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Ted Smith

Special to ZDNet

Polarized interest in Microsoft solutions found among surveyed enterprises, but favorable responses dominated unfavorable at a ratio of two to one.

Through ZDNet’s enhanced IT Priorities research program not only do we have a view into IT initiatives planned for 2005, we are also tracking the specific vendors being considered for these projects, as well as those that are not making the cut.

For our first comprehensive analysis of vendor preference, we decided to take a step back and look across all the technologies to see which vendor is most preferred overall—which one has the greatest breadth of market mindshare.

Our current IT Priorities vendor dataset contains the opinions of over 800 enterprises in the US. These data have been coded against the ZDNet taxonomy, which contains 80 technology subcategories ranging from application interface tools to wireless security. When we looked across all the data we found that Microsoft has the broadest appeal as a solution provider—being selected by at least one IT decision maker in 40 of the 80 subcategories (50% of subcategories). The next most frequently named vendor was IBM, which was preferred in 22 categories (28%). Microsoft’s strongest showing was in project plans for directory services, Web services, servers, and of course client operating systems.

The total magnitude of interest in Microsoft is also impressive—15%, or 127 of the 824 responses, specifically named a preference for a Microsoft solution. The next most-named vendor was Cisco, with 7% of the total projects likely to fall to them. However, Cisco’s story is one of tremendous concentration in a few very popular networking categories such as IP telephony and wireless LANs, where they completely dominate the list of preferred vendors.

To balance out our preliminary analysis, we looked at the vendors currently viewed as “unfavorable” solution providers for these 2005 projects. Interestingly, Microsoft is mentioned most often as a vendor not being considered, specifically being avoided in 32 of the 80 technology subcategories (40% of all categories) and the company also received the highest number of “not considering” votes—6% (54 out of 824 responses).

Borrowing a simple trick from the recent political data storm, we compared the ratio of favorable to unfavorable indications in our dataset. Here again, Microsoft “earns” the top spot—garnering about twice the number of favorable indications to unfavorable ones. Coupled with the distinction of winning the broadest consideration amongst all vendors across these planned initiatives, Microsoft is shaping up to be a big winner in 2005.