Steve Ballmer It looks like 2010 will be another tough year for Microsoft, but less traumatic than 2009. Windows 7 will be a hit with business users, but Office 2010 still has a lot of convincing to do. Like Windows XP, Office 2007 is proving to be long-lived and hard to displace.

Here are some more Microsoft-related predictions for 2010:

It feels like Microsoft ignores companies with, say, 200 employees or less. This is something we've got used to, and it won't change next year.

Microsoft's various cloud projects are not yet aimed at small business, which provides an opening for Google and everyone else. I wouldn't want to live in Google Apps all the time, but the price is right and many small businesses - start-ups, especially - are extremely cost-sensitive. It's easy to see a small business running on Google Apps with a few copies of Office around for use when needed.

Low-cost laptops become more powerful in 2010. Netbooks don't really cut it for business users, but the low prices drive sales. Microsoft will lower some of the barriers it has created to prevent manufacturers from selling netbooks that are really useful (more memory, better processors and so on).

Desktop Linux is still not attractive to small business in 2010, but do expect more servers running open source software. Just as an aside, I like Microsoft's server products for small businesses.

Scattered business users will adopt Google Chrome OS-based machines late in 2010, but only as individual purchases. Microsoft needs to respond to Chrome and I'd like to see Internet Explorer OS introduced.

Office 2010 won't be a big success for small-business customers. This may change, but if you're running Office 2007, I'm not sure you need to upgrade to Office 2010. It's nice if you can afford it, but not a must-have.

Windows 7 will sell many computers during 2010. The new operating system is more than just a Vista replacement; it's good enough to make a Mac user (like me) think about switching back to Windows. Most people I've talked to think it's Microsoft's best OS since Windows 2000 Professional. Small business should look toward standardising on the new OS.

Virtualisation will play a larger role in small business computing in 2010, but it won't be Microsoft these customers purchase. But, perhaps should be if they are running Microsoft servers.

What are your Microsoft predictions for 2010?

See also:

Microsoft Office 2010 FAQs: what you need to know

Microsoft Office 2010: The five best bits

Opinion: How do you solve a problem like MS Office?

Windows 7: How happy are early adopters?

FAQs: how to upgrade to Windows 7

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