Plus: Sprint to lay off 2,000; New IE holes found, Govt. awards high-speed design contract; Enterprise IP PBX shipments up, report says; former Compaq exec resigns HP.NetMeeting, once hyped as\u00a0Microsoft's answer to online conferencing, is being gradually phased out in favor of the company's newest real-time collaboration tool, according to company officials. Microsoft already has ceased development of the software. NetMeeting, first introduced in 1996, gives way to Office Live Meeting, a browser-based conferencing service that Microsoft acquired when\u00a0it bought PlaceWare earlier this year.\u00a0The service, and eventually a server based on the technology that will include applications sharing and whiteboarding, will be linked into other real-time collaboration tools from Microsoft such as Live Communications Server and with client applications that are part of Office.Sprint\u00a0announced last week that 2,000 employees will be getting pink slips. The carrier says it's reducing its staff in an effort to lower the company's "total operating expenses by 5% to 7% over the next three years or more than $1 billion annually." Sprint announced its plans to reduce costs in September. Jobs are being eliminated in nearly all departments, according to the carrier.The layoffs are also the result of the service provider's reorganization. Sprint has been restructuring the company into two divisions that will address the consumer and business markets. Previously the company was divided into several divisions, including wireless, global markets and local services. Sprint says employees affected by the layoffs will receive severance packages based on length of service.A set of new security vulnerabilities have been discovered in Microsoft's Internet Explorer Web browser that used together could let hackers compromise user PCs, researchers warned last week. The five vulnerabilities have been reported in Internet Explorer 6.0, although other versions might have been affected, according to a bulletin released by security company Secunia.The scripting flaws could let hackers bypass security and compromise systems, giving them access to sensitive information and cross-site scripting, according to Secunia. Secunia has classified the vulnerabilities as "extremely critical" and is advising all Internet Explorer users to disable Active Scripting or "use another product." Microsoft has advised users to download its latest Internet Explorer cumulative patch, released Nov. 11, while it looks into the new vulnerabilities.The Department of Energy's Office of Science last week awarded the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee $4.5 million to design a high-speed network capable of operating at 10G to 40G bit\/sec. That speed is about 200,000 to 800,000 times faster than the fastest dial-up connection of 56K bit\/sec, according to a press release from the lab.The prototype system, dubbed Science UltraNet, would link ORNL with other research institutions that rely on supercomputers capable of trillions of calculations per second. The network would let the scientists quickly complete projects that require the transfer of large amounts of data. The three-year effort would let the three ORNL scientists in charge set up an experimental network linking the Oak Ridge lab to others in Atlanta, Chicago and California.A report released last week from Dell'Oro Group shows that enterprise IP PBX line shipments in the third quarter reached 1.53 million, double that from the same quarter a year ago. Line shipments also grew by 23% over the previous quarter, the Dell'Oro report says.The market leader is Cisco, which saw its line shipments grow by 58% over the third quarter of last year. Nortel was second in terms of line shipments, followed by Avaya, Alcatel and Siemens. Avaya saw the second-best growth spurt in the market last quarter, increasing its shipments by 28%.Jeff Clarke, the former Compaq CFO who led the integration team overseeing the company's merger with HP, has resigned effective immediately from HP. Along with Webb McKinney, who also recently announced plans to retire, Clarke was in charge of orchestrating the integration of the largest acquisition in the technology industry's history. After the integration, Clarke assumed the role of executive vice president of global operations in charge of HP's supply chain operations.An HP spokesman said the company would not comment on reasons for Clarke's departure. A call to Clarke's office was greeted by an automated message informing callers the line had been disconnected, and an e-mail message was returned to sender. A number of HP executives have left the company in recent weeks, including the former head of Compaq's server division, Mary McDowell. Despite the departures, HP last week posted its best financial results since the merger with Compaq.