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America Online

AOL Won't Enable Instant Messaging Interoperability 267

chill writes "Wired is reporting 'America Online is scaling back efforts to make its popular instant messaging system work with rivals, saying the task has proven too difficult and expensive.' That's funny, they don't seem to have a problem blocking anyone who figures out how to interoperate. Legally, they are not supposed to offer "next gen" IM over Time Warner's cable lines until they can interoperate. We shall see."
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AOL Won't Enable Instant Messaging Interoperability

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  • Maybe instead of BLOCKING those people, they should give them some money for their code... but then people could chat with their friends on AOL WITHOUT having to install the buggy AIM client. Heaven Forbid!
    • Re:Antitrust? (Score:2, Insightful)

      by spagma ( 514837 )
      Right, I guess they figure 'why give up the advertising space', because I am sure they know that if all the chat clients worked together nobody would use theirs.
  • Why? (Score:1, Troll)

    by AriesGeek ( 593959 )
    I use AIM, Yahoo Instant Messenger, and ICQ. I have seen MSN messenger. None of the others allow interoperability. Why should AOL make theirs that way if the others aren't following suit?
    • Re:Why? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by keesh ( 202812 ) on Thursday July 25, 2002 @08:40AM (#3950518) Homepage
      It was one of the conditions of the merger of AOL and TW. They were only allowed to merge if they met certain conditions (anti-monopoly measures), one of which was allowing interoperability with other IM clients.
      • Re:Why? (Score:5, Informative)

        by LBU.Zorro ( 585180 ) on Thursday July 25, 2002 @09:10AM (#3950665)
        Actually that's not quite right.

        They were permitted to merge, and the AIM server-to-server (noting that the FCC requires it to be server-to-server) interoperability was not an issue for the merge, EXCEPT that they were NOT allowed to provide realtime video messaging over their newly aquired cable modem networks UNTIL they had enabled that interoperability with either open published standards OR connections with three other IM networks.

        They have recently stated that they are pursuing other approaches to the interoperability aside from server-to-server because there are 'key issues' with that approach. This goes against the FCC decision (assuming they provide the video messaging) if they use anything other than server-to-server AND they enable video messaging, and there may well be real valid reasons for the issues with server-to-server, although I can't see them.

        • Server-to-server is really hard, for a number of reasons: other networks don't have exactly same features or underlying concepts, routing between networks and back is tricky to do without introducing the possibility of loops, and it's hard to nail down exactly what everybody's server protocol is going to be forever.

          People have problems with email-usenet gateways, and those are far more similar than IM networks. IRC, which was even designed for interoperability, is a number of detatched networks.

          In any case, server-to-server requires that the server on the other end be interested in talking to you. The other networks aren't required to interoperate and they probably don't care; people get MSN accounts even if they have AIM accounts, so there's no motivation for MSN to constrain their servers to work with the AIM ones.
    • Re:Why? (Score:2, Informative)

      I use AIM, Yahoo Instant Messenger, and ICQ. I have seen MSN messenger. None of the others allow interoperability. Why should AOL make theirs that way if the others aren't following suit?
      Because the government ordered them to? IIRC, part of the FTC/FCC agreements which allowed the AOL Time Warner merger to go forward specified that AOL had to open up its IM protocol (and broadband network) and play nice with others. They've allowed Earthlink to operate over Time Warner's cable lines - though arguably that isn't much competition - but they have yet to open up AIM.
    • > I use AIM, Yahoo Instant Messenger, and ICQ
      In that case, I suggest you take a look at Trillian [trillian.cc], which is a client for all of the above (as well as MSN and IRC) in a single program.
      • Or better yet Vista wich tosses in yahoo and jabber as well.
        • FYI, Trillian does allow use of Yahoo! IM as well, though not Jabber.
          • Right, and that is why I implemented a company wide phase out of Trillian when we standardised on jabber for all internal messaging 2 weeks ago.

            There is a lot to be said for having control of your own messaging server.

  • Sniff :| (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 25, 2002 @08:36AM (#3950499)
    So the Gaim is over?
  • by keesh ( 202812 ) on Thursday July 25, 2002 @08:38AM (#3950506) Homepage
    From the release notes for Trillian [trillian.cc] 0.73 (this is the app AOL are trying to block):
    Microsoft was kind enough to alert us to a change in the MSN servers that would have negatively affected Trillian. Thanks, Microsoft!
    AFAIK, Microsoft aren't even legally required to allow interoperability; are they doing the right thing, for once?
    • Yup...standard tactic.

      Microsoft is always nicer than the established standard. That's how they kill them.

      see 'Netscape' for further reference.
      • I agree. They are always all nice and friendly, and then once they get a product that beats the competition, the R&D stops. Just look at Outlook Express as a prime example. It hasn't changed significantly since IE4 (maybe even 3?), yet it's still the cleanest and snappiest email client on windows.

        I just wish it had a more powerful rules capability and that it handled newsgroups more efficiently. I'd also like to find a way to re-enable the infamous junk filter they got in trouble over a few years ago, as I found it fairly effective.

        It just seems like all major innovations stopped once they became more popular than all the other email clients.


        • this is OT but,
          Did you ever check Pegasus Mail www.pmail.com
          It's not as glossy as Outlook and needs a little getting used to, but it really does everything I want.

          just my 2 cents.
    • Microsoft has done this because they are still the underdog. Umm, MS msgr really is a horrible product....it is just a portal for Hailstorm/Passport usage. MS leveraging their OS to spread their IM client. Sorry, I am not an AOL fan, but AIM beats the pants off MS msgr. Maybe AIM's become too crufty (or not feature filled enough for some of you trillian users) but MS messenger really just _sucks_.
    • by fferreres ( 525414 ) on Thursday July 25, 2002 @09:01AM (#3950622)
      They ALWAYS do the right thing when they do not control a market. They are at the embrace stage!
    • they know how much the people want to have IM. Any company that doesn't allow interoperability is foolishly alienating potential customers.
  • Hmmm... (Score:1, Offtopic)

    by Corby911 ( 250281 )
    One would think that gaim [sf.net] would be a good argument that interoperability is possible, given that it spports AIM/ICQ (Oscar), MSN, Yahoo, Jabber, IRC, Gadu-Gadu, Napster, and Zephyr.
    • It isn't... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Andy Dodd ( 701 )
      If you read the article, it's server (Userbase) interoperability that is the issue, not client interoperability. The article mentions clients like Trillian, which offer the same interop capabilities as gAIM. It then says, "The user must sign up for each service."

      The issue here is interoperability between services. For example, say I have MSN messenger, foo@bar.com. I want to talk to my friend who uses AIM with the screenname Bazola. Right now, I can't, and the issue at hand is making this happen.
      • AOL is not suprisingly protecting its market share. The problem with that approach is that it only works for as long as AOL has the largest market share.

        Having downloaded AOL and Real software in the past there is simply no way I will ever do so again. They simply make far to many unauthorized changes to my machine and are deliberately coded to make it hard to undo. To get rid of the blinking icon in my system tray reminding me to upgrade realplayer I eventually had to reinstall the operating system. I loathe software that won't take no for an answer when I say I don't want to register or upgrade.

        While there are a lot of AOL users I get the feeling that people who use AOL regularly defect to use the Internet proper while very few people go the other way.

        If an AOL user wants to instant message me I will tell them to load up software from a company that will allow interconnection. I am not going to load up AOL spyware/adware just to talk to them. [Actually this has not happened yet, probably because I tend not to be anxious to talk to the people I know who are AOL users].

        Utlimately what we need to do is to design an IM infrastructure that actually works without the need for central choke points.

    • Re:Hmmm... (Score:3, Informative)

      by erasmus_ ( 119185 )
      As they specifically pointed out in the article, the kind of interoperability they're talking about isn't an "all in one" IM solution, which still requires you to create multiple accounts for each IM vendor. Instead, they mean allowing users from other networks to communicate directly with AIM users. So, you have a Yahoo account and I have AIM, you can add me directly as a contact, and msg me without signing up for AIM.

      Although your post, and others, are pointing out that AOL has been hostile to programs like gaim, Imici, Jabber, Trillian, etc., I believe that this is different from what AOL is being mandated to do. Now, granted, AOL should be nicer to all of these programs that provide us with at least the possibility of using other clients, but unfortunately it doesn't sound like that's something that's being made required of them.
  • the next version of OS X, 10.2, ships in about a month and it has an app with it called "iChat" thjat is 100% interoperable with AIM. it's autherized by AOL and everything. i don't know what kind of deal Apple made, but now that AOL droke down and allowed one to get in i would think it's just a matter of time.
    • by eNonymous Coward ( 586524 ) on Thursday July 25, 2002 @08:45AM (#3950549)
      ...which says:
      Kathy McKiernan, an AOL spokeswoman, said Wednesday that the company thought its resources were better devoted to "alternatives that are available to us now such as the hosted IM relationship with Apple."

      Under that arrangement, Apple wrote the software and AOL will handle the message transmissions. AOL developed a way for users on iChat to claim usernames already taken on AOL.
      You can bet that Apple paid through the nose for this interoperability. AOL is hoping that others will do the same, again quoth the article,
      Instead, AOL will focus on letting companies offer their own instant messaging services if they contract with AOL to run them.
      It's all about the benjamins.
    • Apple cooperated with AOL from the design phase onward to make it interoperable with AIM as easily as possible.

      I'm assuming it's Just Another OSCAR Messenger. (OSCAR is the protocol used by both AIM and recent versions of ICQ.) It's AIM, just with a different UI and different servers.
      • i realize Apple did a lot of work on their side of the software, but the one seemingly important thing that iChat seems to lack are the adverts. that was what made me ponder the dealings that went on.
        granted off and on over the years Apple machines shipped with an AOL icon on the desktop and you could sign up for AOL with the preloaded software. that would be interesting to see if it comes back in 10.2. everything i have heard about AOL for OS X is that it's still in a VERY messy beta stage. people i know running OS X And using AOL (don't ask because i don't know why) said it is terrible. maybe they will have it together for 10.2, or this is a long term planning. the whole thing seems odd though, the .Mac thing is almost a rebirth of the short lived Apple ISP without the actual internet service. if people used AOL then they might not see a need to sign up for .Mac.
        guess it points back to the $$$money$$$ theory. hrmmm..... time will tell.
  • by danheskett ( 178529 ) <danheskettNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Thursday July 25, 2002 @08:39AM (#3950514)
    I think the real problem here sounds like all the ways for this work come back to AOL either (1) giving up central control, (2) making fundamental changes to how accounts are handled (ie, by e-mail) and (3) AOL hosting the whole the thing on its servers.

    AOL shouldn't have to host the thing; it should be some type of decentralised system. On the other hand to do that will require breaking most of thier additional clients.

    Tough luck. Bummer.
    • They have figured by now that if they allow interoperability, then everyone will just use messenger. It comes bundled.

      AIM Non-interoperability at least means that you will pay a price for surrendering to MS lazy practices :) (half-kidding) ...

      Side note: my sister and my associate have just installed messenger ... :(
  • by taeric ( 204033 ) on Thursday July 25, 2002 @08:39AM (#3950515)
    I realize that there are some functions performed differently on seperate chat programs, but what is really stopping them all from creating a standard interface for communicating? It seems like the main reason for limiting the audience is to lock people into your look and feel client, but what good does that really serve?

    And, more importantly, how could we get these companies to actually adopt a standard? I realize there are probably some open source attempts, but unless a big company adopts them... I just don't see them taking off.

    • I realize that there are some functions performed differently on seperate chat programs, but what is really stopping them all from creating a standard interface for communicating? It seems like the main reason for limiting the audience is to lock people into your look and feel client, but what good does that really serve?

      One word: Greed
    • by arkanes ( 521690 ) <arkanes.gmail@com> on Thursday July 25, 2002 @09:21AM (#3950712) Homepage
      It's not "locking people to your look & feel client" It's "locking people to your look & feel client WITH ADVERTISING". Gotta make the money somehow.
    • It sounds like you're talking about a standard API for IM clients. That would be nice, but it's not what the interoperability requirement is about - AOL has to interoperate with other IM *services*.

      Sharing presence information is a much bigger challenge than interconnecting phone systems. Phone systems are more like e-mail; a call goes from here to there, you route it, you're done.

      In IM, your server is constantly checking everyone who signs on to see if they're on a buddy list somewhere, then checking if that buddy list's owner is signed on, and if so, updating their buddy list. Scaling that type of full-mesh matrix chatter up to an infinite number of geographically-dispersed, independently-run servers is a very tricky task. It's amazing enough that it works today on one system with over 1.5 million simultaneous users! There was a time we couldn't get past 8,000 because of lock contention.

      I suspect that, marketing reasons aside, there are true technical reasons that make this difficult.
  • AOL had better watch out that a standard comes along that they are to late in supporting. Sure other IM systems can interoperate with them, but who will want to use their product if it cant interoperate with others?
  • just throw out all the current instant messenging standards and make a new one. AOL owns AIM and ICQ which is the vast majority of IM anyway. They could change the way both programs work under the hood, making them follow the same standard (i could see how the name and number thing might be hard, but that's it). Then release new versions of both that look and feel like current version, just with the same standard IM protocol underneath. An open standard would be nice, but as long as other people can write clients its ok by me. Even if you have to pay, so long as there's another choice besides AIM or ICQ. If the industry wont come together to make a standard AOL should step forth and force one upon everyone. I can call anyone in the world on the telephone, I should have to have the same IM to IM everyone.
    • Re:Why not (Score:5, Informative)

      by reaper20 ( 23396 ) on Thursday July 25, 2002 @08:45AM (#3950548) Homepage
      It exists - Jabber [jabber.org].
    • AOL gets minimal ad dollars for those within their client. But they use IM to open a small browser window and push Time Warner promotions and content, do their own "Am I hot or Not", local weather, ect. This comes up by default when the client starts though can be turned off. I actually haven't turned it off as sometimes there is something of mindless interest there. And this is with the free client. I don't pay for AOL.

      They would lose this marketing tool and tracking me to some extent if they share their standard.

      I think if the other im's out there get more of a market share, it would be more likely that all the messenging players start working together.
  • From the minutes of an AOL-TW corporate meeting. "Well we could give our customers something they really want... but screw it... We know other companies will come to us... besides, our stock is doing great!!!" Oh yeah... I work for AOL-TW don't I. (used to be just Time Warner)
  • They dont have to. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by lennywood1 ( 571226 )
    They dont have to interoperate or open the protocol, because in the merger agreement, it was said if they offer "next-gen messaging, such as real time video" then they have to, but AOL has *NO* intention of doing that. IM is now all it's ever going to be, text-based chat. So, cry antitrust all you want, but it's all there in the merger agreement.
  • by acceleriter ( 231439 ) on Thursday July 25, 2002 @08:41AM (#3950527)
    . . . exactly why those of us who are clinging to the AIM servers because "that's where all my friends are" aren't working a little harder to get them to a platform that allows (or at least isn't actively trying to break) other clients, for example Jabber, MSN (even if it is run by the evil empire), or even IRC.

    We (I included) rail against the lockout of alternative clients, and yet continue to depend upon the network that's breaking them.

    I say let's get a little Metcalfe's law going, and as Bill Gates says Microsoft does, start "eating our own dog food."

    • by ZxCv ( 6138 ) on Thursday July 25, 2002 @10:39AM (#3951114) Homepage
      ...exactly why those of us who are clinging to the AIM servers because "that's where all my friends are" aren't working a little harder to get them to a platform that allows (or at least isn't actively trying to break) other clients, for example Jabber, MSN (even if it is run by the evil empire), or even IRC.

      Because it's much easier said than done, that's why. It would be one thing for me to get my mom to switch over to Jabber or MSN if she had never used IM before. But, now that she has a contact list of 25 people? I hardly stand a chance. It's pretty much the same for anyone I know. While I'm sure most people would agree that switching to a more open IM system would be a good idea, most people would also choose having more people available to them over a more "open" solution. Thus, the only hope is to get every single person using AIM to switch at once. Or, something even more radical and amazing, making AIM interoperable with other IM services.
  • by RobinH ( 124750 ) on Thursday July 25, 2002 @08:42AM (#3950533) Homepage
    True interoperability means having servers for rival systems directly communicate with one another.

    It's funny how in the telephone network, the only way to survive is to be completely interoperable, but with instant messaging they're all afraid because it "means having servers for rival systems directly communicate". OMG!

    If you really want interoperability, then support Jabber. [jabber.org]
    • The best thing Jabber can do is to make a server that a moron can install and administrate (they're almost there, I was able to install it).

      Once they do that, you'll start seeing jabber servers available on all types of sites (including weblogs like slashdot).

      The ability for unskilled Joe Webmeister or Jane Blogger to set up a small (25 users) server that interoperates with other Jabber servers will be a great thing. It's certainly a better option for most users than Java-applet chatrooms, and IRC clients.
    • It's funny how in the telephone network, the only way to survive is to be completely interoperable...
      It's not totally seamless in the mobile world: some wireless network operators refuse to accept short text messages addressed to their users from users on other networks. Typically this is across national boundaries and when there's a large imbalance in message flow between a particular pair of providers, so there is a desire for a contract to cross-charge for carrying "foreign" traffic. All very frustrating if you're wanting to use the medium to send alerts to your (signed-up and opted-in) business customers.
  • by swingkid ( 3585 ) on Thursday July 25, 2002 @08:44AM (#3950542)
    ...tell the world that you think a trivial task that others have already done is too difficult for your own employees to do.
    • As far as I know, people haven't already done this. Interoperability, in the sense that's implied, is a lot more than 'make a new client for the existing protocol', which is what all hacked clients are, essentially. They use TOC or Oscar or whatever else is the fad now to talk to the AIM servers on AOL's terms. The idea of interoperability here is to open up the server's so that registered users of, say, MSN Messenger, can send a message to an AIM user, while only having registered as one user account. Routing a message from MSN-client to MSN-server to AOL-server to AIM-client is a nontrivial task.

      • Routing a message from MSN-client to MSN-server to AOL-server to AIM-client is a nontrivial task.
        It wouldn't be nontrivial if AOL were to open up their system to the other players. All you have to do is add one more server into the exchange: MSN-client to MSN-server to "OPEN-IM server" to AOL-server to AIM-client. The "OPEN-IM server" could be operated by AOL, or it could be an app run by each existing provider to translate messages to and from AOL/AIM.

        The only potential conflict I could see is clashing screen names, but if AOL has already handled this problem with regards to Apple, they could handle it again for MSN and Yahoo. And if AOL can do it, Yahoo can do it for MSN users and AOL users, MSN can do it for Yahoo users and AOL users, etc.
        • Avoiding clashing screennames should be simple - add the service to the end of each name (ie slashdotuser@yahoo, notsobright@aol, sellout@msn, etc. This would also give credit (advertising) to the appropriate IM service, make sending e-mails a bit more straightforward, and make it that much easier to make fun of the AIM users...
    • ...tell the programmers in private that it really just means they have less work to do.

  • according to this quote
    Kathy McKiernan, an AOL spokeswoman, said Wednesday that the company thought its resources were better devoted to "alternatives that are available to us now such as the hosted IM relationship with Apple."

    i just hope that i wont need a .MAC account to use it. but after this news i wouldnt be so sure AOL would allow Apple users to use it for free. although this may be another reason apple was "forced" to implement the pay .MAC service

  • Also at the reg. (Score:2, Informative)

    The story is also up at The Register [theregister.co.uk]
  • by BlackMesaResearchFac ( 593320 ) on Thursday July 25, 2002 @08:54AM (#3950595)
    They have the vast majority of the users and are invested in the infrastructure, it shouldn't be a surprise that they are dragging their feet. They have a LOT to lose. And it's something to lose to MS.

    Nobody needs to be reminded of the rival AOL vs. MSN, IE vs. Netscape, yadda yadda.

    AOL probably just wants to prevent their butts from being undercut by MS. The last thing they want to do is invest tons of resources into something and have MS change the ball game on them. Without some sort of standards/agreement they're vulernable and MS knows it.
  • They are just pissed that their dubious records are being investigated, and this is their childish way of sticking their tongue out at the public, press and the SEC.
  • Why don't they simply publish the API and a
    library and be done with it?
    • Why don't they simply publish the API

      They did. It's called the TOC protocol [google.com]. But unfortunately, AOL doesn't really care about the availability of the AIM network's TOC gateway, and when AOL adds a new feature to OSCAR (AIM's primary protocol), it doesn't add the feature to TOC in parallel.

  • for what its worth:
    i would like to share TAC [tmok.com] with everyone. Its a Tcl/Tk based shell script for *nix that allows you to chat with AIM users.
    (why hasn't AOL blocked this?) i love it, small useful, dont need a GUI anymore to send a quick message...

    i dont care so much about interoperability as much as i do about just opening the protocol and stop blocking 3rd party IM clients (like Trillian or TAC - altho tac hasnt been blocked). As long as i have a choice of AIM clients then i'll be happy. If every messaging protocol was open, then programs such as trillian would function more perfectly. plus if the protocol was opened, other servers might popup, and that'd take some of the load off the AOL IM servers. that's my $.02...

  • by zerofoo ( 262795 ) on Thursday July 25, 2002 @09:12AM (#3950678)
    AOL is a dinosaur and their days are numbered. Every person that asks me to hookup their broadband connection, eventually arrives at the conclusion that their connection is always on (no dial up), a web browser can be something other than AOL's terribly cluttered software (Netscape, Opera, IE..etc.), and that their IM software is freely downloadable!

    Inevitably, the broadband customer figures out they don't need to give AOL $10.00/mo just to host their AOL spam.

    Mark my words, as the dial-up market shrinks, so will AOLs market share. AOL should just open up IM, before someone else does it for them.

    • AOL is a dinosaur and their days are numbered.

      IANAAOLer, but...people have been saying this for the past five years, if not longer. What's different this time?
  • I think the biggest problem for AOL would be the difficulty of handling redirection of messages sent to their servers to the other IM servers securely.

    You see, all of their IM protocols are proprietary, and thus they would have to receive a message intended for messenger service, recognize that it's meant for , convert it to 's format, and then redirect it to all while trying to keep their servers running at an economically reasonable peak efficiency with their own messages.

    What really needs to happen is for a general non-proprietary protocol to be developed for IM, and then have all of the IM servers use that. Perhaps this would be a good OS project for people to do (I think I heard someone is already working on it.)

    But, that's probably why it's so hard for them. It's hard to come up with a non-proprietary protocol all by yourself.
  • by clark625 ( 308380 ) <clark625@ya3.14hoo.com minus pi> on Thursday July 25, 2002 @09:20AM (#3950709) Homepage

    Okay, I'm all for other clients being able to instant message around to one another. I like competition. And I love free software (as in speech).

    But I like AIM as it is. Well, rather I like it as it was--before there were alternatives that were allowed to get onto AOL's network. I used to be able to find new buddies easily enough, and when I got a message from someone new it typically was genuine.

    But now, some f*tards as using the AIM system to send out spam-like messages. Is it coming from the rival clients? I don't know. But the one way to identify these bots running is that their profile always states "No Information Provided". This is the type of thing that really puts a strain on AOL's servers, and I can't quite blame them for not wanting to declare a lifetime of open season on their servers.

    Sure, it would be nice if there was a completely interoperable messaging system. But to get this, we might force ourselfs to deal with getting slammed several times a minute by bots running around messaging everyone they can find. I'm just so tired of that, I am more willing to give up the competition. AIM's clients (even the java one) aren't really that bad. They work and do their jobs pretty good. Maybe this is one case where the majority of people would rather have a very closed, controlled community. Better ask mom and gramdpa about this before we go stating that this is completely a bad thing.

    • But now, some f*tards as using the AIM system to send out spam-like messages.
      Uncheck the "Allow people to find me" and "I am available for chat" boxes in the AIM profile, and you won't get any more spam.

      These settings serve absolutely no purpose other than to provide spammers with names via the "Find a Buddy Wizard." (If you're hoping that some lonely hot chick will find you by searching your AIM profile, believe me, it ain't gonna happen ;) You can still maintain your AIM profile while keeping these two options unchecked, just hit "Next" a couple times until the profile editing window comes up. That way the people who know you can view your profile, but people who don't know you (99.9% of such people who'd want to IM you are spammers, the other 0.01% are fat chicks) can't figure out your screen name.

      I've been using AIM since it was released. I have never, ever received an IM spam on AIM thanks to following these guidelines.
    • can't you just have AIM not accept anything from anybody not on your buddy list?
    • Hmm, do you keep your linux boxes secure by not giving them names?

      Keeping the protocol secret won't do much for the spam issue. Even if it were totally locked down spammers would just go back to controlling AIM (through application generated mouse clicks and such) to send spam.
  • by haplo21112 ( 184264 ) <haplo&epithna,com> on Thursday July 25, 2002 @09:24AM (#3950729) Homepage
    I used to use ICQ, and ICQ was good, but then came AIM, and well. most people I knew were on AIM. So thats the way I had to go it wasn't fair of me to ask my non technical friends to use my system, and then have to deal with more than one client. AOL is the 800-pound Gorilla of IM these days. Non-interoperation is also a business matter for them. Their control of the client is important to them because of that little window on the top of the client...they get advertising dollars for that little window. How can they insure in an inter-operational cleint that window is appearing? Suppose that they allowed inter operation large scale, and someone had a client (ignoring for the moment the ones that do exist already) that has a slicker interface and is more fuctional than theirs. We all move to that client, using their network, but not displaying the ads they are getting paid to display...? Its a business problem folks. They might be a big company, but someone has to pay them in some way to operate their FREE service. Perhaps if the alterate interfaces would be willing to make sure they display those add windows properly..? But still what assurances would they really have that this is actually happening?
  • Nope. AOL Time Warner are having their accounting practices investigated by the Securities and Exchanges Commission.
    A BBC News [bbc.co.uk] article says:-
    The investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is in response to allegations in the Washington Post that the firm boosted online advertisement revenue through a series of "unconventional" deals between 2000 and 2002.
    That means there is no proof that AOL has been involved in the same sort of accounting deceptions that brought down Enron and WorldCom.
    But such a fact-finding investigation was the first step that unravelled those firms.
  • All you need to know is AIM+ [big-o-software.com]! Lots of cool new features, but uses the AIM binaries so they can't block it too easily :)
  • I want to be able to read slashdot stories and post slashdot articles on kuro5hin. Why can't the FTC step in and force slashdot to do that?

    What's that? Slashdot would lose ad revenue? Isn't that the same thing AOL is saying?

  • You think working with AOL's IM is a good thing? Check out this abomination! [apple.com]
  • Interoperability between the relatively simplistic IM protocols out there is bleeding easy. Heck, there is even a Blizzard battle.net to AIM gateway [sourceforge.net] that has yet to release files, but I know for a fact works (just has a couple womping security holes keeping me from releasing files until I get a spare weekend or two).


  • What's happening now give me flashbacks to the days of proprietary Email systems. No one system could talk to anyone else's with out some "gateway" to allow it. All the vendors pointed fingers at the other vendors, it was a horrible mess. Then SMTP/IMAP/POP came to the rescue. The problem today is that AOL is so intreanched in the IM world that the open system(Jabber) is going to have a difficult time becoming the "Standard" as SMTP/IMAP/POP did.
    How are we going to move away from AOL? I'm not sure, but as for me, I've made the hard choice and stopped using AIM even though I've lost IM contact to my friends that I can't convince to use Jabber.
  • thoughts... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Marc2k ( 221814 )
    McKiernan said that "true interoperability" would be like e-mail, in which you wouldn't have to be on the same service as another person to send that fellow an IM.

    Well, the current level of "service interoperability" we enjoy in email is only available to us because POP3,IMAP, and SMTP are *published* and *open* standards. Yahoo doesn't block rogue email bandits who figure out how to send email to their users from their own SMTP server or home-brewed email client.

    McKiernan said that this is a technologically difficult task, but that "no company has done more than ours" to meet that goal.

    Uhh...not exactly. Sure, they released the ToC protocol, but in terms of "work" towards that end, it's pretty simple. If you release your protocol, the OS world will do the rest. The bottom line is that they don't _want_ interoperability. If they did, they would release their work and allow others to try and crack the "problem", instead of questionably working on an answer behind closed doors and concluding it infeasible.
  • As far as I can see the only reason to have AOL interoperate, is so MS can kill off all the other chat clients. With MSN Messenger installed on every new copy of windows (whether you want it or not -- you can't even get rid of it), if MSN users could talk to AIM users, why would anyone bother downloading AIM? In a couple years of "wonderful interoperation", leading to no one using AOL's (or anyone else's) client, Microsoft would suddenly find a reason to no longer be interoperable. Now AOL is dead, yahoo is dead, all of the other networks are dead, because MSN has 99% of the userbase, and the other 1% can't talk to them.

    Better to let AOL keep the 99% userbase than to give it to Microsoft. That's the real choice here when you say "interoperate". You know Microsoft has no interest whatsoever in "helping people communicate". They just want to steal AIM users from their monopoly position.

"I shall expect a chemical cure for psychopathic behavior by 10 A.M. tomorrow, or I'll have your guts for spaghetti." -- a comic panel by Cotham