Unix workstations have finally been eclipsed by the combined might of Intel and Windows NT personal workstations, according to an IDC report quoted at the joint Microsoft/Intel Workstation Leadership Forum last week.
IDC placed the total value of the worldwide workstation market in 1998 at $US14.8 billion, a 2.9 per cent decline from 1997 figures. However, actual units shipped increased from 1,880,218 in 1997 to 2,350,394 in 1998. IDC attributed the growth in units shipped to the expansion of Microsoft's NT personal workstations, Unix losing its competitive edge with shipments down 6.4 per cent and revenue sliding 18.4 per cent.
Currently representing 25 per cent of total units shipped and 52 per cent of revenue in 1998, IDC predicts that Unix's popularity will deteriorate through 2003 with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of -5.1 per cent. In comparison, units of NT workstations shipped are expected to increase by 20.3 per cent. By 2003, IDC figures suggest that Unix workstations will represent only 9 per cent of the total units shipped, equalling 24 per cent of the market's revenue.
Microsoft and Intel explained the shift to NT workstations as a response to demands from users for a reliable, cost-effective and easily integrated system. "Both Microsoft and Intel have been very focused on delivering a solid workstation platform that provides all the necessary ingredients -- high performance, reliability, scalability, ease of use and low total cost of ownership -- for customers to increase efficiency and reduce costs across their technical computing environments," said Bill Gates, Microsoft chairman and CEO.
Customers have obviously reacted to these offerings with Microsoft and Intel encouraging the migration from Unix of companies such as Xerox, Ellerbe Becket, Enron, Sony and BankBoston. "We conducted a pilot project to test the viability of moving to Intel architecture and Windows NT for our high-end computing environment, and the performance of the platform, in some cases, exceeded that of our current Unix system," explained Korhan Sevenler, manager of engineering systems at Xerox.