-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.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?"
"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)."