Microsoft has bought web conferencing company PlaceWare and plans to turn it into a new business unit.
According to the San Jose Mercury News the new unit is to be led by Anoop Gupta, a former Stanford University professor who most recently worked as technical assistant to Microsoft chairman Bill Gates.
The companies have not revealed how much the deal cost but said that Microsoft would retain most of PlaceWare's 320 employees. PlaceWare has a small number of staff in the UK.
Microsoft's move is seen as part of a plan to compete with IBM and its Lotus SameTime server software.
Faced with the slump in PC software sales, Microsoft is expanding into an array of new businesses. The company has said it will spend part of its $43bn (£27bn) in cash on strategic acquisitions.
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