OS Wars in 2011

It has become fashionable to say it’s always about applications and not the platform when someone chooses in IT. I don’t buy that for a minute, otherwise you would find all OS’s represented fairly on retail shelves. That said, it is interesting to look at platforms used to download software from servers. Sourceforge keeps stats:

  • about 59 million times per day someone uses that other OS to download something from Sourceforge.net. VLC is very popular…
  • about 3.9 million times per day someone used MacOS to download something, and
  • about 3.4 million times per day someone used GNU/Linux to download something.

Date Windows Mac Linux
2/1/10 45238314 2939191 3136076
3/1/10 51756591 3297029 5647150
4/1/10 47481670 2878284 4658453
5/1/10 44482812 3061600 4689358
6/1/10 46498675 3374448 6063993
7/1/10 49494717 3889162 2909100
8/1/10 59660736 3988635 2815456
9/1/10 69250856 4140589 2901421
10/1/10 76989003 4476778 3118240
11/1/10 75165551 4686425 3121652
12/1/10 72232317 4453733 2857038
1/1/11 72248780 4892132 3011401
2/1/11 59495839 4289762 2810962
3/1/11 60285430 4184013 2876553
4/1/11 54454688 3644237 2483768
5/1/11 59202499 3962524 2859275
6/1/11 57358480 3869793 2589837
averages 58899821 3884020 3444102
shares of “known” 88.94% 5.86% 5.20%

If, and only if, it is true that it’s only apps that matter, these numbers give us an unbiased measure of the share of platforms: 5.2% GNU/Linux, 5.9% MacOS, and 89% that other OS. It surely means that GNU/Linux prevalence in a large portion of the world exceeds 1%.

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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28 Responses to OS Wars in 2011

  1. Clarence Moon says:

    It looks like Microsoft revenues in 2000 were some $22.6 billion. They have only tripled in size since then, due to the decline that you note. Were it not for FLOSS in general and Linux in particular, they might be nearing a trillion dollars by now and would have taken over almost all business in the country!

    I don’t know where those 40 million PCs (each quarter) are going either, Mr. Pogson, but it should be easy enough to find out. From your analysis there are a couple of hundred million of them already in the wild and surely they must be getting close to filling up whatever warehouse they are being hidden within.

  2. Kozmcrae says:

    “You are focusing on one product line for one short period of time, Mr. Pogson.”

    Well, will you look at that. Clarence is allergic to his own poison.

  3. It’s a house of cards. The desktop monopoly is on its last legs and the rest of it will come tumbling after. Since the monopoly was at its strongest, around 2000, many countries have endorsed and promoted FLOSS, several OEMs have increased production of GNU/Linux PCs, Android/Linux has taken the world by storm and there is nothing to prevent GNU/Linux similarly expanding into the desktop space. M$ is coasting on inertia alone. Where are the 40 million PCs not getting M$’s licence each quarter?

  4. Clarence Moon says:

    You are focusing on one product line for one short period of time, Mr. Pogson. Surely you recognize that Microsoft’s business are all inter-related. Severs sell because desktops sell because Office sells and custom software deals are done because of the synergy of all three. Microsoft overall went from $62.5B in 2010 to $70B in 2011 and that is some 12% overall. Kinnect and Xbox added some revenues, but MSN.COM lost about the same amount. EPS overall rose nearly 30% for the second straight year.

    If you think that is a sad day for MSFT, you are not looking through the correct lens.

  5. Clarence Moon wrote, “it seems to me that any growth, even 2% or 3% is a victory.”

    Too bad they’re growing at -1% then, eh? Q3 2011 operating income down 1%. All of FY 2011 v 2010, operating income for Windows Segment was down 2%. Sad. The world sold a few more PCs, too.

  6. Kozmcrae says:

    “…it seems to me that any growth, even 2% or 3% is a victory.”

    For most everyone else that may not be enough to hang onto Microsoft stock. Microsoft’s shareholder could dump their stock overnight under the right conditions. That would leave the company owned stock and some die hards. The conditions for that to happen, though, would have to be quite severe. Just think of some of Microsoft’s spectacular failures in the past five years or so. If they haven’t caused an implosion then what would?

    But Microsoft is no longer pointed in the direction of success. They are pointed at mediocre at best, downhill at worst. When ‘8’ is released I believe the predictions of gloom and doom will turn out to be less disastrous than the reality. I believe ‘8’ will make Vista look like OS heaven. Microsoft is a huge company and will requirer a large coffin, hence many nails. Microsoft just keeps handing out the nails.

  7. Clarence Moon says:

    Restless stockholders simply sell their stock and move on to another one, at least that is what I do with my few holdings. Microsoft is not likely to go out of business anytime in the foreseeable future, I think.

    If you look at their businesses, as I am sure that they themselves look, you could see that they were not in the world domination business. They are in, among other things, the PC OS software business and they are the dominant player there.

    They essentially sell all that can be sold in that market area. They don’t sell to Apple, but Apple doesn’t buy in that market, they make their own. Linux is free for anyone who wants it, so they cannot sell to Linux users either.

    Their only worry is how big their OS Software market is and is it growing or not. So far, their market has not suffered any real setbacks. It is not growing by leaps and bounds as it once did, but it is growing somewhat.

    With money market accounts paying well under 1% interest these days, it seems to me that any growth, even 2% or 3% is a victory.

  8. Clarence Moon wrote, “the stockholders and employees at Microsoft would continue to smile. It all hinges, I think, on whether or not any of the principals at Microsoft are really focused on owning it all or are just interested in continuing success.”

    Continuous success? In games perhaps, not on the desktop. Share keeps decreasing. Growth is a fraction of what it used to be. The stockholders are restless. Stock price has been flat except for twitches since XP.

    How much more slippage can happen on the desktop segment before M$ crashes and burns? SUN, Nokia and RIM have all proven that without growth, tech stocks fall. Without monopoly there’s nothing to keep M$ on top.

  9. Kozmcrae says:

    “Rather, it is the ultimate goal for OS software suppliers and, at the end of the day, the only real game in town.”

    Clarence, you are kicking the desktop dead horse. Yes it is huge compared to any *ONE* (maybe) of the other *INDIVIDUAL* markets, but put them all together and the desktop is just another market. You really try to push the desktop as all important. Of course you do, that’s all that’s left for you to push. Office is still formidable but it too is facing the same looming monster, FLOSS.

    Your precious OS is not the only game in town, it was the only game in town. Wake up Clarence, this is the 21st Century and Microsoft is not King anymore. Microsoft is the waning empire, FLOSS is the waxing empire. If those words give you trouble just wiki the Moon… No, I’m not giving you the moon, though that’s not a bad idea. It’s the Moon you see in the night sky.

  10. Clarence Moon says:

    That is an interesting sort of outcome, Mr. Pogson, namely that Microsoft”s “share of the pie” is decreasing while the totality of available pie increases and so Microsoft manages an incremental increase year over year.

    I guess you could frame that as a Microsoft loss although the stockholders and employees at Microsoft would continue to smile. It all hinges, I think, on whether or not any of the principals at Microsoft are really focused on owning it all or are just interested in continuing success.

    I know that the latter is the case at my own company. If we beat the numbers from last year, there are bonuses galore, celebrations frequently, and lay-offs go away.

  11. Clarence Moon wrote, “it is the ultimate goal for OS software suppliers and, at the end of the day, the only real game in town.”

    Nonsense. IT is very diverse. The LinuxFoundation is supported by automakers, mainframe makers, embedded systems folks, and mobile device makers etc. The desktop is just one of many targets. GNU/Linux is a universal OS.

    Money made selling an OS is tiny compared to global software and IT services. M$ only seems to do well because it has charmed/brutalized ISVs, OEMs and retailers to fall in line. That is ending as OEMs, retailers and ISVs see there are other viable ways of making money. Wintel will continue but it’s share of the pie is shrinking. The pie may grow however and make “flat” look good but the monopoly is a house of cards.

  12. Clarence Moon says:

    It seems to me that the desktop is much more than “just the last line in the sand to cross”. Rather, it is the ultimate goal for OS software suppliers and, at the end of the day, the only real game in town.

    Microsoft makes billions of dollars in profits each quarter from sales of Windows for desktop/laptop computers. No one else makes anything at all comparable to Microsoft’s share. Apple makes their own OS, and makes some tidy sum each year selling updates, but they are the only visible alternative.

    No one makes anything selling OS for phones or tablets. Take the whole market and you have nothing to show for it.

  13. Kozmcrae says:

    “It would be an interesting exercise for you to re-visit the students that you have instructed over the past decade and see how many are using Linux today.”

    It would be interesting to see how many are using the Internet, Android mobile phones, tablets running Linux, servers… and on and on. Just like everyone else Clarence, they too use Linux. The desktop is just the last line in the sand to cross. It’s not the monster it once was. More like a pair of pants laying on the chair, across the room, in the dark.

  14. In a school, only a fraction of the PCs were in the lab under my direct observation. Students and teachers in the rest of the building had few problems or I would have heard about it. e.g. at Chemawawin School there were 153 seats but only 30 were in my lab. That school was overjoyed with the reliability, performance and flexibility of GNU/Linux. They are the envy of neighbouring schools and most city schools. My own children attended a city school that did not even have PCs in the classrooms. At Chemawawin, each classroom had a cluster of 4-7 PCs and handy access to a printer. Capital cost per seat was $600 for servers, switches, printers, scanners, and cameras. Capital cost per seat just for servers and PCs was about $300. Students:PC was about 3:1.

    In Brazil half the teachers have been introduced to GNU/Linux and hundreds of thousands of GNU/Linux PCs have been set up in labs. It costs much less than using that other OS. In Canada, we can get old PCs with that other OS for free but it’s too high a price to pay considering the re-re-reboots and malware. Where I last worked 20 of 40 PCs with XP were not working when I arrived due to malware. When I left, there were 60 GNU/Linux PCs running trouble-free. A second batch of 20 XP machines had just arrived when I left. I don’t know whether they ever got them working (shortage of cables and switches).

  15. Clarence Moon says:

    It would be an interesting exercise for you to re-visit the students that you have instructed over the past decade and see how many are using Linux today. If you believe that having to work individually with users in a classroom setting in order to get them to consider Linux for personal use is not a formidable task, then I do not know what else to say.

    But, since you like figures, consider the billion or more users in the world who now use Windows and would need to be contacted this way. How big is a class? 25? How long is the term? 4 months? Then it would only take 40 million teachers like yourself working for a term to effect the education needed to sway their choice. What do you think that would cost?

    Who would front the money to do so and how would they recoup?

  16. Clarence Moon wrote, “How are you going to get people to recognize that fact and make a commitment to change?

    That is a fairly formidable task”

    Not at all. I have been doing that since 2000. My students and I were impressed by the reliability of Caldera GNU/Linux back in 2000. I was so impressed that I started seeking gigs as a computer teacher and demonstrated GNU/Linux in many schools and a teacher’s conference. Side by side demonstrations of GNU/Linux next to that other OS on the same hardware is a powerful demonstration. Mix that with the odd innovation on the server or new monitor, keyboard/mouse and I can have hundreds of users of that other OS eating at the trough of GNU/Linux in a matter of hours. I have met a few administrators who were close-minded and unwilling to even give GNU/Linux a try but all those who did like it. In a few cases where I was officially stonewalled I found ways to get around obstacles, usually by making castoff PCs perform better than the new ones. That’s an eye-opener.

  17. oiaohm says:

    Kozmcrae
    “All Source Forge users are technically inclined. Period. Whatever OS they like or use doesn’t matter. What matters is that they are ALL technically minded.”
    Disagree someone people don’t even know they are using sourceforge that much.

    Ie heard of gimp went to download a copy for windows and magically ends up in the count. http://www.gimp.org/downloads/ Yes a person might not even have a clue what sf is about.

    Linux users visiting SF most likely will be since will be. but windows and OS X users can be joe adverage.

  18. Kozmcrae says:

    “Sourceforge visitors are looking for software and source code, it seems to me and are likely to know about Linux and understand whatever proof you or another Linux advocate might make.”

    Is that what this is about? How many SF users are Linux users? I don’t give a rats ass. It’s about the same percentage as desktop users.

    READ THE NEXT 4 SENTENCES VERY CAREFULLY.

    All Source Forge users are technically inclined. Period. Whatever OS they like or use doesn’t matter. What matters is that they are ALL technically minded.

    Do you agree or disagree?

  19. oiaohm says:

    Dr Loser those numbers are not counting svn or git downloads.

    That is counting when you download like a tar.gz file.

    “I’m actually disturbed that the Linux usage is only 5%: I’d have expected at least 50%.”

    I have not downloaded anything from sourceforge files in the last 12 months in a Linux machine. But I have synced with many repositories on sourceforge. So I don’t show in those numbers at all.

    How much do you maintain as svn directories.

    As I said I expected that number to be low. 5 percent is about right when you allow for how Linux tech people will be operating.

    Notice the one the top items downloaded on Windows tortoisesvn Linux we have svn client out box. This kinda says all those downloading svn client is doing something a Linux user would never do because that was distribution provided.

    Audacity, Gimp in the Linux repositories. Hugin is the first one that turns up downloaded by all three. Guess what it not in some distributions.

    So the numbers are bias in Windows and Mac favour. Because they will be downloading stuff the Linux guys already have.

    Utube ripper is a common one not to appear in any distribution repo.

    Basically common-sense tells you linux people will turn up a lot less at source-forge because they already have most of what is there.

  20. Clarence Moon says:

    It really has nothing to do with how well I may sleep at night, Mr. Pogson. I have no connection with Microsoft in terms of whether or not they continue to make billions from Windows and other software products or not. My income is tied to the overall PC industry and we have Windows server operator customers, various Unix version users, and Red Hat or SUSE Linux users. We win no matter who might win the OS battle. And we sell nothing for the desktop, so that really doesn’t matter to my income either.

    People seem to miss my point, I think. Koz is incapable of understanding or else just wants to troll, but you should at least give some consideration to the argument. It is simple enough to understand, I believe.

    Start with the fact that Windows is used by the vast majority of computer users. Postulate that Linux is actually better than Windows as you claim. How are you going to get people to recognize that fact and make a commitment to change?

    That is a fairly formidable task. The easiest group to convince first would be the technically oriented folk who might frequent Sourceforge. They would be a much better target than Slate fans or the average Twitter or Facebook user. Sourceforge visitors are looking for software and source code, it seems to me and are likely to know about Linux and understand whatever proof you or another Linux advocate might make.

    Plus that Sourceforge visitor is probably capable of actually switching on his own without needing much hand holding in the process.

    But only 5% of the Sourceforge visitors are currently using Linux, based on the site statistics that you cite. If the most likely sort of conversion targets only move the mark to 5%, I think that there is very little chance that the general public, with a much higher hill to climb from an effort point of view, will even do that well and that leaves Microsoft with its status quo.

  21. Clarence Moon wrote, “The fact that so few actually do that or else continue to use Linux in lieu of Windows after trying it out, argues that Linux has no chance of any widespread adoption as a desktop OS, even in the unlikely event that the mass market is exposed to the opportunity to make that choice.”

    Chuckle. Irrational. A lot of the stuff on SF is actually used in various workplaces. This means that people are being productive using FLOSS on either/both OS. That says nothing about the future of IT, only the present. Since the FLOSS could be used on GNU/Linux, folks could migrate to GNU/Linux with no issues. What if the users of that other OS visiting SF are looking for alternative apps they can eventually use on GNU/Linux? See? How many migrations have we read about where stage 1 was migrating to FLOSS apps like OpenOffice.org? Then some more specialized apps and finally, the OS?

    OTOH, there are lots of people who use PCs at home for pleasure. They want games or multimedia apps. It’s no coincidence that VLC is the most popular download. If folks get the performance they want from the old PC on XP, they could do just as well with VLC on GNU/Linux negating the need to take another step on the Wintel treadmill.

    Sleep well, Clarence.

  22. Kozmcrae says:

    “The implication that you miss is that technically astute users would be the most likely candidates for adopting Linux…”

    Oh, now I get it. You were not implying that just the Linux users were technically inclined, you are saying it outright.

    What a load of BS. Source Forge is a site for technical users no matter what their OS of choice is.

    By the way Clarence, could you untangle your words like you did on that comment a while ago. Your comment barely made any sense. Was that intentional?

    Dr Loser, you’re not any better. Here’s the point I was making: All the people who use Source Forge are technically inclined across the board no matter what OS they use.

    Can you disagree in so many words or less? Somehow I doubt it.

  23. Dr Loser says:

    One other observation on the 5% thing: on an anecdotal level, I have never downloaded something from SourceForge unless I was going to build it on *nix, or at least on Cygwin. Well, once: OpenCV, for work (I recommend Gnu/OpenCV…). And even then the obvious intent — if you go to the Willow Garage website, they comment along the lines of “our robotics engineers get antsy when they can’t work on a Linux system” — is to spread the use of Linux.

    I’m actually disturbed that the Linux usage is only 5%: I’d have expected at least 50%.

    This is bad news for me. Contrary to the presumption of various commenters on this site, I do indeed develop on Linux systems, and I usually work with software that is, for one reason or another, not available through repositories. This is actually what SourceForge is good at. I really don’t want to see it wither and die.

  24. Clarence Moon says:

    As ill-advised as I know it to be to respond to such a snotty fool as you have shown yourself to be, Koz, I cannot resist pointing out what is wrong with your position.

    First off, I said nothing that would in the least imply that only the Linux contingent using this site are technically astute. Rather I state plainly that only 5% of them are Linux fans.

    The implication that you miss is that technically astute users would be the most likely candidates for adopting Linux since they are presumed to be capable of firstly understanding the technical arguments Linux advocates consider to be compelling and secondly they are able to find a source for a Linux download and finally able to apply it to their computer.

    The fact that so few actually do that or else continue to use Linux in lieu of Windows after trying it out, argues that Linux has no chance of any widespread adoption as a desktop OS, even in the unlikely event that the mass market is exposed to the opportunity to make that choice.

  25. Kozmcrae says:

    “It seems to me that Sourceforge is a site for fairly technically astute users who are interested in open source and participating in some projects.”

    That’s a good observation Clarence and most likely correct. But you seem to be implying that the “fairly technically astute users” are the GNU/Linux users only. There is no reason to assume that. All the users, Windows, Mac and GNU/Linux would all be of the “technically astute” class. So the numbers would still be representative of each class.

    Worm your way out of that one Clarence.

  26. oiaohm says:

    Clarence Moon developers normally download the svn/git of projects for version control access and access to the latest version of source code. Not counted in those numbers.

    Users download the packages. With Linux repos lot of Linux users would not go anywhere near source-forge for stuff.

    So I am really shocked that Linux was 5 percent. I was expecting way lower.

  27. Clarence Moon says:

    Using web statistics is perilous at times since the underlying web site may not directly appeal to the category of user that one is collecting statistics about. It seems to me that Sourceforge is a site for fairly technically astute users who are interested in open source and participating in some projects.

    People who want to work with open software and source code for their own edification are not so likely to be found in the mainstream of users. The fact that 5% of these users use Linux is remarkable only as to the idea that I would expect the number to be a lot higher than that since Sourceforge visitors are certainly a lot more technically inclined and would be more familiar with Linux than the general population.

  28. Phenom says:

    War is over, Pogs.

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