Spiceworks, the free network management software company, is set to release the latest version of its eponymous software, offering a range of new features to users in the small-to-medium business market.

The new features in version 2 include Windows Event logging, historical trend analysis, one-click Ping and TraceRoute ability, and a range of collaborative features to help build the Spiceworks community.

The software, which is funded by advertising, has also reached 200,000 users said Jay Hallberg, Spiceworks' vice president of product management. He also said take-up has doubled in the past six months and the company now has about five percent of the SMB market.

Hallberg confirmed that the community aspect was an important part of the software. "We're introducing features like the ability to post reviews, a great help to those users who want to know something about a product."

He added that company research had indicated that a major part of IT managers' jobs was researching new products and that also, users trusted fellow Spiceworks users above other community sites. The company is also looking to introduce links to resellers of products although Hallberg admitted that this was at an early stage just now.

Hallberg said that the new software should be out by the end of the week. "We're on our final beta, just a few tweaks and we're ready to release."

The arrival of free software such as Spiceworks has already shaken up the market, claimed Hallberg. He said that many other companies in the SMB space are amending their business plans as they found it hard to cope with a company offering so many features for free. He added that the larger players, such as IBM and HP, were content to leave the SMB market to the niche players.

According to Hallberg, users could expect the next new version of the software to be launched in about four months' time.

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