1996 was an unusually quiet year for Microsoft Corp, with no blockbuster product releases and, as a result, says market researcher Independent Data Corp, the worldwide packaged software market had a somewhat lackluster year, growing 11.9% to $105bn, compared to a 15.4% growth in 1995. Other factors which helped keep the growth rate down were a leveling off in sales of client-server software and widespread price reductions on mainframe software bundles. Despite the softness in mainframe software prices, IBM retained its position as the packaged software market leader with an 11.9% share worth $12.5bn, down 1% from 1995. Microsoft, however, is steadily catching up, boosting its market share to 9% during the year following revenue growth of 29.4%, while Computer Associates Inc, the third placed company, grew revenues by 34.6% to take third place with a 4.5% market share. IDC breaks the worldwide packaged software market into three categories – system-level software (worth $28.2bn), application development (worth $27.7bn) and applications and information access (worth $49bn). It says that it expects the worldwide packaged software application market to rediscover its form this year, generating growth of between 10% and 12% between now and 2001.