Microsoft, IBM Lotus and DYS Analytics all separately made announcements recently that will have significant implications for the messaging and collaboration industry.Here is a synopsis of the announcements and what I think they mean:* Microsoft said it would acquire PlaceWare, the developer of Web conferencing services used by a wide variety of companies, including American Express, HP and Prudential.I assume Microsoft will tightly integrate PlaceWare's conferencing as part of its Greenwich effort (a bid to put instant messaging, presence and conferencing into its operating system), although it will likely continue to offer PlaceWare as a stand-alone service as well. If so, this should position Microsoft well to compete with IBM Lotus, which has integrated electronic conferencing capabilities into Sametime. PlaceWare's probable integration into Greenwich is also important because it will give customers a choice between roughly similar Microsoft and IBM Lotus offerings.* IBM Lotus announced its Next Gen Mail product, aimed squarely at the "unmessaged" users we've discussed in past columns. Next Gen Mail, which has yet to be officially named, will integrate with Lotus Domino and will initially provide only e-mail, to be followed by calendaring functions in a subsequent release this summer. The product will support several standards, including POP3 and SMTP, and will run on WebSphere Application Servers using DB2 as the data store.This announcement is important, if only because it provides formal acknowledgement from one of the top two messaging vendors that nontraditional users of e-mail are a key growth area. While Microsoft and IBM Lotus currently provide e-mail products that can be used in these environments, the IBM Lotus announcement clearly positions the company as focusing on the nontraditional messaging market for a key part of its growth.* DYS Analytics announced Collaboration Control for Sametime. This product allows Sametime administrators to proactively monitor their environments to improve system uptime, measure how Sametime is used, do capacity planning and so forth.This product is important because it shows that at least some part of the enterprise\u00a0instant messaging\u00a0market is now maturing to the point that it needs the ability to proactively monitor and manage enterprise instant messaging, and because it means that instant messaging is now a critical business function in many enterprises.