Microsoft to Buy PlaceWare

In tandem with the acquisition, Microsoft announced it has formed a new business unit.

Microsoft Corp. announced Tuesday that it has entered into an agreement to acquire privately-held Web conferencing service provider PlaceWare Inc.

Terms of the deal, which is expected to close this quarter, were not disclosed.

In tandem with the acquisition, Microsoft announced today that it has formed a new business unit, the Real Time Collaboration Group. Former Stanford University professor Anoop Gupta, a senior researcher in Microsoft Researchs Collaboration and Multimedia Group, will head the new business unit. Gupta will report to Jeff Raikes, group vice president of Productivity and Business Services at Microsoft.

PlaceWare will join this group, which will bring together Microsofts various collaboration initiatives. This is the second iteration of a real-time collaboration group at Microsoft, which first formed such a group when it acquired Flash Communications in 1998. Francis DeSouza, founder and CEO of Flash, headed up the group then, which encompassed the Exchange 2000 IM server, the Exchange Chat Server, the Exchange Conferencing Server and NetMeeting.

DeSouza left Microsoft in 2001 to form instant messaging management software developer IMLogic Inc., and Microsoft has since separated Exchange from the rest of its collaboration business.

"This acquisition complements our business and is an important step forward in our strategy to expand our information worker solutions base," said Raikes, in a statement. "We look forward to merging our strengths to effectively deliver new real-time collaboration capabilities and solutions for this emerging and expanding online conferencing market."