Microsoft overtook PalmSource in the third quarter as the world's biggest operating system for handheld computers, a survey showed on Friday.
Microsoft's Windows operating system (accounted for 48.1 percent of worldwide shipments of personal digital assistants, up from 41.2 percent in year-ago period, according to July-September statistics from research group Gartner.
Palm's share dropped to 29.8 percent in the third quarter of 2004 from 46.9 percent in the same period last year. Canada's Research In Motion, which produces the hardware and software for its popular Blackberry wireless e-mail devices, was a strong third, quadrupling its global market share in twelve months to 19.8 percent from 4.9 percent.
Worldwide shipments of personal digital assistants increased 13.6 percent to 2.86 million units.
"The robust Microsoft Windows CE market has been driven in part by the wide choice of vendors," said Gartner analyst Todd Kort. "Business customers tend to steer clear of markets dominated by a single supplier, which is where the Palm OS market stands today," he said. Hewlett-Packard and Dell are the biggest producers of Microsoft-based handheld computers. PalmOne produces the Palm-based devices.
Linux remained a distant fourth and lost market share as it is running on only 0.9 percent of handheld computers, down from 1.9 percent a year ago.
The handheld computer market is competing with the faster growing smartphone market, which is expected to double to 20 million units this year. Symbian provides the dominant software in that market segment of advanced mobile phones which can run computer-like applications like navigation software and email.