IDC: Microsoft Strengthens Its Grip, Narrowing the Window of Opportunity for Other Operating Environments

FRAMINGHAM, MA – FEBRUARY 28, 2001 – Microsoft's battle with the Justice Department has not in any way weakened its grip in the client operating environment market or its leading position in the server operating environment market. In fact, during 2000, Windows strengthened its hold on both the desktop and server. According to IDC, Windows accounted for 41% of server operating environment (SOE) shipments and an overwhelming 92% of shipments for the client operating environment (COE).


"The strong are getting stronger," said Dan Kusnetzky, vice president of IDC's Operating Environments research. "In what could have easily been a tough year for Microsoft because of its transition to Windows 2000, the company managed to increase its position in both the client and the server operating environments market."

Not only did Microsoft increase its SOE shipments, it increased them at a rate significantly faster than the overall market. According to IDC, Microsoft's SOE shipments jumped 20% in 2000 while the overall market's growth was less than 13%. With 24% growth, Linux was the only other category of operating environment to increase its shipments faster than Microsoft – or to increase its shipments at all. Sun was the only bright spot in the Unix market.

On the desktop, the story was one of slowing growth, but enormous dominance by Microsoft. Only Windows and Linux increased their shipments. Windows 98/98 SE shipments were 36% more than the prior year, while Windows 95 shipments fell off dramatically. Linux remains a bit player with less than 2% market share, although growth was up by 25%. Overall, Microsoft's Windows 9x and Me operating environment shipments were only up by 8%, yet the company increased its market share by almost 3 percentage points.

"The general trend for client operating environments continues to be consolidation around 32-bit operating systems and applications," Kusnetzky said. "Unfortunately for competitors of Microsoft, this consolidation also means a general movement to Windows platforms."

Linux, though, continues to garner backing from some big guns in the IT industry, helping to drive its growth. IBM, Hewlett-Packard, and Dell are all shipping workstations and low-end servers with the Linux operating environment.

"Critics and nonbelievers can no longer dismiss the Linux market as a fad," said Al Gillen, research manager for IDC's Operating Environments program. "If leading hardware vendors are willing to risk their credibility by endorsing and placing Linux systems in the market, it's easy for customers to conclude there must be something real about Linux."

IDC recently published Server Operating Environments: 2000 Year in Review (IDC #B23731) and Client Operating Environments: 2000 Year in Review (IDC #B23849). The bulletins discuss trends in the server and client operating environment markets during 2000. Shipments are compared by vendor and platform for 1999 and 2000. The bulletins also discuss trends likely to affect the market in 2001.

To purchase either bulletin, contact Cheryl Toffel at 1-800-343-4952, extension 4389, or at

About IDC

IDC is the foremost global market intelligence and advisory firm helping clients gain insight into technology and ebusiness trends to develop sound business strategies. Using a combination of rigorous primary research, in-depth analysis, and client interaction, IDC forecasts worldwide markets and trends to deliver dependable service and client advice. More than 700 analysts in 43 countries provide global research with local content. IDC's customers comprise the world's leading IT suppliers, IT organizations, ebusiness companies and the financial community. Additional information can be found at

IDC is a division of IDG, the world's leading IT media, research and exposition company.


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