Server sales have continued to rise for the third quarter in a row as companies loosen their belts, figures from IDC show.

Globally, factory sales of servers have increased 11.4 percent in the fourth quarter of 2003, compared with the same period the year before, to $13.7 billion (£7.39bn).

And for the first time since 2001, server sales have grown in all major categories: volume servers (priced less than $25,000) to mid-range enterprise servers ($25,000 to $499,999) and high-end servers ($500,000 and more).

Sales of Linux servers rose 63.1 percent to $960 million (£518m) in the fourth quarter compared to the year before, with unit shipments up 52.5 percent year-on-year.

Windows servers were up 16.1 percent year-on-year, equating to $3.9 billion (£2.1bn) - representing 31.7 percent of the market.

Unix servers were up just 0.8 per cent but accounted for $5.1 billion (£2.75bn) and was the first year-on-year growth in 11 quarters, according to IDC.

Total server revenue in 2003 was up 3.2 percent to $45.7 billion (£24.6bn).

IBM maintained its leading position with a 37.9 percent market revenue share, up 17.7 percent year-on-year. Then HP with 25.8 percent share, Sun with 10.4 percent, and Dell with 8.6 percent. Fujitsu Siemens came fifth with 5.4 percent, although with a 31.3 percent growth in revenue.