Will Licensing Help or
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 networkssuch as MSN, Yahoo and America Onlinethrough 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.