UPDATE: This story was originally published, inadvertantly, as "Netcraft: IIS Dominates the Web." That should have read, "Netcraft: Windows Servers Dominate the Web."
In an interesting example of how you can alter the truth with statistics, Web-survey company Netcraft revealed this week that servers running Microsoft IIS, not Apache, are more prevalent on the Web. In the past, Netcraft had awarded Apache the top spot in its monthly surveys by a wide margin because the research company simply measured Web sites, many of which are colocated at ISPs and hosting companies. But this month, Netcraft counted the number of physical servers connected to the Web, and IIS came on top--by a landslide.
"Microsoft Windows has a significantly higher share of the Web when one counts by computer, rather than by host, as in the conventional Web Server Survey," the company noted. "The survey shows 49.6 percent of the computers running the Web are Windows based. As some of the 3 percent of computers not identified by the Netcraft operating-system detector will in reality be Windows systems, despite some uncertainty due to the survey's error margins, it would be fair to say half of public Web Servers worldwide are run on Microsoft operating systems. Although Apache runs more sites than Windows, Apache is heavily deployed at hosting companies and ISPs \[that\] strive to run as many sites as possible on a single computer to save costs. Windows is most popular with end-user and self-hosted sites, where the host-to-computer ratio is much smaller."
Netcraft also noted that Linux, with 30 percent of the market, is the second most popular Web server platform after Windows, but with a twist. Although Linux use has grown dramatically in the past few years, this growth hasn't come at the expense of Windows. According to Netcraft, Windows use has also grown during this time period. Instead, "operating systems \[that\] have lost share have been Solaris and other proprietary operating systems, and to a smaller degree Business Systems Division (BSD) operating systems," the company notes. "The trend is of Linux steadily increasing, Windows maintaining a large share, and the others slowly losing share."
The news comes at a good time for Microsoft; a recent bizarre Gartner report recommended that all IIS users abandon the Microsoft platform and seek an alternative Web server because of the high number of vulnerabilities in the IIS product. But Netcraft says that IIS use has remained steady since Gartner issued the report and it's unlikely that any major Microsoft customers will switch platforms at this point. Indeed, Netcraft notes that a new hosting-company site list shows that more that 1 million new Web sites based on Windows 2000 and Windows NT appeared this month, offsetting any damage from customers dropping the product or going out of business. Another interesting point that isn't discussed in the Netcraft survey: Underfunded dot-com companies that have been suffering through the recent economic downturn are more likely to use Apache. As more and more of these companies fail, it's likely that real-world Apache use will falter as well.
Finally, Netcraft notes that Win2K use is up. "In June 2001, a third of Microsoft operating systems were Windows 2000, up from a quarter in March 2001," the report notes. "So \[although\] these numbers confirm that the upgrade rate is slower than Microsoft originally hoped for, the pace of upgrade for public Web servers is accelerating."