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

-Source IM Community Responds"> Members of the open-source IM community (which includes the Gaim and Miranda IM projects) expressed skepticism about Microsofts move. If Microsoft charges for a license, that could block them out since they are free services. Sean Egan, a lead developer for Gaim, wrote in an e-mail interview that he and other developers are still weighing their options. Microsoft would be likely to provide the client a license since Gaim is one of a few that allows non-Windows users access into the messaging service, he wrote.
"However, I worry that pursuing a license might legitimate MSNs demand that third-party clients need licenses," Egan wrote. "As the law was explained to me when AOL attempted to block us from its AIM network, MSN has no legal right to refuse access to its servers in the (United States)."
Even when one of the major IM networks has tried to block access, third parties generally have found ways around the roadblocks by supporting any new protocols, third-party providers say. Gurry said that for now Microsoft will be using a technological approach, not a legal one, to enforce its ban on unauthorized IM clients and services. Microsoft has been a past proponent of interoperability among IM services, having sought to connect MSN Messenger into America Online Inc.s Instant Messenger service in 1999 and joining other companies in calling for AOL to be required to open its AIM service as part of its merger with Time Warner. In May, Microsoft and AOL also agreed to work on IM interoperability as part of a settlement of antitrust litigation between the companies. Microsoft remains supportive of interconnecting its IM service with other parties, Gurry said,"but with the right business terms, and customer protections need to be in place before we move forward with interconnection agreements." But for Miranda IMs Öberg, Microsoft needs to do more to prove it supports true interoperability. He believes that the first of the big three commercial IM providers to embrace openness will win in the IM market. "Any cooperation worth mentioning would mean that they publish the protocol specs, allows users to freely choose which client to use and that they dont put any restrictions on what functionality the developers add to their clients," Öberg wrote. "However, that doesnt really sound like (Microsoft), does it?"

Matthew Hicks As an online reporter for, 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 Along with Web conferencing, he follows search engines, Web browsers, speech technology and the Internet domain-naming system.

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