Today IDC announced their market sizing numbers  showing revenues for servers running Linux or Windows outpaced the sales of the rest of the market in the final quarter of 2007. Linux grew at the fastest pace clocking double digit growth 11.6 percent in the quarter. Windows came in second at 6.9 percent growth. Everything else grew at rates of 1.5% or less. This is even more impressive for Linux since IDC and the other firms only count paid Linux server shipments. As we all know, many companies buy blank servers and load free Linux on them. None of this is counted.
These numbers are closely watched by the platform software industry to measure their market success and base their investments on growth. However these numbers are not just important for vendors: developers should pay attention as well. This quarter’s numbers confirm yet again that the technology world is entering a two horse race of Linux and Windows. Users and developers ought to be prepared for that world.
When someone adopts a technology platform they are entering into an implicit futures contact. Will someone be available to support this platform five years from now? Will this platform continue to innovate and meet future computing needs? Will the applications I need now and in the future be available on this platform? Will there be broad hardware support on a variety of architectures that will enable me to use the platform in the most cost effective way over time? It is a good investment strategy to choose a platform that you know will meet your future needs. Customers know this and pick their technology accordingly.
Why does this matter to a developer? Because by choosing to build expertise in a specific area of computing developers are also entering into a futures contract. Will there be jobs available in the future based on the technology I am learning? Will there be business opportunity for me? Will there be a peer group that I can interact with that can improve me knowledge and skills? All of these things matter when developers invest their most precious commodity, which is time learning how to work with a particular platform.
It is pretty clear that the world is moving towards Linux and Windows and both of these platforms are doing their darnest to make it easy for developers to invest their time creating interesting solutions based on their technology. The thing that has always made Linux an obvious choice to a developer is the fact that it is unbelievably fun to be a part of the worldwide development community. Code talks. If you want a feature – just do it. If you want to figure out how something works the instructions are all there. The good news about investing time in Linux for a developer is that the market is growing, there will be plenty of opportunity in the future, and you can feel good about it to boot. Finally open source developers can expect to get paid 40% more on average . Not bad at all.