesday February 22, 2006 @10:44AM (#14776314)
    According to some *inside* information that I have, several vendors were required to *buy* MS licenses, regardless of which OS the customer was requesting to have pre-loaded on the hardware.

    So - for every box purchased, pre-loaded with Linux, it also generated a *sale* for Microsoft.

    Now, it's been a year or two since I last checked into this, so I cannot say whether or not this *agreement* is still in force. However, I would not be surprised to see this still be the case.
  • Re:How long (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 22, 2006 @10:51AM (#14776359)
    I buy servers for my company all the time. A proprietry Unix box costs between 6 and 60 times as much as the average Intel box. Whether the Intel box has Windows or Linux makes no difference - we pay for both, and it is an insignificant slice of the cost.

    How many Windows boxes where replaced with Linux last year where I work? Answer: None. How many Unix systems where replaced with Linux? Answer: Hundreds.

    This is why Windows/Linux eats into HP-UX/AIX/Solaris market share.

  • Neither (Score:5, Insightful)

    by millahtime ( 710421 ) on Wednesday February 22, 2006 @10:52AM (#14776367) Homepage Journal
    The idea here is sales. This does not talk about usage, swithing, or anything else.

    So, all of the free downloads and installs are not counted here. Windows had a lot of sales, unix lost some and Linux increased in sales. That's dollars and cents not usage.

    With all of the free solaris downloads, linux downloads, and BSD downloads it's no suprise that unix purchases are going down. Why pay for it if you can get it free?
  • Re:How long (Score:3, Insightful)

    by N3WBI3 ( 595976 ) on Wednesday February 22, 2006 @11:15AM (#14776530) Homepage
    The real question is where do we want to count Linux in all this. If, as you seem to be doing, we do not count Linux with UNIX then I am sure UNIX is receding in market share. I tend to count *Nix as including Linux which is far cheaper to implement (Especially across environments).
  • Re:Linux? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by hey! ( 33014 ) on Wednesday February 22, 2006 @11:15AM (#14776533) Homepage Journal
    In related news, goose has supplanted duck as the second most popular fowl. Knazzles moved up to fourth place with sales growth that exactly mirrors the declining popularity of duck. Knazzles are a new fowl that walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, and tastes like a duck, but is not a duck.
  • by 16K Ram Pack ( 690082 ) <[tim.almond] [at] [gmail.com]> on Wednesday February 22, 2006 @11:19AM (#14776562) Homepage
    I'll give you a possible reason: Standard Product Catalogue.

    If you work in a large bureaucracy, it's often a lot easier to order a known item that's been through the process of getting on the approved list than to ask for the cheaper item that hasn't.

  • Re:How long (Score:5, Insightful)

    by slashdotnickname ( 882178 ) on Wednesday February 22, 2006 @11:20AM (#14776569)
    Perhaps a better study would talk about volume or usage -- or longevity.

    Why would a market share report, whose audience is investors, want to report on that?

    Sure, Unix boxes last longer... plenty of studies have established that... but these people are tracking sales figures.
  • by archen ( 447353 ) on Wednesday February 22, 2006 @11:23AM (#14776585)
    I work for a small business, and let me tell you - small servers are like the freaking PLAGUE with windows. Every solution vendor wants their OWN server to themselves. I laugh every time I see MS ads talking about consolidation. That's news to me. The most humorous ad I've seen this year was from IBM where this guy is talking about "These generic servers, they keep multiplying... they must have a queen" -- too true.

    I've since stopped even trying to fight for "two things on one server". I've just seen them fall over dead too many times because of a crappy application. Simple upgrades become a nightmare when one application needs one thing, and the other wants a different version.

    The FreeBSD/Linux boxes on the network do a TON of different things, and only require different boxes if they are in different physical locations, or the application scales past one smaller server. As I've said many times before, MS's biggest friend and worst enemy are all of these crappy software solutions that require Windows.
  • Re:inevitable rise (Score:3, Insightful)

    by NutscrapeSucks ( 446616 ) on Wednesday February 22, 2006 @11:23AM (#14776589)
    I think you missed a big factor -- which is that Microsoft knows their server market -- Intranet -- and concentrates products there -- ActiveDirectory, Exchange, SMS, File+Print, and so on.

    Meanwhile, the *nix world concentrates on Internet hosting and Enterprise Applications (Java/Oracle/etc).In most cases Windows servers don't even compete with Unix servers because the strength of the application-set is almost entirely different. Many or even most companies actually buy both, depending on their needs (shocker!)

    Novell is really the only straight-on competitor to MS, and they've been fading for some time, and haven't totally positioned SUSE as a NetWare replacement (yet).
  • by walterbyrd ( 182728 ) on Wednesday February 22, 2006 @11:38AM (#14776742)
    If you are right, then msft has a strong TCO argument.

    Business is competitive. You can't expect companies to want to pay more than they have to.
  • by Kadin2048 ( 468275 ) <slashdot.kadin@x[ ].net ['oxy' in gap]> on Wednesday February 22, 2006 @11:43AM (#14776789) Homepage Journal
    "Unix" is just the proprietary, old-school variants -- so HP-UX, Solaris, probably AIX and some other ones I'm forgetting. (Does SGI still sell Irix?) I'm not sure what they do with BSD.

    Linux isn't counted in there, it's recorded separately. But even recorded separately, and marked only by hardware sales dollars (not the most flattering number to use, for a FREE operating system that runs on almost anything), it comes in third. So if you bought a server that came bundled with a Windows license, but then installed Linux on it, it's counted as a "Windows sale." The only things, I think, that are being counted are actual "Linux servers," like you can buy from Dell or IBM.

    So I think the picture this paints is pretty good for free software. Bad for proprietary Unix vendors, but the writing's been on the wall for a while, guys. Hope you cashed out your options when the going was good.

    The growth in Windows servers is unfortunate but expected, as more people want to start doing .NET and Terminal Server stuff; building systems that integrate tightly (one might say incestously) with the client's OS and applications. Personally I haven't seen much indication that Windows servers are really cutting into *nix's core markets -- particularly HTTP and email. Others might be able to provide counterexamples, but in general I think this is a pretty positive report altogether for Linux.
  • Re:Servers (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bcattwoo ( 737354 ) on Wednesday February 22, 2006 @11:45AM (#14776811)
    that I will consider my rights violated, with the Usual Consequences, if I am counted amongst its registered users.

    and what rights would those be?

  • by typical ( 886006 ) on Wednesday February 22, 2006 @12:15PM (#14777069) Journal
    Look at the numbers. They are *dollar values*. They are not "number of installed servers this year". There's a reason for that.

    You know whose lunch Linux has been eating? Solaris's. AIX's. HP/UX's.

    You know how much a typical Solaris deployment with commercial servers would have cost? Right. $$$.

    You know how much a typical *Linux* server costs? Right. In most cases, nothing. Sure, you can get Red Hat Enterprise and use a commercial Apache replacement and a commercial ssh, but that isn't what most Linux servers I'm aware of are running.

    This has been making the dollar size of the market drop like a stone. That says nothing about amount of deployments. That just says that Sun and friends are bringing a lot less money home than they used to, and it's staying with the people who are using the servers.

    "Windows Bumps Unix as Top Server OS"? Hardly. "Windows Bumps Unix as Most Expensive Server OS", perhaps.
  • Re:not momentum (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 22, 2006 @12:46PM (#14777347)
    In fact, Windows XP still supports installation on a fat filesystem, so even in the 2005 you can be faced with truncated filenames.

    (a) Did you miss the memo? It's 2006 now.
    (b) Anybody who installs XP on FAT deserves to be shot. There's been no good reason to use anything but NTFS in Windows since 1999.
    (c) FAT supports long filenames anyway. No application written since 1995 is even going to look for truncated filenames.

    In fact, if I remember correctly, I think that even when you install XP on a NTFS filesystem, the operative system generates automatically truncated filenames, even if just to preserve compatibility with old msdos apps (which work under a emulated environment in xp, but they still need to be able to use the available files and directories in the filesystem)

    So either you don't use microsoft operative systems, or you don't use them beyond of IE and explorer.exe

    The only way I can get that statement to make any sense at all is if I assume that you are under the impression that the only programs that exist for Microsoft operating systems are IE, Explorer, and MS-DOS applications.

    I personally have been running Win2k since 1999, and the only times I have used truncated filenames in that time have been when I'm ssh'ing in from a Linux box and can't be bothered to figure out how to tweak the quoting so that the Unix shell will cope with the spaces in my paths.
  • by WinterSolstice ( 223271 ) on Wednesday February 22, 2006 @01:21PM (#14777608)
    Ironically, in 1993 I was supporting both Irix and Win NT (3.1/3.51 I think). Our impression was that NT was pretty much the best thing since sliced bread.

    It had:
    Fine grained user security (far better than rwx)
    Easy and powerful groups
    Cheap hardware (ever price an SGI department server?)
    Real-time compression
    Easy transition for Mac and Windows people. (A lot easier than Irix, at least)

    We ran Hummingbird for the Unix/WAIS/Gopher/Archie stuff, used a domain for the 15 Win 3.11 machines and 3.51 for a couple workstations and a server. Overall, people loved it. It also saved something around 8k per desk or so.

    Now however, I think Windows has fallen from the core ideals. I would love to be a windows admin if things worked as advertised. Unfortunately, they don't. The long-standing issues with using more than 4GBs of RAM, the IIS instability, the viruses, the bundling IE with the server, and the processor limits have driven it to a desktop land. In a world where Unix can address 200-300 GBs of RAM in a server, but Windows can't even get 64bit out there consistently the sales numbers really don't matter.

  • in other news (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DaveJay ( 133437 ) on Wednesday February 22, 2006 @03:23PM (#14778625)
    I have two economy cars, and one minivan. The minivan cost more than twice what the economy cars cost. For the first time in history, minivan sales have taken the lead over econony car sales in my household!


Forty two.