Microsoft's NT operating system has over-taken Unix in the workstation market for the first time, according to figures from research company IDC.
IDC estimated that 1.3 million copies of NT were shipped during 1997, an increase of over 80 per cent on the previous year, compared with 666,000 for Unix, a decline of seven per cent.
In 1996, sales of both operating systems were even, but now NT has snatched market share in what was Unix territory.
John Pattenden, product marketing manager at Sequent - which offers both Unix and NT - said: 'Unix used to dominate in technical areas and NT in the commercial area, but the parameters have merged as NT has improved in functionality and Intel processors are faster with more capability.
There is greater availability of applications.'
Pattenden claimed NT's popularity will continue to grow. 'NT will be successful, driven on a wave of religious fervour. The migration to NT is universal as the dividing line between NT and Unix becomes more flexible.'
Dave Russell, product marketing manager at Tandem, which also offers both operating systems, supported Pattenden's view.
'NT has taken a lot of business from Unix. In the enterprise sector it was print and file share systems, but it has grown up into application areas. It's a similar story on the desktop - in the past year, high-end Intel-based workstations running NT have taken over from Unix-based stations.'
One reason for NT workstations' growing popularity is that at an average of $5,000, they sell at roughly one-third of the average price of a Unix machine.
This accounts for the fact that Unix machines still commanded significantly higher revenues, according to the survey - $11.2 billion, compared with $3.1 billion.
Infrastructure provider says international sales now make up 51 per cent of its revenue
Suzanne Chappell of TMS plans sailing venture after selling Oxfordshire-based TMS to acquisitive Chess
Withdrawal of credit insurance by some providers a 'reflection' of current challenge facing IT sector, according to MD Steve Soper
SMART's UK managing director joins Lenovo to boost SMB business