Part of Forbes' "Microsoft at 30" coverage...
I vividly remember the day that the Placeware announcement was made last year.  I was at the IBM SWG sales meeting, and there were lots of questions.  It's been interesting to watch:

WebEx, with $190 million in sales last year, seems to have been able to exploit a lag in the time it has taken Microsoft, with $36.8 billion in annual sales, to integrate PlaceWare into its product line, to add new features and to Microsoft-ize it so its "skin" looks familiar to users....
"Microsoft spent time amalgamating [PlaceWare] with its product lines. There haven't been a lot of new exciting features," says Sara Radicati, analyst and principle of the Radicati Group. "If Microsoft acquires somebody in an emerging market, they're more likely to slow them down than speed them up."
Anoop Gupta, vice president of Microsoft's real-time collaboration group, acknowledged that the current version of LiveMeeting is essentially the same as the PlaceWare product it bought last year. Before Microsoft bought PlaceWare, he says, the company's collaboration efforts, including R&D investments, were far flung across various business units. The company "didn't have [its] act fully together," he says.
Microsoft has spent a ton of money advertising Live Meeting in the last 18 months, so the claim rings a bit hollow.  It's just a bit more than intriguing that in a commodity service-only portion of the web conferencing market, Microsoft -- who typically are good at commoditization -- haven't been successful.  Perhaps because they can't bundle the license for a service with something else?
The Forbes article has a few points I quarrel with -- not sure who they are citing for market share (they say WebEx has 67% share -- of what? Hosted e-meetings?), but it sure doesn't sound right to me.  Also, they say
As the creator of the most popular presentation application, Microsoft is the only company with access to native source code and thus can nicely tie PowerPoint, which is a prime Web conferencing application, to LiveMeeting.
Kind of dangerous for Microsoft to make this a lead claim for the next version of LiveMeeting, isn't it?  At any rate, Lotus Sametime, Lotus Workplace Team Collaboration, and for that matter WebEx are doing a solid job of PowerPoint integration.
Microsoft will sell LiveMeeting as a service (as it is today) but will also sell it as a traditional software license. The per-user pricing will be fixed and will cover unlimited use for a set period of time.
like Lotus is already offering with the recently announced Lotus Web Conferencing offering.
Link: Forbes: A Microsoft rival avoids being Netscaped, for now >

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