Microsoft's entry into the HPC market—Windows Compute Cluster Server 2003—hasn't even been out a year, so the fact that it's not currently represented in the Top 500 Supercomputers list can't really be held against it too much. Microsoft appears serious about HPC, and a new survey that they commissioned of oil and gas industry professionals shows that the company is planning to move into this new market the same way that they moved into the server room: by starting at users' desktops and working up from there.
The survey, which was carried out by the Gelb Consulting Group on 104 screened professionals from the oil and gas industry, questioned respondents about what kind of computing power they have available to them, whether they think that power is adequate, their use for more power, which operating systems they use the most, what applications they use, and so on.
There were some interesting results for HPC buried in the survey, and I'll get to those in a moment, but from the perspective of someone who's watching to see how Microsoft will tackle a UNIX stronghold, it was telling to notice how the company presented the results.
Microsoft found, perhaps unsurprisingly, that most of the engineers, scientists, academics, consultants, contractors, and others in the sample spend the vast majority of their time on a Windows desktop box outfitted with Microsoft Office. Excel, PowerPoint, and Word are the main tools of choice for the respondents, augmented by an array of unidentified third-party and/or in-house software packages.