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Microsoft 'ecosystem' is biggest, survey says

The software giant commissioned IDC to survey the economic impact of IT and Microsoft in 82 countries.

In the IT industry, Microsoft and its "ecosystem" of parters are big--on the order of 40 percent of the market. And if any policy makers around the world doubted its influence, it now has the data to prove it.

The software giant commissioned research company IDC to survey 82 countries and measure the economic impact of the IT industry, and Microsoft specifically.

Overall, the results were not surprising, according to , chief research and strategy officer at Microsoft. IT contributes to economic growth and job growth more than other industries, according to the IDC study.

The study managed to quantify the Microsoft business universe. There are about 14 million people working at companies that touch Microsoft software in some way, either as hardware distributors, services companies, or software developers.

That number represents about 42 percent of the overall IT market, according to the data. Mundie expects that number to stay consistent in the coming years.

For policymakers, the survey offers some lessons on how to promote economic development by encouraging an IT industry, said Mundie who worked several years on government policy in China, India and other countries.

Governments looking to nurture IT should not only seek to attract large, established IT providers to the countries, but also the smaller companies that revolve around those giants, Mundie said.

"People tend to look at IT in a somewhat naive way. If the big guys are there--Microsoft, IBM, Oracle, the names you know--they think that everything will be good. That's not the case," Mundie said.

"If you don't have companies on the ground like hardware manufacturers, services companies supporting them, then the big guys can't carry it by themselves," he said.

In the case of Microsoft, for every dollar it earns, partners earn just under eight dollars.

Other policies, such as intellectual property reform and investments in networking infrastructure, are also important, he said.

The IDC study--which Microsoft has been commissioning in different forms for the past five years--also forecasts positive growth for the IT industry and workers, with developing countries leading the way.

In the next four years, they were be an additional 7 million jobs added in IT with about 60 percent of those in software. The fastest-growing country for IT jobs is China with the United States behind it, Mundie said.