The news of Microsoft's intentions to acquire Web conferencing service provider PlaceWare came as a bit of shock when I checked e-mail late last night. When all the formalities are complete, PlaceWare will become part of Microsoft's newly formed Real Time Collaboration Group that will operate under the Information Worker business. Terms of the deal were not announced.Microsoft taking on a Web conferencing provider helps validate Web conferencing as an enterprise concern, rather than just a departmental tool used on an ad hoc basis. PlaceWare has been battling with WebEx for the number one spot in the market, but has been losing ground as of late. It will be interesting to see how this plays out in terms of Microsoft's conferencing and collaboration strategy. They've made some strides with its Messenger for XP client, but that functionality is restricted to Windows XP users only. My bet is we'll see a tight integration between Microsoft's products (Exchange, Messenger, etc) and the PlaceWare service. Time will tell.