The MSLinux Index

One interesting measure of Linux's popularity is how many times Microsoft itself mentions Linux on its web site, and how many Microsoft products ship with support for Linux.

Here are the searches I ran, and a few highlights of the results. I'll try to repeat this periodically to see how MS's awareness of Linux evolves.

Via Altavista

I searched Microsoft for Linux via Altavista on several dates; here are the number of hits for each date:
Date Hits at Hits at *
31 July 199827
16 Aug 1998 64
13 Feb 1999 166
21 Aug 1999 331463
13 Dec 1999 4591246
19 Jan 2000 5381449
19 Feb 2000 5591174
24 Mar 2000 5591269
6 May 2000 477456
By this crude measure, Linux's popularity as of 13 Dec 1999 is 17 times what it was just 18 months before, which works out to about 500% annual growth. As of 19 Jan 2000, the monthly growth seems to be about 16%, which is also around 500 - 600% annual growth.

(Note: for a few weeks in October 1999, Altavista's hit counts for this search dropped by a factor of two; by October 18th, they were back up to the figures listed for 21 August. Sounds like they purged their database, then rebuilt it. Also note that the growth is not continuous; the counts seem to increase about once per quarter. Don't know what caused the drop in * hits on 19 Feb 2000. Note that * hits are less than hits in May 2000, which is impossible; guess one can't really trust those hit counts.)

By 2003, Altavista had decayed to such an extent that it is no longer useful for this search.

Via Google

Date Hits at *
15 June 2003About 5250
6 August 2006About 22,100

By this crude measure, Linux popularity has climbed 60% per year in the three years 2003-2006.

Among the top hits in 2003 were Resources for Competing with Linux and Interoperability - Linux (which was chiefly about how to migrate Linux systems to Windows; guess that's their idea of interoperability :-)

The top four hits in 2006 were

  1. How to remove Linux and Install Windows XP
  2. Linux Guest Support for Virtual Server 2005 R2
  3. Get the Facts Home (Microsoft's list of sponsored research papers purporting to show that Windows is better than Linux)
  4. Q&A: The Linux/Open Source Software Lab on Microsoft's Redmond Campus
Looks like Microsoft realises they have to support Linux, but they don't like it yet.


I searched for Linux via on several dates; here are the number of hits for each date:
Date whole siteProductsDeveloper ResourcesIT ResourcesTraining and CertificationSupport/Knowledgebase
31 Jul 1998> 50 47 38
21 Aug 1999> 50 > 50 43 25 1
13 Dec 1999> 100 47 67 26 1
19 Jan 2000> 100 39 73 28 1
19 Feb 2000> 100 39 85 27 1
24 Mar 2000> 100 61 87 30 1 17
5 May 2000> 100 64 96 40 0 22
15 June 20030 0 0 0 0 0
6 Aug 2006 16,213 n/a 1052 1510 217 2,167
Judging by the "developer resources" column, Linux is 27 times more popular in 2006 than it was in 1998; that's a 51% annual rate of growth. This corelates well with the 60% annual rate of growth measured over 2003-2006 via Google above.

(The Microsoft search page used to limit you to 50 or 100, hence the > entries.) It's interesting to note that as of May 2000, developer resource references to linux are growing, while product references to linux are shrinking.

It appears that as of June 2003, Microsoft blacklisted the term "linux" from their search engine, but reversed this policy some time before 2006.


Searching for Linux via yields the following number of hits:
21 Aug 19997
13 Dec 199912
19 Jan 200012
19 Feb 200014

Via Microsoft User Group search

Searching for Microsoft user groups that mention "Unix (Linux, Solaris, etc" as a platform:
10 Oct 2000 229 out of 1009

Highlights of search results

31 July 1998

Linux Support for Microsoft Products:

At the moment, there appear to be two Microsoft products that run on Linux: NetShow and the FrontPage extensions.

13 Feb 1999

Support for Linux by Microsoft products appears unchanged since July. e.g. although has claimed for the last ten months that "The Microsoft Media Player for UNIX will be available in a few weeks", no update has been posted there.

COM for Linux still appears to be a half-hearted attempt. mentions that, although support for transactions is built into COM on Windows, there is no support for transactions in the various ports of COM to Linux:

Q. Can a transaction on Windows NT station be carried to UNIX?
A. ... The advantage of using MTS is that the COM method call and transaction coordination is accomplished implicitly. They are one and the same step. Currently, using DCOM on UNIX the coordination of the DCOM call and the transaction is not implicit and must be handled on a programming level.
This shows that fairly important parts of COM are missing under non-Windows platforms.

The future of COM under Unix looks doubtful. According to, Microsoft is moving to roll MTS (Transaction Services) into the next version of DCOM, called COM+, but has no intention of ever supporting COM+ under Unix.

21 Aug 1999

Support appears to have been dropped for NetShow/Windows Media on Unix. The pages that used to let you download it for Unix now either don't work, or point to pages listing downloads for Windows platforms. That leaves the Front Page Extensions as the only Microsoft product that runs on Linux.

The COM+ whitepapers have moved to It looks like COM+ is now tied tightly to Windows 2000.

Other highlights:

October 5th, 1999

The NT Server 4.0 home page prominently features the link
Myth America: The Facts About Linux and Windows NT
Arm yourself with the truth about five myths the Linux community loves to perpetuate: Performance, reliability, TCO, security, desktop suitability. Facts are so much more reliable than myths.
This seems to indicate they consider Linux their most important competitor at the moment.

The Register has a few interesting things to say about the Gartner Group reports referenced in Microsoft's "Linux Myths" page.


I also searched Microsoft for the word "Ethics". You can read about the results in my page on corporate ethics.

Related Sites

Copyright 1999, 2000, 2003, 2006 Dan Kegel
Last updated: 19 Aug 2006
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