Plus: CERT details latest Windows hole; Gigabit Ethernet port shipments up; IT budgets could increase; Qwest to buy frame, ATM assets from Touch America; Japan Airlines, Boeing, sign deal on in-flight 'Net system.First Microsoft joined the Web conferencing fray with its\u00a0purchase of service provider PlaceWare. Now\u00a0Cisco\u00a0is getting into the business from a different angle with its proposed $80 million purchase of Latitude Communications, which makes MeetingPlace, a premises-based server, audio bridge and Web conferencing server. Cisco is placing a bet that more customers will move their conferencing applications from an external provider to a server that sits behind the corporate firewall, offering greater security and a potential per-minute-charge cost savings. MeetingPlace already works with Cisco's CallManager and IP phones, and lets users manage meetings from the phone's display.The CERT Coordination Center at Carnegie Mellon University issued an advisory last week that calls attention to\u00a0a recently disclosed security hole in Windows 2000 and Windows XP\u00a0operating systems. The buffer-overrun vulnerability in the Workstation Service, a Windows component, is easily exploited by an Internet worm and would let malicious hackers remotely attack and compromise vulnerable systems, CERT said. Microsoft released a "critical" security bulletin,\u00a0MS03-049, and a software patch for the Workstation Service vulnerability and encouraged all customers to download and install the patch immediately.The service is turned on by default in Win 2000 and XP systems and lets computers on a network connect to file servers and network printers, Microsoft said.The CERT Advisory, CA-2003-28, echoes Microsoft's recommendation that users apply the patch immediately and encourages organizations to block ports 138, 139 and 445.Worldwide Gigabit Ethernet switch port shipments increased by almost a million ports in the third quarter, according to recent research from Dell'Oro Group. Shipments in copper-based Gigabit Ethernet ports helped the market as a whole grow 38% from the second quarter, the research firm said. Almost all the market growth was attributed to copper Gigabit shipments, as vendors push fixed-configuration and chassis switches with high densities of 10\/100\/1000M bit\/sec ports.The increasing use of copper Gigabit Ethernet network interface cards in servers and the beginnings of a desktop migration to 10\/100\/1000 are factors in higher user demand for the switch ports.Dell'Oro lists the top companies in the worldwide Gigabit Ethernet market last quarter, in order of most ports shipped, as: Cisco, 3Com, HP, Nortel and Netgear.Recent research shows a year-end increase in spending that might presage a better year for IT budgets in 2004. While IT executives expect their budgets to increase only by about 2% next year, a "surprising last-minute" increase in 2003 tech spending could propel more spending in 2004, according to Goldman Sachs' November IT spending survey. Separate research published by Forrester Research says despite conservative estimates from IT buyers that their budgets will increase only about 1.7%, IT spending in 2004 eventually will catch up with the economy and increase by 4% next year.Qwest last week said it would purchase frame relay and ATM assets from Touch America, a bankrupt service provider Qwest has been in litigation with. Qwest also said it would purchase from service provider 360networks certain assets that help extend the Qwest nationwide high-speed data network. 360networks acquired nearly all the assets of Touch America shortly after Touch America filed for bankruptcy in June. The agreement resolves all outstanding disputes between Qwest, Touch America and 360networks regarding these assets, Qwest says.The deals also now let Qwest offer ATM and frame relay data services to customers within its 14-state region. Qwest recently was granted approval to offer long-distance network services within its region, and many of these customers already use Qwest frame relay and ATM services outside of its region, the carrier says. Financial details were not disclosed.Japan Airlines and Boeing last week signed a deal in Tokyo to install the latter's Connexion by Boeing in-flight Internet system into some JAL aircraft. The deal came a day after Singapore Airlines signed a letter of intent with Boeing to install the system. The Connexion by Boeing provides passengers a broadband Internet connection via satellite. Users can connect using their notebook computers or PDAs via either Ethernet ports in seats or a wireless LAN on the aircraft.