An International Data Corporation (IDC) study released in March highlights Microsoft's market dominance on the desktop—and increasingly on the server. According to the report, Microsoft's desktop share grew from 89 percent in 1999 to 92 percent in 2000, as Graph 1 shows. What's even more amazing is that Microsoft's share of the server market has increased the company's lead on Linux, leaping from 38 percent of the market in 1999 to 41 percent in 2000. Linux's market share also grew strongly, though the growth is apparently coming at the expense of Novell NetWare and various versions of UNIX, not Windows 2000 and Windows NT. Linux's market share grew from 25 percent in 1999 to 27 percent in 2000, as Graph 2 shows.

On the client side, predictably, Windows is king. Not surprisingly, shipments of Win2K, NT 4.0, Windows Me, and Windows 9x represent the majority of the computing world. Win95 sales have fallen fairly dramatically as the computer world transitions to Windows Me and Win98; overall, the Win9x (including Windows Me) line grew 8 percent. On the desktop, the Mac OS holds only 4 percent of the market share, and Linux remains a bit player, with only 1 percent of the market. This news isn't a surprise given Linux's fairly immature desktop tools and dearth of full-featured end-user applications; Linux tends to perform better in the server market.

The server picture is somewhat muddled: IDC has had to change the way it reports OS usage because many people get a copy of Linux bundled with a NIC or other hardware but never actually install the OS. IDC has had to restate its 1999 Linux usage figures accordingly. On the server side, Windows usage grew 20 percent, and Linux usage grew 24 percent; both of these figures outpace the industry average of less than 13 percent. IDC reports that Red Hat, Caldera, and Turbolinux produce the Linux distributions most often used on the server.

IDC didn't release revenue figures, but as usual, revenues present a sharp contrast to the usage scenario. Because Linux is often given away free or sold inexpensively, Linux revenues represent less than 1 percent of the overall market, according to IDC. Linux companies are definitely feeling the financial pinch; a consolidation of the industry has caused stock-price dives, layoffs, mergers, and even bankruptcies. Linux companies, in general, are trying to transition to a service-revenue model, although this shift has been a rough process for most.