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Sales of Windows-based servers has pulled even with those of Unix-based boxes for the first time ever, according to first quarter 2005 sales figures from researcher IDC.

In an overall up server market, IDC counted $4.2bn worth of Microsoft Windows server sales on the back of 12 percent growth. Total Unix sales also hit $4.2bn in the period, IDC said, on 3 per cent revenue growth. Those totals left Microsoft and Unix systems holding 35 per cent of the server market each.

"Both platforms have a rich inventory of ISV applications, but Unix servers have traditionally gained more revenue from sales in the midrange enterprise and high-end enterprise server segments, based on their ability to support scalable workloads and high RAS levels for mission-critical-workloads," said Jean Bozman, an analyst at IDC. "The equal level of spending in both segments this quarter showed that Windows servers are gaining traction in the enterprise server space with a combination of deeper investment and richer configurations."

Linux server sales continued to show the strongest growth at 35.2 per cent and accounted for $1.2bn in sales. Linux servers made up 10 per cent of total sales in the quarter.

IDC's first quarter vendor rankingsand overall sales ended up very close to those of rival firm Gartner, which also published results last week. Both companies pegged IBM as the server revenue leader and HP as the server shipments leader.

Beyond the Windows server achievement, little of note happened in the first quarter. IDC had overall server sales increasing a solid 5 per cent to $12.1bn. Blade servers continued to be one of the hotter items - excuse the pun - as revenue increased 106 per cent year-over-year in this segment. Blade servers accounted for $409m in sales with IBM taking 39 per cent of that total and HP taking 35 per cent, IDC said.

"While the market is not accelerating at the same pace that it did in 2004, IT spending remained strong in the first quarter as customers continued to invest in new infrastructure,” said Matt Eastwood, an analyst at IDC. “Although scale-out computing continues to gain favor with customers for an increasing variety of workloads, increased spending for midrange enterprise systems indicates that other form factors continue to be attractive for large, monolithic applications and for consolidation workloads." ®

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