A recent survey of more than 500 Microsoft Small Business Specialist partners in five major IT markets found that they expect some 63 percent of their small and midsized business (SMB) customers to spend more on IT this year than last year.
That's a 38 percentage point jump from 25 percent planning to increase spending in a similar study performed for Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) last year.
Despite the sluggish global economic recovery, the "2010 Microsoft SMB/Partner Insight Report" gives Microsoft some reasons for optimism in the SMB space.
"SMBs are back in spending mode," Birger Steen, vice president of Microsoft's small and medium business and distribution, told InternetNews.com. "The most salient fact here is, whereas last year, one in four were increasing spending, this year it's six out of ten," Steen added.
Additionally, 44 percent of Microsoft's SMB Specialist partners surveyed in the poll, which focused on markets in the U.S., U.K., Canada, India and Brazil, predicted that Windows 7's growing popularity will drive new server deployments.
"The top market we've seen, bar none, has been investments in operating system upgrades," Steen said. "An OS refresh is a high priority for SMBs."
No surprise then that server virtualization tops the list of "best cost saving technologies" in Brazil, the U.K., and Canada -- barely edged out by IT consolidation in the U.S. In India, however, software as a service out stripped virtualization by 37 percent to 17 percent, the survey found.
As for Microsoft's soon-to-debut Office 2010, SMB specialists forecast that 24 percent of their customers will make the transition to the latest version of the company's productivity applications by year end. Still, 68 percent will continue to run older versions of Office for the time being.
In addition, 74 percent of those polled see their customers increasing the number of remote workers on their payrolls, a significant change from 54 percent in 2009.
The survey was conducted by TNS Global Market Research on behalf of Microsoft.
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