Market Share Smackdown: Linux 85.4% vs. Windows 1%

But also Windows 90.89% vs. Linux 0.80%

No, Linux 85.4% vs. Windows 1% is not a typo, neither the result of erroneous information. The fact is that there is a context where the open source operating system holds the lion's king of the market while Microsoft's proprietary platform is not the only dominant OS, but is reduced to a bottom feeder in terms of its install base. In one area, the tables are completely turned around and Linux enjoys supremacy while Windows scraps for leftovers and crumbs from the leader's feast. In the land of supercomputers Linux is king, and Windows is barely a multicellular organism. But at the same time, the situation is completely reversed when it comes down to the client-side versions of Windows and Linux, with Microsoft's platform at over 90.89% of the market, while Linux is struggling under 1%.

According to data made available by Top500 from June 2008, Linux powers in excess of 85% of the world's top 500 supercomputers. The open source operating system accounts for no less than 427 of the fastest 500 computers in the world, including the first machine to ever break the petaflop barrier (it reached a performance level of 1.026 petaflop/s), the U.S. Department of Energy Los Alamos National Laboratory's "Roadrunner" built by IBM. As far as the high performance market is concerned, Linux is by far the operating system of choice, and the product's scalability, reliability, adaptability and integration capabilities with cluster architectures made it skyrocket at the top of the world's 500 supercomputers.

The first four high performance computing systems in the list run Linux, with the open source platform deployed on nine of the top 10 supercomputers. By contrast, Microsoft is in no contest position. Windows Compute Cluster Server 2003 and Windows HPC 2008 (which have now reached Release Candidate 1 stage) combined account for just 1% of the Top500 supercomputers, running on just five systems.

However, Linux's success on the HPC market is overshadowed by its inability to jump over the 1% share milestone on the client-side market. According to statistics made available by Net Applications, Windows dropped to a share of 90.89% at the end of June 2008 from 91.13% in May. During the same period of time, Linux increased its market share from 0.68% in May to 0.80% at the end of the past month. The various distributions of the open source operating system are indeed approaching the 1% mark but have yet to make a dent in Windows' dominance. And in this context, Linux 85.4% vs. Windows 1% scenarios will continue to be exceptions that confirm the rule.


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