Instant messaging users in the financial industry have been among the more vocal advocates for interoperability among IM networks, and this week Reuters Group plc. gave those users another glimmer of hope when it announced that Version 5.0 of the Reuters Messaging service will federate with Microsoft Corp.s and America Online Inc.s consumer IM services.
Reuters, which markets its tool mainly to the financial community, said the service is designed to meet security and compliance requirements in the financial industry.
"It is a positive development, though it has been some time coming," said Graham Lawlor, chairman of the New York-based Financial Instant Messaging Association, an organization of 25 large financial companies dedicated to promoting IM interoperability.
Reuters in the fall of 2003 announced it was linking its network with MSN Messenger and AIM (AOL Instant Messenger).
"Putting together all the infrastructure around security and compliance between the different networks is what took so long," said David Gurlé, global head of collaboration services at Reuters, in London.
Reuters Messaging 5.0 also adds chat rooms, where conversations are automatically saved to help with compliance and workflow, and the ability for users to easily move from a group chat to a one-on-one IM conversation.
Version 5.0 also adds forms-based communication, with the ability to have messages sent as e-mails if a user is offline.
Next year, Reuters Messaging—which is based on Microsofts Office Live Communications Server technology—will enable LCS enterprise users to link to the Reuters Messaging network, said officials.
Reuters also previously inked agreements with enterprise IM providers IBM and Parlano Inc. to connect their respective networks to the Reuters Messaging network.
Reuters officials also said the company is working to federate with other public IM networks, such as those offered by Google Inc., Skype Technologies S.A. and Yahoo Inc.
"We are in talks with all of these companies, and, hopefully, in the next few months or years, we can make business agreements to allow our customers to reach users of those networks," said Gurlé.
Microsoft last month said it had teamed with Yahoo to connect users of the two companies consumer IM networks by the second half of next year, but neither company said whether it had any plans to work with other consumer IM providers, such as America Online or Google.