I was considering actual operating system market and what I think will happen within a couple of years or so. As far as I see there will be only three big OS players around:
-) Microsoft Windows
-) Sun Solaris 10 (just released release 10)
-) Novell Open Enterprise Server (coming with release 1.0 for early March 2005)
Red Hat, the biggest enteprise distro today could slowly disappear for a lot of reasons: they went unpopular after dismantle its free Red Hat Linux and replacing it after some months with Red Hat Desktop (Fedora project seems a little solution at my eyes), they actually cannot count on strong and enterprise-ready directory services like Microsoft OS (with Active Directory) and Novell OS (with Netware), its support and maintenance costs are high for a lot of SMB companies.
Other good OSes like FreeBSD or MacOS X have not enough market presence to compete with these bigs.
Well, both Solaris and Novell are going (or already did) to offer some virtualization technologies: Solaris 10 offers the new Containers technology and Open Enteprise Server will probably going to offer the popular XEN virtualization product.
What Microsoft will do to compete on this segment? IMHO Offering a refreshed Virtual Server release won’t be enough. Microsoft should move on integrating a software partitioning product like SWSoft Virtuozzo and offering it as a standard operating system feature.
At this time nothing is known about virtualization plans for next Windows release, codename Longhorn, but I would start thinking Microsoft has something special to show us for that timeframe.
Obviously it’s just a speculation.