Let me first state that professionals do, in fact, use Windows. That’s just a catchy title. Or rather, a controversial, flame inducing title. But people that use their computers at home and techs that repair PCs with Windows will tell you that everyone uses Windows. Very not true. Home users needing something for internet and E-mail and word processing use Windows. And sure, maybe it’s 90% of the market. But we professionals are a little different. We need something more. We have specialized tasks that Windows may not be best suited for.
My inspiration for writing this was an experience I had at Best Buy. I was looking to purchase a USB wireless network adapter for an older Macintosh still running 10.2. The gentleman helping me proceeded to tell me that everyone hates Macs and nothing is compatible with them. I laughed and shrugged and said I liked them. As we spoke more, he asked me why I liked Macs. I shrugged again and said modestly, “Well, I’m an IT guy so I use it for a lot of things and so it’s kind of technical…” He said, “Oh no, go ahead…” I explained to him all the rich features of OS X and told him some of the applications I run and how much better it is on the Mac. He wasn’t all too familiar with what I was talking about, but nodded and conceded his unfamiliarity with that stuff. Later that day, I thought more about it and I speculated what he was probably using his computer for. And of course, I came up with gaming, internet, E-mail, word processing, and some media apps.
Now you take a look at the workstations from IBM, Sun, Novell, and Apple and none of them run Windows. But let’s also take HP as an example. They sell Windows PCs from HP at Best Buy. What they don’t sell at Best Buy from HP is their workstations running Tru64, HP-UX, OpenVMS, and Linux.
Scientists, graphic designers, architects… are they committed Windows users? A lot of them are needing some serious workstations that are good for people doing CAD/CAM, GIS, high-performance technical visualization and defence application.
And this isn’t just the case for workstations. In the world of servers, supercomputers, and mainframes Windows is not king. When people need to do serious work, they do not necessarily rely on Windows.
I’ve found the only people telling me how Windows is better are PC technicians. Ones that spend most of their time piecing together PCs and formatting them to reinstall Windows in their professional life, and most of their time gaming and downloading pirated software from torrents in their personal life. Now, once again, professionals do use Windows. But professionals disproportionately use other operating systems.
Let’s look at some numbers. I’ll start with financial figures I grabbed from Wikipedia. Microsoft’s revenue from 2007 was $51.12 billion. Let’s compare that with Sun, Apple, Novell, and IBM. Sun had revenue of $13.873 billion in the fiscal year of 2007. Apple was $24.01 billion. Novell was $1.2 billion from 2005. And IBM is listed as having revenue of $98.8 billion during the 2007 to 2008 fiscal year. Now, of course, this doesn’t say much about Windows versus other operating systems. These companies sell a lot more than operating systems. But I think it’s food for thought, taken with a grain of salt, when considering these competitors sell operating systems other than Windows, and they’re doing quite well.
So let’s now look at some figures for Windows usage.
How about servers? Let’s look at web servers. (I’m going to make an assumption here and not bother doing the research. I’m going to assume that most computers running Apache are not running Windows. After all, why spend all that money on Windows with IIS, just to install Apache?) Currently, about 60% of the internet is Apache and only about 30% is IIS. Well below the oft-quoted 90% of average users that use Windows.
Of the top 500 supercomputers as of November of 2007, only 6 were running Windows. (Windows Compute Cluster Server 2003.) Linux is at the top of the list with 381 supercomputers using it. Redhat beats out Windows with 13. Mac OS X is even being run on 2 supercomputers. IBM’s AIX is running on 26 of them.
Ultimately, what I think I’m trying to get at is Microsoft with Windows does not control the world.