Optimistic outlook from Dell, Intel may signal rebound

Signs that things may be improving in tech sector

Like the rest of the economy, the tech sector has been in the doldrums for well over a year now. But there are signs that things may be improving. Here are five recent developments that show a tech recovery may be under way:

Intel raises its sales forecast. The world's largest chipmaker is reporting stronger-than-expected demand for its processors and chipsets. And while Intel is careful to point out that the global economy is still frail, its positive guidance is encouraging.

Market-research firm Gartner says that worldwide consumer demand for computers, mobile phones, and other electronic gadgets is on the upswing. It's feasible that many folks who've put off hardware upgrades are finally deciding it's safe to spend again.

Dell, despite reporting a drop in net income and revenue for its second fiscal quarter, is expecting an increase in global IT spending in the 2nd half of 2009.

It's a given that the launch of Windows 7 will help Microsoft's bottom line. But the new OS could also spur businesses to upgrade their aging fleets of PCs, many of which still run Windows XP. End result: A boost in hardware sales for PC makers.

Microsoft Office 2010 is coming next year, and Redmond is promising plenty of Web-based enhancements. If the productivity suite lives up to its hype, longtime users may shell out for the upgrade. Then again, the prolonged recession may have convinced many to ditch Microsoft's bloated software for something cheaper and slimmer like Google Docs. However, since Microsoft will offer a free Web version of MS Office, this battle is far from over.

The federal government plans to dole out $7.2 billion for new broadband projects across the United States. The stimulus program, designed to encourage growth of high-speed Internet across the US nation, may be a boon to rural communities seeking to build fiber-optic or other broadband networks. Thus far, the nation's largest Net providers, including AT&T, Comcast, and Time Warner, have said they don't want the stimulus cash. But that doesn't matter. Others will take the money.

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