Evans Data said Tuesday that North American software developers are slowly but steadily turning away from Windows in favor of other platforms.
"It’s clear that a shift away from Windows began about two years ago, and the data show that this migration is now accelerating," said John Andrews, president of Evans Data, a market research firm that watches programming trends.
The claim is likely to be disputed in some quarters. Evans Data survey participants self-select to participate on the questionnaires sent out each six months, and Microsoft spokesmen in the past have questioned how scientific the sample is.
Nevertheless, Andrews said his firm has been tracking where North American developers invest most of their time and effort for eight years and their interest in Windows peaked in 2004. That year, they devoted 76% of their efforts to the Windows platform, both server and desktop versions.
In a two-month survey of 440 developers completed June 30, Evans found that 64.8% were targeting Windows, down from the 70% to 74% level that the Microsoft platform recorded in the 2006 surveys.
Andrews predicted that the decline in Windows programming is slow but is likely to continue to register another drop to 63% next year. "An erosion of 3% to 5% of Windows total market share per year starts to take its toll," if it gets entrenched as a long-term trend, Evans said in an interview.
Various platforms are commanding more developer time and attention, including the Apple Macintosh, Andrews said, without providing figures. The Macintosh barely shows up in the survey, compared with Windows.
The platform that is showing the largest measurable increase is Linux, moving from 8.8% of developer effort last year to 11.8% this year, a gain of 34%.
Unlike Windows, Linux’s market share is almost exclusively in server programming. Few developers are working on Linux client programs, Andrews said. Growth is also occurring in "niche operating systems for nontraditional client devices," such as Symbian for cell phones or Research In Motion’s proprietary system for the BlackBerry handheld device.