The Super Windows That...Couldn't


One of the more bizarre accusations flung by Microsoft at GNU/Linux over the years is that it doesn't scale. This is part of a larger campaign to portray it as a kind of β€œtoy” operating system – fine for low-end stuff, but nothing you'd want to run your enterprise on.

Sadly, that narrative has been rather undermined by the independent Top500 supercomputing sites ranking. Five years ago, the GNU/Linux family ran 36.80% of the top 500 supercomputers; worse, Windows ran on precisely one supercomputer.

Obviously, this was somewhat embarrassing for the company, which has poured huge sums into beefing up its Windows HPC operating system for use on supercomputers.

And all that money has produced some stunning results. Compared to five years ago, Windows has increased its share of the top 500 supercomputing site by a staggering 400% - that's right, it's gone from one machine, to five - 1%. Meanwhile, GNU/Linux has grown less impressively: it's only increased its share of the market by 51% in absolute terms, growing from 36.8% to 87.8%.

So, time for GNU/Linux to watch out for this super Seattle hotshot? Well, maybe not. It's true that Microsoft notched up five machines in the latest rankings – but it achieved that in the previous table.

And a year ago, it had no less than seven machines in the top 500: in other words the situation has worsened recently. For comparison, in the last five months GNU/Linux managed an increase of 2.4% in absolute terms. Now, what was that about it not scaling...?

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