About that silly "fastest growing OSes" thing

In case you hadn't heard Microsoft announced their Q3 financial results, which of course lead to the usual suspects writing posts about how Microsoft is a doomed company and Apple is the future.

However there is one headline that while being reworded has the same basic message: OS X and Linux Growing Faster Than Windows.

It is this headline that Klint Finley used in a post at ReadWriteWeb and is the latest one today to really irritate me because it is being based on the two things with the first being Windows 7 while setting records for the fastest selling OS in history saw a dip of 4% in Microsoft earnings. The second source of this imaginative massaging of numbers is a Gartner report, which should immediately be considered suspect.

However. Let's look at what is being said in the Gartner report:

Linux (server) and Mac OS were the fastest-growing subsegments in the server and client OS segments, respectively, while Microsoft maintained its leading position in the overall OS market, with 78.6 percent market share.

First the Linux matter.

There is no denying, and no-one in their right mind has ever denied that Linux rules the server market; and it will continue to do so for a very long time, but nowhere in the Gartner report does it give any percentage of how Linux was beating out Microsoft products. In fact what they do say is that Linux was the fastest growing subsegment:
"In the server OS market, Linux (server) was the fastest-growing subsegment in 2010 as end users adopted more open-standard systems. Within the Unix OS market, IBM AIX had high single-digit growth, but Unix generally experienced modest or negative growth," said Alan Dayley, managing vice president at Gartner. "The EOL threat for Unix OSs such as Tru64 and NetWare pushed the 'other proprietary Unix' subsegment down 39.6 percent in 2010 as some vendors retired their proprietary Unix and moved users to more open systems."
This isn't a case of Linux beating out Windows but rather it taking marketshare away from other UNIX based server providers. As much as Microsoft would like to see some big growth in the server market that isn't likely to change anytime soon as Linux based servers are the defacto standard of the majority of web companies out there as well as being a favorite of new startups.

Plus does 5.7% really equate faster growth or it is just a natural growth curve based on the number of new servers that have come online over the last year?

Now about those Mac OS X numbers.

Gartner has a number of 15.8% as its growth but I have also seen 23% being bandied about as being Mac's growth point but regardless, this fastest growing OS is an operating system that only had 1.6% market share in 2009 and grew to 1.7% in 2010. This is an OS that hasn't even broken the 10% market share level, and this is also at a time where Microsoft went from a 77.9% market share in 2009 to a 78.6% market share in 2010.

Where's the fastest growth that everyone is babbling about, a fraction of a percent difference between the two isn't faster growth. No, what it is though is normal market growth across all the companies as more people start actually using computers.

Is Apple, or rather its Mac division growing? Of course it is and 15.8%, or even 23% growth is gratifying to see especially in a time when there is increasing choice of platforms. Lets be real here though - as much fun as numbers like these from Gartner are, and provide excellent fodder for pageview headlines, there is no fastest growingsituation here. It's just normal growth so get back to me on this fastest growth thing when we start seeing Windows market share going down at the same rate that Mac is.

Originally posted at WinExtra and reposted here with permission