Microsoft Windows NT Server outsold Novel Netware last year for the first time, according to a study by International Data Corp. (IDC). Sales of new NT Server licenses grew by 85% in 1996, outselling new units of NetWare 4.x by more than a factor of two, according to IDC.

Currently, Novell still has the larger marketshare for network operating systems but the lead is dwindling: Novel has 37% of the market (down from 41% in 1995) while NT's share has risen from 17% to 27% in the same time period. NT is expected to overtake Novell by the end of 1997 or early 1998.

"Novell still has the leading market share, though Microsoft has obviously gained a lot," said Lee Doyle, vice president at IDC, in Framingham, Mass. "It is probably inevitable that \[Microsoft\] will take the \[lead\] in terms of absolute market share, but that doesn't mean they'll have the same dominance in servers as they have on the client side.