British small biz falls out of love with Microsoft, heads to the Clouds

Remember all that Web 2.0 hype back in the day? Remember how some predicted an end to the monopoly of Microsoft in those basic applications like Word, Excel and others as these functions moved to the Cloud? Well it looks like that trend is well on its way now and especially in the UK.

According to a survey by Accredited Supplier, a B2B services marketplace, Microsoft is losing their grip on the UK small business market under increasing pressure from cloud computing and open source software.

In their poll of 1,400 Microsoft customers, all small businesses in the UK, they found that 13% of them intend to switch to Google Apps within 12 months while 22% are “undecided”. In other words a healthy number are either switching or probably poised to switch. Of the remaining, 36% were Not Switching and 29% were “Not aware” of Google Apps.

However, despite many remaining undecided about switching to Google Apps specifically, 62% would “prefer” or “strongly prefer” to have their business applications work through a browser, while the rest have no preference or plan to stick to desktop apps.

Of course, you could also surmise that businesses plan to switch to Microsoft-based cloud apps – but that seems unlikely since Microsoft still favours its desktop strategy.

In addition, an impressive 32% use Firefox as their default browser within their business. The remaining are: 58% Internet Explorer, 3% Safari, 2% Chrome, 2% Opera and 3% Other.

The launch of Windows 7 is also not looking like it will fair well in this market. Only 8% of small businesses plan to upgrade to Windows 7 within 12 months of release, while a whopping 62% said No Way Jose, and 30% were Unsure.

The poll makes for worrying reading for Microsoft, with only 8% of small businesses intent on upgrading their operating system with the release of Windows 7.

So the broad implications are that Microsoft is not fairing well in the march towards cloud computing, Internet Explorer is on the decline and Firefox on the rise. And 10% of Microsoft’s UK small business customers are actively considering making the switch to Google Apps.

It looks like Microsoft is going to have to do a lot more than just buy Yahoo! to get back in the game.