Microsoft Mum on Third-Party IM Licenses

As Microsoft IM cutoff passes, third-party licensing details scarce.

On the day it set as a cutoff for unauthorized third parties to stop connecting into its instant messaging network, Microsoft Corp. is offering few details about its progress in creating licensing agreements to continue access.

Microsoft last month announced that unauthorized third parties connecting into its .Net Messenger Service, which powers Windows Messenger and MSN Messenger, would be blocked come Oct. 15 unless they formed a licensing agreement with the Redmond, Wash., software giant. Microsoft had encouraged third parties to submit an online form to seek a formal arrangement, even sending certified letters notifying some third parties of the cutoff.

On Wednesday, officials with Microsofts MSN group confirmed that the deadline stands, but wouldnt discuss many specifics of the progress for licensing. MSN officials said they are in negotiations with several third parties, but that none were ready to be announced.

At least one third party, though, had little success in getting Microsoft to discuss licensed access to its IM network. Jabber Inc., the commercial arm of the open-source IM project, said that as a result it would stop providing an MSN gateway that allowed customers of its enterprise IM system to interconnect with Microsofts IM network.

Jabber had contacted Microsoft about its licensing program but received little cooperation from Microsoft, said Frank Cardello, vice president of business development at Denver-based Jabber.

"Microsoft wont work with us, and to date theyve been non-responsive to our business inquiries about a supported gateway," Cardello said. "Its not going to have a big impact on what we do. People dont buy us for interoperability."

Along with the third-party cutoff, Wednesday also marked the date by which users of older versions of MSN Messenger and Windows Messenger needed to upgrade in order to continue accessing the network. Microsoft has discontinued support for Windows versions older than MSN Messenger v.5.0 or older than the latest versions of Windows Messenger v.4.7.2009.

MSN officials said that about 98 percent of its customers have made the necessary upgrades.

In the enterprise space, though, Microsoft is pushing ahead with third-party partnerships for its upcoming Office Live Communications Server 2003 software. It announced on Wednesday at the Instant Messaging Planet 2003 Conference and Expo in San Jose 10 partners for the platform.

These partners will provide software and services to add features such as security, logging and wireless access. The partnerships also include providing enterprises using Live Communications Server with a connection into the consumer-oriented MSN Messenger service.

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