Microsoft tightened its grip of the desktop operating system market in 1997, but the OS market as a whole showed only paltry growth over the year, suggesting Microsoft has little headroom.
According to a new report from IDC, worldwide sales of new licences and competitive upgrades grew by just 2.3 per cent last year. Microsoft grabbed 87 per cent of the 76.6 million shipments. Apple and IBM, its two closest competitors, together added up to only 6.6 per cent, IDC said.
Microsoft by itself occupies the top three slots in the desktop OS ranking. Windows 95 accounted for 69.4 per cent. Windows NT saw its market share triple, claiming 9.2 per cent compared to last year's three per cent. Windows 3.x dropped off into third place with 7.7 per cent, and the Macintosh OS only managed 4.6 per cent.
These figures, combined with the apparent slowdown, don't leave much room for further growth for Microsoft in the OS market.
IDC attributes the poor growth to a number of factors, including the fact that many organisations are delaying the replacement of Windows 3.x systems until Windows 98 or Windows NT 5.0 become available. Other companies are satisfied with existing systems and are just refusing to upgrade, IDC suggests. Apple's refusal to license its new Mac OS 8.0 to Macintosh clone vendors also negatively impacted the market.
IDC analyst Dan Kusnetzky said IS managers are focusing on controlling cost and resolving Year 2000 issues, and are evaluating network computing and low cost or free operating systems such as Linux.
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