It was only a matter of time until Microsoft entered the web-based applications space. In 2004 they acquired Placeware, now known as Live Meeting, as a small piece of their Unified Communications strategy. Though the web collaboration space has grown at a rate of 24%, Live Meeting has not faired as well.
Nevertheless, as Google has drawn a line in the sand with their Google Apps, Google Docs and Gmail, Microsoft has bolded made it clear that they are stepping over this line and competing directly with Google for greater "internet territory." (If you have not looked at Google Apps, I would highly recomend it. Quick, easy, simple to use. A great way to backup files.)
As of today, all consumers will be able to write, store, and edit documents in Microsoft Word and Excel directly onto the internet. Microsoft Office is one of their cash cows so this move is extremely aggressive but more importantly, it's a shift from the traditional software and server model to a subscription-based model. Even Microsoft Exchange will be offered as a monthly subscription, a huge change from companies having to shell out loads of money to buy servers to run enterprise email accounts. (Office 2007 and Vista equated to 56% of the company's revenue, which were $16.4B.)
The MSFT Office Live Workspace will compete directly against WebEx WorkSpace and others. (WebEx acquired Intranets.com, founded in 1999 by Rick Faulk, in August of 2005 for $45M.) Both applications enable users to store documents, spreadsheets, PowerPoint presentations online which can then be accessed from any computer with an internet connection. Files can be accesses as read-only or read-write with revisioning capacbilities. This creates a central document repository and minimizes information float and multiple revised documents typically circulating via email.
In the end, it's what I've said since day 1, the Software as a Service (SaaS) model is here to stay. We are seeing fundamental shifts in the all technology marketplaces and strategic acquisitions by large enterprises such as Cisco, Oracle, IBM, Google, Yahoo.
Yahoo bought Zimbra for $359M: directly competes with Exchange as a web-based solution
Cisco bought WebEx for $3.2B for web collaboration and ubified communications
Google bought Postini, an email filtering solution
IBM acquired Web Dialogs, a web conferencing provider, for an undisclosed amount