Will Licensing Help or

By Matthew Hicks  |  Posted 2003-08-26 Print this article Print

Hurt IM?"> Microsofts call for licensing has sparked confusion and debate among the developers and operators of third-party clients and services, many of which allow users to log into multiple IM networks—such as MSN, Yahoo and America Online—through one client. Some view Microsofts licensing plans as an important step toward formalizing and improving access, while others worry that the software makers intentions are aimed at thwarting third parties. Officials at Jabber Inc., which sells a commercial IM platform based on the open-source Jabber protocol, said they want to work out an arrangement with Microsoft, but if it cant be done by the deadline, they would end MSN access. The Denver company received a letter from Microsoft and plans to complete the online form.
"This is the first time any of the big three (IM services) has formalized communications and reached out and said it is asking for cooperation," said Rob Balgley, Jabber president and CEO. "We really dont want to supply rogue gateways to large commercial consumer providers."
Formal licensing could help the industry, he said, because currently Jabber and other third-party IM vendors cannot guarantee customer access to the MSN, Yahoo or AOL. Instead, Jabber, which has 80 business customers, has built gateways to access those networks protocols because some customers want access, he said. Cerulean Studios, the developer of one of the most popular multiprotocol IM clients, Trillian, did not return phone calls seeking comment. Next page: The open-source IM community responds.

Matthew Hicks As an online reporter for eWEEK.com, Matt Hicks covers the fast-changing developments in Internet technologies. His coverage includes the growing field of Web conferencing software and services. With eight years as a business and technology journalist, Matt has gained insight into the market strategies of IT vendors as well as the needs of enterprise IT managers. He joined Ziff Davis in 1999 as a staff writer for the former Strategies section of eWEEK, where he wrote in-depth features about corporate strategies for e-business and enterprise software. In 2002, he moved to the News department at the magazine as a senior writer specializing in coverage of database software and enterprise networking. Later that year Matt started a yearlong fellowship in Washington, DC, after being awarded an American Political Science Association Congressional Fellowship for Journalist. As a fellow, he spent nine months working on policy issues, including technology policy, in for a Member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He rejoined Ziff Davis in August 2003 as a reporter dedicated to online coverage for eWEEK.com. Along with Web conferencing, he follows search engines, Web browsers, speech technology and the Internet domain-naming system.

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