Linux, Windows Server both hit by economy

Microsoft's shipments slipped by a lower percentage than Linux's, but that's nothing to cheer about, analyst stresses

An industry analyst forecast has Linux shipments slipping a bit more percentage-wise than Microsoft's Windows Server, but Microsoft is feeling the pain of the economy, too, said an analyst who worked on the report.

The IDC quarterly forecast of worldwide x86 server OS shipments for the year 2009, released last month, has Linux declining year over year by 16.1 percent, from 1.747 million shipments last year to nearly 1.47 million in 2009. Windows Server is slated to drop by 12.8 percent, from 5.75 million units in 2008 to about 5.016 million units this year, the syndicated report stated.

However, this news of Linux's greater slippage on a percentage basis is not much consolation for Microsoft, stressed analyst Matthew Eastwood, group vice president for enterprise platform research. "It's not exactly a great story for them, either," he said.

"We're projecting the market to decline for everybody," down double digits this year, Eastwood said.

The reason Linux might slip a bit more than Windows Server is that large datacenters running Linux have felt the effects of the market slowdown and are pulling back on installations, according to Eastwood. With Windows, many customers are on enterprise site licenses and deploying Windows does not cost any extra.

Overall, x86 server shipments are expected to drop 13.5 percent, including other shipments besides Linux and Windows Server. IDC's forecast, which was not vendor-sponsored, is compiled region by region, with IDC looking at economic data around gross domestic product growth.

The IDC findings do not conflict with a recent Novell-sponsored IDC report that said the down economy was driving an uptick in Linux evaluation, Eastwood said. "In the short term, Linux is down as is Windows. But over time, we believe Linux will continue to grow," as will Windows, he said.

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