Win95 lives – companies are slow to shift to 98

Course, Microsoft still owns practically all of the OS market, so can't be too worried...

Windows 98 hasn't managed to displace Windows 95 - the earlier OS is still shipping in respectable quantities, and even seems to remain the version of choice for many businesses. The data comes from an IDC survey of OS shipments last year, and although Win98 was only available for the last five months of the year, its numbers still seem unexpectedly low. IDC reckons Win98 shipped 15 million units in 98, or 17.2 per cent of the total OS market. Win95 clocked up 51 million, or 57.4 per cent, out of a total market of 89 million. That gives Microsoft a comfortable 75 per cent or thereabouts via Win9x alone, so the numbers aren't entirely unhappy for the company. Lob in 11 per cent for NT and - oh yes - around 1.5 per cent for Win 3.11, and you can see that Microsoft's hold on the OS market is scarcely being challenged (Linux 2.1 per cent, says IDC). But Win98's failure to hit the spot entirely must worry Microsoft to some extent. The operating system is to a great extent just a clean-up of Windows 95, with the addition of a couple of bells and whistles, the most notable being the integrated browser. If you imagined a situation where Microsoft was able to just switch over production from 95 to 98 (Microsoft has repeatedly tired to imagine this sort of thing, but failed to win the OEMs over) then annualised the monthly Win98 shipments, you'd get 36 million, which of course is nowhere near the actual 1998 shipments of both flavours of Win9x. Corporate customers are usually reluctant to switch over operating systems quickly, because of support issues. The two operating systems are however so similar that this oughtn't to have been a major problem. Is it therefore the case that the integrated browser is a problem? IDC's numbers may be detecting a certain amount of resistance to Microsoft's integration policies, and although the shorter shipping time for Win98 will have distorted the data to some extent, the outfit says that the trend has continued in 1999 - Windows 95 lives, evidently. ®

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