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Netcraft survey is mixed bag for MS

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Application security programs and practises

Three months after its release, Windows Server 2003 is showing strong growth in the hosting market and even picking up a limited number of Linux converts. This gain comes even as Microsoft's overall market share in the Web server market declined.

According to Netcraft's latest statistics, published yesterday, the number of active Windows Server 2003 sites now stands at 88,400 and the number of host names running Win Server 2003 is around 150,000.

Netcraft compared the sites which are now hosted on Windows 2003 with their operating system in December 2002. This showed that over 42 per cent of these are new sites, 43 per cent to be upgrades from other Windows platforms (mainly Windows 2000), five per cent (8,000) to be migrations from Linux and one per cent migrations from other operating systems.

Go ahead punk, (don't) make my day

Netcraft's Mike Prettejohn told us he was surprised at the number of Linux sites switching. Defectors include sites run on behalf of a variety of organisations, from smaller firms using shared hosting providers, to larger concerns - like gun manufacturer Colt.

Colt has had to reboot its Web site a significant number of times since shifting to Windows Server 2003, Prettejohn notes (graph).

The bigger picture

Looking at Netcraft's full Web Server survey (which looks at the Web server software used by more than 42 million sites) makes less pleasant reading for Microsoft executives.

Microsoft share dipped 0.9 percentage points to 25.95 per cent in figures that show almost 11 million Web sites run Microsoft's Web server software. Apache remains the world's favourite web server with a share of 63.7 per cent or 27 million sites, up 0.56 percentage points on last month.

Zeus snuck into third place with 767,000 sites (or a share of 1.81 per cent) edging out SunONE with 675,000 sites, up more than 250,000 from June.

SunONE's significant increase of sites is primarily attributable to Network Solutions' migrating around a quarter of a million parked sites back to a Solaris platform, Netcraft explains.

So we see the actions of a handful of hosting providers can distort the figures when only a small sample of sites are considered in isolation. That's why its best not to read too much into the move by some hosting providers from Linux to Windows Server 2003.

Welcome though this might be for Redmond staffers (who'll doubtless spin it as signs of success the $399 Server 2003, Web Edition) such defections represent only a drop in the ocean.

On the other hand...

But that's not the whole story either. Looking at active sites only - Microsoft's share of the market grew by 0.24 percentage point this months, largely at the expense of Apache. Netcraft's survey shows 4.68 million active sites are using Microsoft Web server software compared to 13.3 million active sites using Apache.

It's a slightly confusing picture. Only one thing is clear - the rise and rise of Intel-based systems in the Web server market.

Although nearly all of the public focus is geared around advocacy of Linux and Windows, Netcraft reports nearly two million active sites running FreeBSD. ®

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