Microsoft is to spend $2 billion (€1.6bn; £1.2bn) a year in a bid to seize a substantial share of the global customer relationship management software market.

The technology titan on Monday released Microsoft CRM 1.2, its first worldwide customer management offering. The new product is an overhaul of the 1.0 version launched in the US at the beginning of this year, and is available in French, German, Portuguese, Spanish, Italian, Dutch and Danish as well as English.

CRM software has so far been marketed largely to big corporations. However, as the sector becomes saturated, software manufacturers are turning their attentions to small and medium-sized enterprises -- and it is this market the 1.2 version will target.

Microsoft plans to spend $12bn over six years on its customer management products after its 1.0 edition met hostile reviews. It has given the product a more European slant in part because of better growth prospects on the east side of the Atlantic. The change in emphasis also reflects the purchase of Denmark's Navision last year.

Global revenues from CRM software licences totalled $2.8bn last year, with $1bn coming from Europe.

Data sourced from: Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff