Microsoft Windows NT Server outsold Novell NetWare server operating system to new users in 1996, though NetWare still has a larger share of sales among all users, according to a study by International Data Corp.
Sales of new licenses for NT Server grew by about 85 percent in 1996, outselling new units of NetWare 4.x by more than two times, according to IDC. A breakdown in terms of revenue was not available.
However, taking into account upgrade sales to existing customers, Novell is still the network operating system leader, with a 37% share of total worldwide network operating systems licenses sold in 1996, down from 41% in 1995, according to IDC. NT's total market share of server licenses sold was 27%, up from 17% in 1995.
IDC bases its numbers mainly on reports from vendors, though it cross-checks the vendor figures against surveys of users. Both Novell and Microsoft are major customers of IDC's market research reports and services.
In a press release issued last week, Microsoft quoted a subset of the IDC figures, mentioning sales to new users but leaving out the figures regarding upgrades to existing customers.
Novell countered with its own press release, also citing IDC figures. However, Novell cited figures relating to total sales of NetWare licenses, including upgrades.
However, the trend in favor of Microsoft among new users is undeniable, say IDC analysts.
"Novell still has the leading market share though Microsoft has obviously gained a lot," says Lee Doyle, vice president at IDC. "It is probably inevitable that they [Microsoft] will take the leadership in terms of absolute market share, but that doesn't mean they'll have the same dominance in servers as they have on the client side," Doyle says.
If Novell continues to ship good products it is likely it will hold on to the majority of its current customer base, Doyle says. "But Novell needs to be a significant player in the Internet; they have some good products but not the visibility, even though they have the most widely deployed directory of anyone out there."
The appointment last week of Eric Schmidt as Novell chairman and CEO was a good move in this respect, said Doyle. As chief technology officer for Sun Microsystems and a major industry figure in efforts to market Java, Schmidt gained a very high profile in the Internet community, Doyle says.
IDC can be reached on the World Wide Web at http://www.idcresearch.com/.