Windows is taking the server OS market by storm - and Linux has no hope of catching it, according to market researcher IDC.

Its latest quarterly server survey found that income from sales of Microsoft Windows servers even matched enterprise Unix server revenues.

Linux servers posted their 11th consecutive quarter of double-digit growth, with year-over-year revenue growth of 35.2 per cent and unit shipments up 31.1 per cent. Enterprises are continuing to expand the role of data centre-based Linux servers into an ever-broadening array of workloads with both commercial and technical workloads.

However, IDC also reported that Microsoft Windows servers also showed strong growth, as revenues and unit shipments grew 12.3 per cent and 10.7 per cent respectively, year over year - from a much larger installed base than that of Linux. Significantly, quarterly revenue of $4.2 billion for Windows servers represented 34.4 per cent of overall quarterly factory revenue, pulling even with quarterly revenue in the Unix server market.

Windows Server 2003, DataCenter Server, and Windows Server 2003, Enterprise Edition are all selling well, according to IDC's enterprise group chief Jean S Bozman.

Bozman also said that she could not see Linux overtaking either Windows or Unix in the foreseeable future, mainly because Linux is starting from such a small base. As a result, she could not project out far enough to see Linux overtaking either of the other two main OSes.

So if IDC is to be believed, the world's favourite open source OS is destined to remain a niche product serving Web pages for the time being, while Microsoft makes hay with its core product. It has been a long time since this reporter was able to ask Microsoft representatives if they still believe that Microsoft will ever succeed in the enterprise. It looks like it now has.