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Microsoft, Yahoo Finally Merge IM Networks 299

Posted by timothy
from the intarweb-communications-changed-4evr dept.
WinBreak writes "Marketwatch is reporting that, nine months after their announcement, Microsoft and Yahoo! are finally ready to roll out beta IM clients of MSN Messenger and Yahoo! Messenger that will be able to talk to each other." The Windows Live Ideas and Yahoo! Messenger pages have more information; the companies say that the resulting user community will be the world's largest, at around 350 million accounts, and that they'll be using SSL to encrypt the traffic between the systems.
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Microsoft, Yahoo Finally Merge IM Networks

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  • Solution? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 13, 2006 @08:31AM (#15711754)
    A client [sourceforge.net] to communicate with them all. And it's free for almost any operating system.
    • Re:Solution? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by aymanh (892834) on Thursday July 13, 2006 @08:51AM (#15711860) Journal
      The difference, however, is that you need a separate account for each protocol when using Gaim. This merge means that one Yahoo or MSN account is enough to access both networks.

      Gaim user here by the way, I haven't tried to contact an MSN user through my Yahoo account yet, and I wonder if it is (or will be) possible.
    • by ms1234 (211056) on Thursday July 13, 2006 @08:51AM (#15711862)
      One client in the darkness to bind them. Lets see how fast the worms spread after this.
      • Lets see how fast the worms spread after this.

        This should slow down the propagation of worms. Suppose MSN and Yahoo have the same number of users. The space being searched has now doubled, so a worm affecting only one of the major clients (the MSN client or the Yahoo client) will need to attack double the number of users just to successfully infect the same number of users as it currently would.
        • This should slow down the propagation of worms ... The space being searched has now doubled

          Most worms just grab the contact list and send themselves to all contacts, one after the other. There is no 'space' to search.
  • by fyonn (115426) <dave@fyonn.net> on Thursday July 13, 2006 @08:33AM (#15711761) Homepage
    I think virtually every user wants all the IM networks to interconnect and from 4 big IM networks, we've had two mergers. First AIM and ICQ interconnected and now MSN and yahoo. lets get these two big networks to talk to each other and settle all the messing about!

    dave
    • by tapo (855172)
      AIM is federating with Google Talk. [google.com] This can mean one of two things.

      1. Google is building some sort of stupid AIM functionality into their client.

      2. AOL will realize that staying a closed network will cause them to go the way of the dodo, and the best way to keep their users is open up an XMPP (Jabber) gateway. Not a transport mind you, a full-blown gateway that makes it transparent, allowing AOL to use their existing OSCAR protocol in-house while talking to the Jabber network.

      If this occurs, and Microsoft
      • yeah, but how many people (even on slashdot where geeks are common) actually *use* google talk? I've got an account, and even set up ichat to use it but I never log into it now as I don't know anyone else who uses it.

        so yeah, it's nice that googletalk and AIM might interoperate, but I think the real action will be when msn and aim interoperate.

        dave
        • by Niten (201835)

          That's more or less how I used to feel about my Jabber account. But since Google Talk has come along, I've been finding it easier to convince my friends to make the switch.

          To begin with, I had been urging my AIM-using friends to switch to the GAIM/Adium clients for a couple of years now, which was easy because the official AIM client is such a kludge. Since many of my friends use GMail anyway, once they were using a multi-protocol IM client it was easy to get them to take the extra step of signing onto

        • by Kadin2048 (468275) <slashdot.kadin@x[ ].net ['oxy' in gap]> on Thursday July 13, 2006 @10:55AM (#15712602) Homepage Journal
          I thought the same thing -- "neato, but why bother when I'll never have anyone to talk to" -- until I started to see people pop up as Available on my GTalk contact list.

          Since they've built the chat features into GMail, I know a lot of people who use it, particularly from work. Quite a few people I know just leave their GMail open at work in the background in a browser window, and this means that they're signed on to GTalk.

          I guess this may not apply if your friends all don't use GMail for their personal email, but a lot of mine do. The person that uses Hotmail or Yahoo Mail is the exception rather than the rule, and I think this is only going to grow since I've seen a lot of recent college grads signing up for GMail (even non-techie ones), while previously they might have gone for Hotmail or Yahoo. (I think the major selling point of Gmail is actually that the namespace for email addresses isn't as exhausted as Hotmail's or Yahoo's are, meaning you have a shot of getting your real name, plus it doesn't have quite the "Internet ghetto" reputation that a Hotmail address does. Even my mother knows that a Hotmail address is the shitty basement apartment of the virtual world.)
    • lets get these two big networks to talk to each other and settle all the messing about!

      Great! More cross-IM malware to come ! Spammers and others won't have to spam multiple IM networks. They would only need to infect one, probably the weakest link... :D
    • I wouldn't call it interconnecting so much as I'd call it a hostile buy-out with intent to kill.

      ICQ's popularity was ramping up at such a speed its IM implementation looked like it might overshadow AOL's which was losing customers due to dis-satisfaction with the AIM client environment.

      ICQ still exists and was rolled into AIM. However, shortly after the buyout the dev teams were slashed (Mac team eliminated) and updates seem to have slowed to a snails pace. Most ICQ users I interacted with have all used the
  • by ben there... (946946) on Thursday July 13, 2006 @08:34AM (#15711766) Journal
    I wonder what it means for Gaim and Trillian.

    Or Google's Jabber client. I have a Jabber server, but I never use it. Does anyone use Jabber?
    • by fishdan (569872) on Thursday July 13, 2006 @08:46AM (#15711830) Homepage Journal
      Open protocols are good for open source. Gaim and Adium are my prefered clients on linux and mac respectively, but I use yahoo messenger on windows, and I like *some* of the bells and whistles. I certainly enjoy the integration with Yahoo music.

      It would be nice to see there be some official standards of a chat protocol. The thing that is in the way of us achieving of truly open chat is the fact that the account providers think they "own" the users -- which is why they are possesive about them. Not sure how to get around that either.
      • by smallpaul (65919) <paul@@@prescod...net> on Thursday July 13, 2006 @08:59AM (#15711891)

        It would be nice to see there be some official standards of a chat protocol.

        There is: http://www.jabber.org/ [jabber.org]

        The thing that is in the way of us achieving of truly open chat is the fact that the account providers think they "own" the users -- which is why they are possesive about them.

        Yes, that is the problem. It has nothing to do with technology or standards availability.

      • I've tried jabber in the past, in fact I tried quite hard... but I ran into several little problems that annoyed me, one of the major ones being that when someone's connection to their jabber server times out I do not get notified of this, instead it appears as though the user is still online as normal.

        Another problem I encountered is that when I set up my own server, it had trouble communicating with some of the main open jabber servers (jabber.com or jabber.org, I forgot which); with the problem appearing
    • Or Google's Jabber client. I have a Jabber server, but I never use it. Does anyone use Jabber?

      Yes. About 70% of the people on my contact list have a Jabber account, 30% use ICQ/AIM and 60% use MSN. Note: Some people have more than one, which is why the numbers do not add up to 100%.

    • Just a theory, but could Jabber finally take off in the mainstream if the commercial IM services keep absorbing one another? Open-source IM may catch on more if it's just one out of three big protocols instead of the one among many it once was. Additionally, once commercial IM is in a big duopoly (or even eventually monopoly) they may well feel they have the opportunity to leverage their market share into more money (by dumping more ads or spam on users, for instance) which will piss just that many more p
    • I use Jabber exclusively, almost all my friends use it (to talk with the ones that don't, some Jabber servers offers transport services) and my ISP is even kind enough to offer it's own jabber servers with transport services to MSN, AIM and IRC.

      I really believe that Jabber is the best thing that happened to the IM world ever. It's only a shame that inertia alone keeps people holding on to services like AIM, MSN or even ICQ. I mean, the protocol is extremelly well thought out and the developing community is
    • I have a Jabber server, but I never use it. Does anyone use Jabber?

      Yes. I've seen quite a few more people using it because of Google's efforts. What I''d like to see is AOL move completely to Jabber and partner with IBM, Apple, and other players to make it the built in protocol in all their offerings.

    • Or Google's Jabber client. I have a Jabber server, but I never use it. Does anyone use Jabber?

      Well of course the silly answer is, Yes. The slightly less silly answer is that I too have a jabber server, and have been happily running it for several years, and using it essentially every day. Right now, I'm using it to read the commentary on a cricket match.

      Sure I have accounts on a couple of the commercial IM networks, and it's true that sometimes one does have to resort to using them, but only for the

    • I wonder what it means for Gaim and Trillian.

      GAIM will still have an audience with Linux users, Mac users (via Adium), and any Windows users who have multiple IM accounts, like OSS, or just IMing without ads. Sounds like the same audience they had two days ago.

      Or Google's Jabber client. I have a Jabber server, but I never use it. Does anyone use Jabber?

      Lots of people have gmail, and each of them basically have a Jabber account already. Even if you don't use Google's client, they have it built into Gm

    • by samael (12612)
      A whole bunch of people I know just started using Jabber because LiveJournal launched its own Jabber server. Still in beta, but it works pretty well most of the time.

      Also, Google Chat is Jabber based.
  • Encryption (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Henry V .009 (518000) on Thursday July 13, 2006 @08:34AM (#15711767) Journal
    Wow -- encrypting traffic "between the two companies' computers" according to the article. Would it really kill them to encrypt all messages between users?
    • Re:Encryption (Score:3, Interesting)

      by plumby (179557)
      How often do you need encryption on your IM conversations? Personally, I'm rarely bothered about anyone eavesdropping on me asking my sister how she is.

      It may occasionally be useful as an option, but it seems like overkill for the other 99.9% of conversations.
      • Re:Encryption (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Henry V .009 (518000) on Thursday July 13, 2006 @08:49AM (#15711847) Journal
        Overkill? Oh no, my computer is working harder than it should! Look, for 99.9% of conversations, I don't care that there are legal protections keeping the government from tapping my phone without a court order. But I, and everybody else, is still damn glad that protection exists.
        • by MarkByers (770551) on Thursday July 13, 2006 @09:02AM (#15711912) Homepage Journal
          I don't care that there are legal protections keeping the government from tapping my phone without a court order.

          Americanized:

          I don't care that there used to be legal protections keeping the government from tapping my phone without a court order.
        • Overkill, as in development effort spent delivering functionality that virtually no-one needs. And as for 'my computer working harder than it should' - if the message needs to be passed between MSN and Yahoo's networks, it's going to need to be decrypted in the middle to be converted between message formats. The processor cost of managing that many SSL connections at MS or Yahoo would be huge.
          • Instant messages shouldn't need to go through MS or Yahoo. Central servers should be able to resolve names and maybe negotiate the initial connection somehow, but the messages should be able to be sent P2P.
      • Re:Encryption (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Your "sister"? Does your wife know about this "sister"?

        And do you see the point here? Not everything legal is moral, not everything illegal is immoral. E.g., trade secrets are usually neither illegal nor immoral. Do you want your mom's secret cookie recipe to fall into the wrong hands?

        And AFIAC absolutely none of it is the government's or anyone else's business. I'd like to see encryption built into every IM and email client, even if I didn't need to use it myself. Your processor cycles and memory are being
      • Re:Encryption (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Just Some Guy (3352) <kirk+slashdot@strauser.com> on Thursday July 13, 2006 @10:55AM (#15712601) Homepage Journal
        How often do you need encryption on your IM conversations?

        Always.

        Personally, I'm rarely bothered about anyone eavesdropping on me asking my sister how she is.

        Here's the thing: if you pass plaintext traffic 99.9% of the time, it's going to look awfully suspicious when you encrypt that remaining 0.1%. Maybe you're only asking your coworker what kind of beer to buy for that party you're having and don't want the nosy network admin reading about it (or insert other innocent use here), but suddenly your messages stick out like a sore thumb.

        Encrypt your traffic whenever possible even if you don't need it. If and when you actually do need it, you'll be glad you did.

      • by Opportunist (166417) on Thursday July 13, 2006 @11:32AM (#15712818)
        To actually make encryption meaningful (and to put the data hoarding craze some governmental agencies are into these days) you have to drown them in data. If you only encrypt "sensitive" data, you're actually marking this information as "worth being snooped on", and the encryption actually serves the wrong purpose.

        For better security, just encrypt everything. From your flight plans for next week to the grocery list of last week. As soon as there is more to be searched than can be searched in reasonable time, snooping becomes as informative as not snooping.

        You can't keep your government out of your conversation. They can muscle in, invade into your privacy and should someone cry out against it he's gonna be a commu... I mean terrorist (sorry, I'm still living in the past). So instead of withholding information, which you can't do, flood them with it.
    • Everyone can do that if they choose to go with Jabber and adopt the right IM client.

      The first client that comes to mind is Psi, which has a great support for OpenPGP encryption. The jabber standards require SSL/TSL encryption to start a XML stream and the client itself is capable of encrypting your messages without a problem. So, as it is easy to see, there is absolutely no need for a new protocol. I guess the only barrier here is the phobia of open-ness, which makes all those companies cringe at open stand
      • Re:Encryption (Score:3, Insightful)

        by gbjbaanb (229885)
        From an end-user POV, nothing to do with open-ness, I use Messenger as all the people at work use it, and I've grown accustomed to it. That's it. If it used Jabber protocol, I'd use it, but I'd still be using the Messenger application.

        MS might possibly switch to using Jabber, but that'd cost them a lot to change things over, and then they'd want to enhance the protocol to handle some things that the MSN protocol allowed but Jabber doesn't, and then the open source community would start to shout how MS is em
  • for the Trillian [ceruleanstudios.com] engineers! Seriously Instant Messaging needs to be opened up into SOME standard. I think MSFT/YHOO just got tired of being AOL's bitch. It isn't like they care about you you know.
  • aMSN in Linux? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MMC Monster (602931) on Thursday July 13, 2006 @08:43AM (#15711818)
    Anyone know how does this effects aMSN? The reason I ask is that aMSN supposedly supports video chat, which GAIM doesn't support yet (and likely won't support in 2.0.0).

    Can aMSN be used for video chat between 2 yahoo users now?
  • Ah Trillian! (Score:3, Informative)

    by vivin (671928) <vivin,paliath&gmail,com> on Thursday July 13, 2006 @08:51AM (#15711861) Homepage Journal
    Before I knew about Trillian [trillian.cc], which I've been using for over four-to-five years now, this might have been big news for me. Sure I've heard a complaints about Trillian's clunky interface (IMHO, I haven't had any problems with it), but it sure does the job for me. It's much better than having three separate IM clients cluttering my machine.

    The merging of networks does have its advantages for the developers of consolidated IM clients since they can now use the same protocol for two networks.
    • Re:Ah Trillian! (Score:3, Informative)

      by AnyoneEB (574727)
      Actually, in its current state, it does not sound like the merger will help Trillian and Gaim because they are just allowing IMs/presence announcements to pass between the networks. That is not the same as the AIM/ICQ merger where they currently use the same protocol (OSCAR). So, for now at least, multi-protocol clients will have to support both, just users will not need to login to both.
    • Like the fact that you can't Alt-tab to the main window? How basic is that?
  • the companies say that the resulting user community will be the world's largest, at around 350 million accounts

    Those are the companies' numbers, but according to a survey done by another firm in June (mentioned in this Reuters article [reuters.co.uk]), the estimated unduplicated audience of Windows Live and Yahoo messengers was 43.5 million U.S. users. Perhaps Yahoo and MS are counting all Yahoo and Passport accounts? Personally I have several Yahoo accounts and only use one for IM, and I'm sure many other accounts aren't

    • according to a survey done by another firm in June (mentioned in this Reuters article [reuters.co.uk]), the estimated unduplicated audience of Windows Live and Yahoo messengers was 43.5 million U.S. users. Perhaps Yahoo and MS are counting all Yahoo and Passport accounts?

      Or perhaps the world is something more than the U.S.? I know it sounds incredible to some of you, but it may be true!
      • Ah, thanks for pointing this out, I think you are right. Except for the firm's name, the article doesn't specifically mention that those numbers are US-only, perhaps this is why I missed the US part, this explains it.

        And by the way I'm not American, so I do know that other parts of the world exist :p
    • Isnt the whole world, you see.
      In fact, it only a very small part. less than 5% of the world population.

      And even there they have 45 million users.
      So those numbers _might_ not be as inflated as they seem at first.
  • by bilbravo (763359) on Thursday July 13, 2006 @09:04AM (#15711926) Homepage
    How many of those are bots? ha!

    On a more serious note, I wonder what rules they used to deal with dupes (AFAIK, you can register for MSN with any e-mail... what about yahoo accounts? maybe I'm misinformed)
    • On a more serious note, I wonder what rules they used to deal with dupes (AFAIK, you can register for MSN with any e-mail... what about yahoo accounts? maybe I'm misinformed)

      Why should they deal with dupes? If you open two accounts with each service you have 4 accounts and you will be counted four times. Nothing to deal with.
  • I sure hope they'll do a Mac beta. YIM's Mac client is WAY behind the Windows one, lacking both stability and features. And neither GAIM nor Trillian is available for the Mac. (Fire [sourceforge.net] worked pretty well for me until my copy died in some unrecoverable way.)
    • dude, Adium (Score:5, Informative)

      by zamyatin (768442) on Thursday July 13, 2006 @09:17AM (#15711986) Homepage
      Need an open source, multi-protocol IM client for Mac?

      Adium: http://adiumx.com/ [adiumx.com]
    • I was shocked to see Yahoo very recently releasing a new OS X beta verison of their IM client! Until about 2 weeks ago, all they had for Mac users was that horrible, 3 year old client full of bugs and growing incompatibility with their own network!

      It makes me wonder if that's tied in to this whole MSN/Yahoo intercompatibility thing - because MSN *does* have a very nice, current Mac OS X client.
    • Well the current Messenger 3.0 beta 1 for Mac which was released very recently is much better than to old one and it was just updated today to support talking to MSN contacts. If the not on the first run of YIM for Mac 3.0 is to be belived, later betas and the final 3.0 should be much closer to the Windows version feature wise, at least as far as actual messaging goes, especially with voice and video.
  • by Tominva1045 (587712) on Thursday July 13, 2006 @09:17AM (#15711983)


    If they don't encrypt the traffic between users then they will have plausible deniability about participating in e-tapping users for things like homeland security or marketing data mining.

    On the other hand, if they encrypt the communications they could be asked to actively provide access to the communications of others- opening them up to lawsuits galore.

    Lastly, if the communication between clients were open then logs of them could be processed, useful data harvested, and sold to marketers. But if the data were encrypted then the marketees would have a pretty good idea where their data was compromised.

    It's not personal, just business.
  • Not to mention weird connectivity issues last night with the horribly archaic Y!M for OS X.

  • How's it work? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dschuetz (10924) <slash AT david DOT dasnet DOT org> on Thursday July 13, 2006 @09:52AM (#15712207) Homepage
    I know this is probably asking a lot, but has anyone actually tried these betas and watched the traffic to see what they're doing?

    Is it as simple as adding "@yahoo" or "msn:" to your buddy names, and from there all traffic is magically routed at the server side? That is, you'd use a Yahoo protocol with your yahoo client to send a message to the yahoo server, where it'll see that the destination buddy's name starts with "msn:" and so routes it to the MSN server, where it's then sent to yoru buddy?

    'cause if it's *that* simple, then it'd be no time at all before this works its way into the other clients.
    • Yeah I'd like to know this as well.

      How do they deal with the issue of duplicate names on the MSN and Yahoo networks, as well? There must be some commonly-used names that exist on both systems, and if you have one in your buddy list and want to add the other one (on the other network), you'll have to add something that identifies it as being foreign.

      What's interesting to me is that this could lead to people who have abandoning one or the other, in favor of whichever client is perceived as best. Right now if
    • Re:How's it work? (Score:3, Informative)

      by Touvan (868256)
      This is similar to how the open standard Jabber/XMPP protocol and google talk (based on said protocol) works.

      In Jabber clients, your IM name looks a lot like an email address, so that the server knows what server to send a particular message to. So for example, if you have a jabber.org IM account, and you want to talk to someone on a Google Talk account, you can just add username@gmail.com to your buddy list (or in reverse, you can add username@jabber.org to your GTalk buddy list).

      My business runs a Jabber
  • by petermgreen (876956) <plugwashNO@SPAMp10link.net> on Thursday July 13, 2006 @10:18AM (#15712362) Homepage
    and does it work with third party clients or just the official ones?
  • I see a lot of discussion going on here about whether gaim should support voice/video chat or not. I think it's the wrong discussion. If it has voice chat, at your option you can decide not to use it. The real question is if it *can* have a compatible voice/video chat. Since MS released the initial MSN messenger RFC, they've gone back to their old habits of not releasing specs to the public. I'm pretty sure the Gaim people have better things to do than reverse engineering some undocumented proprietary audio
  • As has been (loosely) pointed out, despite the AOL/ICQ and YIM/MSN network linking, Google Talk/Jabber/Gizmo do it in a much more socially acceptable way.

    Google Talk, Gizmo, and Jabber all communicate using the conveniently open XMPP [wikipedia.org] protocol (yes, like ATM machine, I know).
    This means new networks can connect to Google Talk (and the others I believe) without having to go through the absurd process of forging inter-company relationships and the like. It also means that new networks that appear using XMPP can
  • by jfroot (455025) <darmok@tanagra.ca> on Thursday July 13, 2006 @12:28PM (#15713177) Homepage
    homer:~$ ngrep MSG -d eth1 port 1863
    interface: eth1 (10.10.10.0/255.255.255.0)
    filter: ip and ( port 1863 )
    match: MSG
    ###############
    T 207.46.26.138:1863 -> 10.20.20.176:1319 [AP]
        MSG strathcona@hotmail.com FunFun 141..MIME-Version: 1.0..Content-Type: text/plain; charset=UTF-8..X-MMS-IM-Format: FN=Arial; EF=; CO=0....I sure hope they don't start encrypting MSN traffic... what would I do at work during the down times ;)

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