Counting PCs and Their OS

Forrester does it right. They examined hundreds of thousands of PCs used in business and identified the OS present. Whether their sampling is a proper sample from the universe of all business, I don’t know, but it is a darn site better than web stats from random web sites.

The figures, thanks to Mary Jo Foley, clearly dispel the 1% myth for GNU/Linux. Forrester finds percentages ranging from 1% to 1.7%. Could it be just the IT guys? Perhaps. More interesting is that the much ballyhooed “7” is on only 21% of the business PCs examined and XP is on 60%. Vista’s share was cut in half, putting the lie to those who claim Vista was ever good enough or “fixed”. That other OS has a total “PC” share of 87.6%. “7” is growing about 1% share per month and XP is declining about 0.6% share per month. Folks are keeping XP until the machine dies… I guess “7” is better than nothing. MacOS is on 11% of “PC”s.

This looks promising for GNU/Linux even in business. Some of those XP machines will be converted to thin/thick clients running GNU/Linux. Why else are those GNU/Linux machines in the sample? They are prototypes. 😉

About Robert Pogson

I am a retired teacher in Canada. I taught in the subject areas where I have worked for almost forty years: maths, physics, chemistry and computers. I love hunting, fishing, picking berries and mushrooms, too.
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11 Responses to Counting PCs and Their OS

  1. twitter says:

    Robert, I think you and Adrian are talking past each other. What Adrian is worried about is users surrendering local computing as service providers use free software to make applications and storage cheaper, more reliable and more convenient than what legacy software has made them accustom to. This is a legitimate concern but hardly something to lose sleep over in and of itself.

    What is more concerning is the march towards locked down hardware and networks. As long as hardware is cheap and unencumbered, people will create their own “cloud” services which are as cheap, reliable and convenient as people in the free software world expect. The problem is that hardware and network freedom are under attack by judicial extortion, technical sabotage [2] and tivoization. Microsoft’s outrageous but unsuccessful power grab in the ARM world was particularly troubling. Also troubling is Microsoft’s push towards “security” by government mandated network virus scans under Microsoft’s control that would obviously discriminate against free software users. Some foolish universities have already implemented these systems at great cost to bandwith and reliability. ISPs have independently launched deep packet inspection hardware that blocks encrypted traffic, inserts advertisements into unencrypted traffic and strips users of any lingering illusions of privacy. Big publishers strike at the pinch points to restrict software freedom, hardware manufacture and network services, particularly cellphones. They continue to push restricted software and hardware onto users, such as iPhone and tivoized versions of Android. If people can’t find hardware to run their own services and are denied network access to serve themselves, they might turn to “the cloud” where they will be completely at the whim of the cloud’s owners.
    It will take a lot of OEM manipulation and bad laws to get us to that sorry state. As things stand, hardware is tremendously democratized. Network services should have been fixed by Open Spectrum ten years ago but Google’s white spaces and other projects make slow progress in that direction.

  2. Nothing prevents anyone from using FLOSS in the cloud. FLOSSies can compete in the cloud just as they do on any other computing device. I consider clouds like servers. I don’t really care much about what software a server is running out on the web as long as it follows standards like HTTP/HTML. Servers tend to run FLOSS because it is more efficient to do so. As long as that remains the case, the only issues are security/access of data. That will be sorted out. Clouds that don’t provide security and access to data will not be able to compete. M$ certainly will not have a monopoly on the cloud. Its desktop monopoly is on its last legs and without that monopoly M$ cannot leverage a monopoly in the cloud. The world is clinging to XP and there is a huge opportunity to move to FLOSS because it is so much easier to migrate to FLOSS than M$’s ever more complex and burdensome desktop+cloud spider’s web. This year retail shelves will finally free consumers from Wintel and that freedom will extend into the cloud. 2010 was the start of the race and FLOSS has the same or better opportunity in the cloud as non-free software.

    Free Software principles permit software that is not being distributed from complying with revelation of code. FSF cannot simply insist that revelation of code be required when providing networked services because too many players have relied on the status quo. It is far better to compete in the cloud rather than try to rein in activity there. I love FLOSS. I hate non-free stuff such as that other OS. I love servers and the cloud. It is a better way to do IT. We have already seen FaceBook reveal its ideal hardware for server farms. I expect we should eventually see FLOSS principles respected for clouds. If FLOSS proves to be efficient and monopolies can be avoided by enough players surviving and thriving, I don’t think software freedom is at risk. The problem of non-free JavaScripts sneaking into our homes is a bigger problem and one which predates the cloud. There is no EULA on most JavaScripts so the implied licence is just copyright law. If the server has given a copy freely, we have the right to run, examine the code but we cannot modify or distribute it. I think it would be great if FLOSS clouds slipped some GPL headers in with their JavaScripts or HTML codes. Then users could discriminate. Browsers could flag/block non-free clouds.

  3. Adrian Malacoda says:

    What the server is running matters little if the user cannot even get access to the source code of the program, and to the location where their data is being stored. See Richard Stallman’s essay on the topic at The FSF and GNU always tend to see things from the user’s perspective, and to them, the user is the one using the program, not the one running it on “the cloud.”

    The GNU Affero GPL is one way to defeat the threat of “cloud” lock-in by making sure that the user has access to the source code and can set up their own service on their own machine if they so desire. Unfortunately, OpenStack opts for the weaker Apache 2 license, which was designed for more corporate-friendly (as opposed to user-friendly) interests.

  4. Many cloud services will use FLOSS. see Cloud Adoption Survey Says Linux is OS of Choice

    There are concerns that non-free software may run cloud services but GNU/Linux is cheaper than that other OS and basic services like storage and compute are plentiful in FLOSS and thin clients can easily run FLOSS, so the whole share of GNU/Linux in the swarm of IT that will swirl around will be much larger than currently. That other OS and it’s fellow non-free software will have to compete on merit and price/performance is pretty hard to beat for FLOSS.

  5. Adrian Malacoda says:

    Thin clients might be appropriate in a school or corporate setting where the user does not actually own the computer (and where central administration is desired, generally), but I’d hate to see truly personal (i.e. at the home) computing being done on a foreign server or on “the cloud.” Same with Android, which Google has control over (to the extent of being able to remove apps from users’ devices, which isn’t something even Apple does).

    If the advent of FOSS results in the advent of so-called “cloud computing” then it is a Pyrrhic victory.

  6. twitter says:

    A Microsoft training manual tells us everything we need to know about analysts that Microsoft hires to tell the world what Microsoft wants to tell,

    Analysts sell out – that’s their business model. But they are very concerned that they never look like they are selling out, so that makes them very prickly to work with.

    This fits into a general effort at deception from all directions:

    Working behind the scenes to orchestrate “independent” praise of our technology, and damnation of the enemy’s, is a key evangelism function during the Slog. “Independent” analyst’s report should be issued, praising your technology and damning the competitors (or ignoring them). “Independent” consultants should write columns and articles, give conference presentations and moderate stacked panels, all on our behalf (and setting them up as experts in the new technology, available for just $200/hour). “Independent” academic sources should be cultivated and quoted (and research money granted). “Independent” courseware providers should start profiting from their early involvement in our technology. Every possible source of leverage should be sought and turned to our advantage.

    It is impossible, given the company’s deep seated dishonesty, to trust anything they pay for.

    Part of the lie is to tell people not to trust what they see with their own eyes – surrounded with signs of gnu/linux success, trolls tell us Linux is dead. Brilliant distributions like Mepis are ignored, Fedora and Debian are described as “vanity fair” publication. Much to Microsoft’s cost outside of the desktop. The world is awash with consumer grade Linux. Nook, Kindle and all the other readers are Linux. TVs, video disk players phones and all sorts of other gadgets are Linux, and many of them provide enough web access and computing power for 90% of the world to need no desktop, much less a lost in the late 90’s Windows desktop. As RMS put it, trying to argue that the free software economy does not work is like trying to say that heavier than air flight is impossible when anyone can go to the airport and see the planes taking off and landing.

    The goal of the free software movement is to liberate people, so it must encompass desktops, phones and other equipment that people have in their lives.

  7. M$ has monopoly on the desktop but that is ending. More personal computing will soon be done using other technologies: thin client, cloud, Android/Linux, GNU/Linux and ARM rather than Intel. M$ can neither kill nor control the new technology and it is starting from a standing start whereas the rest of the world is up to speed. M$ has no ability to move quickly. They are locked-in to their own cash-cows.

  8. Contrarian says:

    “I have a memory and common sense”

    “Why level downward to our dullest perception always, and praise that as common sense? The commonest sense is the sense of men asleep, which they express by snoring.”

    –H. Thoreau [Walden]

    My own thoughts on the matter are that common sense could get you through an arithmetic test, but you would be doomed when you got to calculus where you are going to need some book learning.

    Companies that provide paid studies or who do studies and charge for access have been doing that sort of thing for a long time and have to keep their reputation intact. Accusing them of lying or worse when their facts go against your wishes, i.e. your “common sense”, is counter productive.

    It is more useful to be able to interpret the facts in some favorable light. You can call that “spinning” if you don’t like the answer or you can see it as an insightful analysis if it helps your cause. To me it is absolutely clear that Linux is not used on conventional computer desktops. That is not so bad for Linux, I think, since there really are no commercial stakes involved. Canonical is run as a sort of hobby by Shuttleworth and I believe all the others are now dead, leaving only the distro fans who publish out of a sort of vanity fair motivation.

    Linux has its real place as a generic form of Unix that many tens of thousands of companies can use to replace much more expensive software (and hardware) for day to day use. It has wrecked mighty companies such as Sun Microsystems and DEC who could not hope to maintain their price realization in the face of junk box PCs suddenly capable of doing major tasks in server rooms that were once filled with high-end mini-computers. Unix lost the battle because it was a house divided with AIX, Digital Unix, HP-UX, Solaris, Irix, and many others. Microsoft has a better chance with Windows not fighting itself and better able to address any Linux threat. Plus, Windows strength is on the desktop.

  9. twitter says:

    I don’t have a secret report, I have a memory and common sense. I recall similar figures and predictions for Vista and Windows Phoney 7. More importantly, I see that Windows 7 sales have done nothing for Microsoft’s bottom line. Given the high costs of ditching XP, Microsoft will have to pay people to use Windows 7. Microsoft can’t afford that and GNU/Linux migration is cheaper, so I look forward to the end of Windows.

    If you want to really trash the report, ask yourself how it was done. I can only imagine two ways, client software or an IT survey. I suspect the Forester report did not include any desktops at Google, Apple or IBM or IBM clients like Chrysler, Lowes and others that don’t use Windows because these companies don’t have time to answer Microsoft marketing surveys and no company with common sense would let a Microsoft partner install spyware. Forrester’s software is not going to be like Debian Popcorn. Ask a Microsoft partner what people use and they will tell you it’s Microsoft.

    If you put stock in what Microsoft’s partners on Fraud street have to say, you will be using OSX, GNU/Linux and Chrome OS. Those are the choices of Apple, IBM and Google which are each bigger or about the same size as Microsoft.

  10. Contrarian says:

    “I doubt Windows 7 use in big companies and government is into the double digits yet”

    Presumably you have your own secret report? Does it cost more or less than the Forrester report?

    Personally, I don’t place much stock in any of these reports that generally only put some exquiitely exact values on what is pretty obvious to one and all. Microsoft Windows totally dominates the OS scene, Apple has been making some strong gains in the past few years, and Linux is as rare as hen’s teeth in people’s homes. Whether those percentages are 88.7, 10.8, and 1.3 or any other set of numbers really do not matter to anyone outside of the sales guys who are trying to show why they should keep their jobs. Linux doesn’t even have sales guys, so it is even more useless.

    It is enough to just look at the eTrade or other broker sites to see what sort of faith the analysts have in the various companies. They are privy to all the reports and have enough experience with reading them to understand their reliability. If they say buy Apple stock, you can believe that the numbers are right. Ditto for sell, buy, or hold Microsoft stock.

  11. twitter says:

    Forester is not a reliable source of information. I would enjoy discrediting their report but only Microsoft partners will have a copy of it, either those favored or those dumb enough to part with $500. Prior games from Microsoft partners and Microsoft include double counting of licenses instead of running systems, selective counting of systems and other games to prove the explosive growth of non starters like Vista and Windows ME. I doubt Windows 7 use in big companies and government is into the double digits yet. Android use is pervasive and people use it on the job, so Linux use is already common.

    No government office should ever use Vista or Windows 7 because both establish encrypted communications back to Microsoft. Healthcare organizations should avoid Microsoft’s new non free software for the same reason and view it as a HIPPA violation. All non free software has this capability but Microsoft has been obvious about using it.

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