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Communications The Internet

Yahoo and Microsoft to Merge Instant Messengers 424

Primotech writes "Betanews has word that Microsoft and Yahoo plan to link their respective IM clients again so that users of both can communicate with each other on one, shared network. Facing threats from third-party applications, like Trillian and Skype, the two tech giants will claim 44% of the instant messaging market, analysts predict. They will also go head to head together with the biggest competitor, AOL."
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Yahoo and Microsoft to Merge Instant Messengers

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  • by neiffer ( 698776 ) on Tuesday October 11, 2005 @11:10PM (#13770990) Homepage
    That's interesting, since they have waffled back and forth on the issue of compatibility with other messenger systems. First they complained because they didn't have access to AOL. Then they closed their systems and didn't let others in. Now they are sharing again...does this mean they will grant access to their closed network to all outside clients? Hmmmmmm?
    • Of course not. Yes MS is changing course, but not that much.

      Anyway, if you want to see how the protocol works, just open up the gaim plugin's source code. Problem solved.
    • I seem to remember something about the FCC making interoperability a requirement for AOL based on some agreement many years ago. Of course they never did anything about it. The MS/Yahoo news isn't about opening up the system it's consolodation.

      Thank god these companies were not involved in the early development of the internet or... well we just wouldn't have an "internet". We'd have a collection of online fiefdoms that were as useful and innovative as Microsoft Bob.
      • Actually, AOL did do something about it. They opened up the TOC AIM protocol. It has less features and is generally kind of buggier. But they did "open up" in some sense.
    • This is interesting, but Microsoft's Office Communicator http://www.microsoft.com/office/livecomm/communica tor/prodinfo/overview.mspx [microsoft.com] has supported connecting to MSN, Yahoo & AOL IM for a year or so now.
      • Conduct IM conversations securely with customers and partners from one client whether they use Live Communications Server or a public IM client like AOL, MSN, or Yahoo!.
      • by Jaruzel ( 804522 ) on Wednesday October 12, 2005 @04:12AM (#13771865) Homepage Journal
        Yes, but Live Communicator isn't a consumer product, it's specifically designed for Corporates, where the problem of interoperability is a BIG issue.

        Live Communicator (the IM client) needs Live Communicator Server, plus Active Directory, with either Exchange, or a Schema change to the AD.

        Live Communicator Server is the gateway to the external IM networks - the client has no ability to connect to Yahoo!/AIM/ICQ directly.

        It's a huge undertaking for a Corporate to install it, and most Corporates are wary of IM in the first instance, and feel the benefits are not yet clear (I don't agree with this, being a Business Chat/IM evangelist).

        Sorry, to waffle on, but just wanted to nip the 'Live Communicator does this already' argument in the bud.

        -Jar.
  • Amazing (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dxprog ( 898953 ) on Tuesday October 11, 2005 @11:10PM (#13770993)
    Could this be a step towards a single IM protocol? Not XMPP, but good enough for me :-)
  • One Word Gaim (Score:4, Informative)

    by SerpentDrago ( 703376 ) * on Tuesday October 11, 2005 @11:10PM (#13770997)
    I could care less , whatever network things use , its all Transparent to me cause i use Gaim
    • Coming soon to Gaim (Score:5, Informative)

      by tqft ( 619476 ) <ianburrows_au@yaho o . c om> on Tuesday October 11, 2005 @11:14PM (#13771017) Homepage Journal

      http://gaim-vv.sourceforge.net/ [sourceforge.net]
      LATEST NEWS:
      Oct 07, 2005 - Forward potr of gaim-vv 1.2.0 to gaim cvs head is working. I would like to clarify that gaim-vv isn't completely dead, we're working on merging with gaim. There will be no further gaim-vv releases, as code will be added to the main gaim program.

      For those who don't know gaim-vv was a friendly fork to get stuff like webcams working - last release allowed users to view webcams from MSN, yahoo
    • Re:One Word Gaim (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Seumas ( 6865 ) on Tuesday October 11, 2005 @11:29PM (#13771084)
      its all Transparent to me cause i use Gaim

      But, it's not.

      Going to Yahoo!, creating an account, dealing with their spam emails and offers all the time in the future and then logging into Yahoo! with that special Yahoo! account is not transparent whatsoever. And not enough people use Yahoo! to justify creating a special account just to talk to them.

      Yahoo! probably realized this and gave up the ship.
      • Re:One Word Gaim (Score:3, Informative)

        I have a Yahoo account, and I've never received spam from Yahoo.

        The other steps you mention (creating an account and having to log in) are standard for any service. How is Yahoo different?
      • Re:One Word Gaim (Score:3, Interesting)

        by DavidD_CA ( 750156 )
        When you set up a Yahoo! account for IM, you can give them a "spammy" email account that you only check whenever you need to supply an email address for something.

        I did that when I linked my Trillian into Yahoo! and it's worked great. Except for very recently when Yahoo upgraded it's file sharing and now Trillian needs to play catch-up or something.
      • You'd be surprised (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Trejkaz ( 615352 ) on Wednesday October 12, 2005 @01:16AM (#13771436) Homepage

        Recent usage statistics actually look a bit like this:

        • AOL (sum of ICQ, AIM and AOLIM) = 41.6 million
        • Yahoo = 19.1 million
        • MSN = 14.1 million

        Of course, there is also Jabber which was 10 million at last count which was a couple of years ago but more than likely growing. There is also QQ messenger, which supposedly has over 100 million users, but every news story like this conveniently ignores.

        • I live in the UK and 90% of all my friends use MSN. Thats friends from home, friends from uni and friends I've met on the net.

          As far as I know, MSN is more popular in Europe and AIM/Yahoo more popular in the states

    • I could care less ...

      So you are saying that although you use Gaim exclusivly, you still care about the MSN / Yahoo situation? Please explaine...

    • Re:One Word Gaim (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Frogbert ( 589961 )
      I could care less
      So your saying you do care?
    • Re:One Word Gaim (Score:3, Interesting)

      I can't understand why Americans say "I could care less" - the sentence makes no sense... what does it mean? I could care less if I tried? If I wanted to? It always seems to be used in the context of "I could NOT care less" or, "It doesn't bother me", "I'm not interested." It means the exact opposite though! Are you just too lazy to type the extra 3 characters? (n't)?

      Any there American Etymologists around who can explain this?
      • Re:One Word Gaim (Score:3, Informative)

        Have a look about half way down this page

        http://www.word-detective.com/061405.html [word-detective.com]

        Basically, the sarcasm that the "could care less" form uses, implies the missing negative - probably shouldn't be used online given sarcasm is harder to do in written text.

      • Re:One Word Gaim (Score:5, Informative)

        by lav-chan ( 815252 ) on Wednesday October 12, 2005 @02:47AM (#13771657)

        The phrase supposedly started in America a few decades ago, but it's spread to the rest of the world by now. The etymology isn't entirely clear (some people think it could've been intended to be sarcastic, or that it was misread in print), but it's probably the simplest one -- it's the same reason people say 'case and point' and 'for all intensive purposes' and 'supposively'. People say it so often that eventually some of them become ignorant of the actual meaning and just repeat it however.

        I don't think most people actually intend to say it incorrectly but, in my experience, they also refuse to change when they are told that it's wrong. I guess they just... couldn't... care less....

        • Idiots. (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Kadin2048 ( 468275 )

          it's the same reason people say 'case and point' and 'for all intensive purposes' and 'supposively'

          Yes, because they are idiots.

          Seriously, just because a bunch of people do something, doesn't make it acceptable or even defensible if you want to be taken seriously.

          Any of the examples that you mentioned would be unacceptable for an 8th grader; any adult who uses them ought to be subject to whatever amount of public ridicule is required to keep them from doing it again.

      • Is this the worlds first example of a British person not understanding
        American sarcasm?

        I knew our education system was getting worse but...
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 12, 2005 @02:48AM (#13771663)
      you couldn't care less

      COULDN'T CARE LESS

      Godamn it. I hope you fall down some stairs.
  • AIM (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    When are they going to integrate with AIM?
  • Trillian? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by USSJoin ( 896766 ) on Tuesday October 11, 2005 @11:12PM (#13771006) Homepage
    Trillian isn't its own protocol, of course. This is what is somewhat odd about the article: it can't decide whether it's talking about the networks (MSN and YIM combining protocols and having interoperability) or whether they're jointly developing a multi-protocol client (like Trillian, although Trillian does a lot more than just those two).
    • Speaking of implementing multi-protocol clients...

      How long until Google implements Jabber's nice transport features in Google Talk? This would allow people to use Google Talk to IM their MSN, Yahoo, ICQ and AIM buddies. While they would still have to have an account with each service, at least the client would be centralized, and to most people, that's the same thing as having one account. Google would gain huge market share (even though people are still using other protocols), and it would basically cos
      • by Baloo Ursidae ( 29355 ) <dead@address.com> on Wednesday October 12, 2005 @12:26AM (#13771302) Journal
        MSN, Yahoo, ICQ and AIM buddies

        Disclaimer: I run the ursine.ca Jabber server.

        The yahoo transport sucks donkeyballs. It's unreliable and crashes for no reason, usually while I'm trying to get other work done. As evil as Microsoft typically is, they're doing us a favor: Now Jabber only has to maintain two or three transports and none of them involving some bletcherous hack from jabberd's transports if you're using the otherwise far easier to deal with ejabberd. Microsoft has to have their way, so you can pretty much kiss the YIM protocol good bye and everybody with a YIM ID suddenly having @yahoo.com Passports instead, and good riddance. Now there's only two proprietary protocols left: Oscar (AIM/ICQ) and MSN.

        The 80 gajillion Google fanboys are suddenly able to access the rest of the IM landscape that isn't stuck in the last millennium with their Google Talk JID. Google users and the rest of the Jabber network rejoice, AOL shits itself seeing headlights coming from both directions.

        Microsoft and Time Warner are going to strike a deal that will be kind of like AOL announcing that October 1993 would effectively follow January 2005 [ursine.ca] on the Usenet [ursine.ca] calendar. Except instead of AOL continuing to exist, Time Warner flushes AOL like an unwanted fetus on prom night, selling it out to Microsoft. Microsoft has to have their way, so you can pretty much kiss the Oscar protocol goodbye. Everybody with AIM IDs suddenly get @aim.com passports. Everybody at ICQ gets @icq.com passports.

        And then there was one. MSN Messenger fights to the bitter death, losing mindshare bit by bit until 10 years from now, Microsoft's holding an empty bag and wondering how the hell they missed the boat on IM. Everybody loves Google, and many will switch to Google Talk on basis of name recognition alone. Thank God that they don't abuse that power.

        (And in other news, the Portland Winterhawks probably won't make the playoffs this year. Again. Dammit.)

    • Re:Trillian? (Score:5, Informative)

      by urlgrey ( 798089 ) * on Wednesday October 12, 2005 @12:21AM (#13771280) Homepage
      Ya know... I used to use the MSN Messenger client exclusively, then because of a need to communicate with one person who used Yahoo!, I tried Trillian. HOLY HECK.

      With the choice of skins and what not, what a relief. For me the MSN interface has just become this weirdly bloated thing.

      Trillian though... what a great piece of software IMHO. And best of all (unlike Messenger), it doesn't create those competely bogus hooks into OE that prevent you from closing the app because it's dependent on the other. Bah.

      • Re:Trillian? (Score:3, Insightful)

        by lustforlike ( 867068 )
        MSN Messenger's interface might look bloated, but the program is a lot more streamlined than any of the others. I can't speak for others, but on my machine it uses under 10MB of RAM - the others I've tried, Trillian, Gaim and Yahoo! Messenger, use over 20MB. I've also discovered that the completely bogus hooks into OE magically go away when you start using a real email client.
      • Re:Trillian? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by labratuk ( 204918 ) on Wednesday October 12, 2005 @09:12AM (#13772913)
        With the choice of skins and what not, what a relief. For me the MSN interface has just become this weirdly bloated thing.

        This line is full of hilarious irony.
  • Common enemy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gmuslera ( 3436 ) on Tuesday October 11, 2005 @11:12PM (#13771008) Homepage Journal
    More than Trillian, Skype and others, i bet that they are more against their common foe, Google/Gmail/GTalk/etc. Maybe against each separate component they can have a chance, but when you start to combine them the potential for growing and taking away their markets is probably too big.
  • Good (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Solr_Flare ( 844465 ) on Tuesday October 11, 2005 @11:12PM (#13771009)
    Normally stuff like this from MS makes me shudder with dread. But the lack of a standard communication IM protocal has driven me crazy for years. Trillian and other programs are ways to get around that, of course. But, having a single standard would go a long way, and this is a nice step towards that.

    Compete in features you offer in your IM clients, but for heavens sake unify the networks.
    • Re:Good (Score:5, Informative)

      by aussie_a ( 778472 ) on Tuesday October 11, 2005 @11:35PM (#13771102) Journal
      Compete in features you offer in your IM clients, but for heavens sake unify the networks.

      That's a good point, but there's a problem. Microsoft and Yahoo aren't going to agree upon an open standard for their merged IM protocol (assuming it is a merged protocol they're talking about and not a trillian-type deal). They will then use their closed protocol to work on shutting out non-Microsoft-Yahoo approved clients (i.e. every other client not made by the two companies). If everyone agreed to only use one IM protocol, then it's going to have to be a closed standard because (based on past performance), Microsoft isn't willing to agree on an open standard, at least not for it's IM program. They will be able to use that to make it more difficult for the competition, the only competition they'll allow are Microsoft approved(TM) competitors (yup, if Microsoft has control of the standard they'll be able to decide who compete's with them) and keep changing the protocol in an attempt to lock-out non-approved competitors. And Microsoft's dislike for the GPL ensures they won't approve any GPL clients to use their protocol.

      In the past both Yahoo and Microsoft have shown a habit of locking out third party clients, so this combination makes sense for them.

      If Microsoft and Yahoo and everyone else were willing to agree on an open standard for IM communication, then that would be great and I'd whole heartedly support it. I just can't see Microsoft doing that anytime soon.
      • Even if microsoft did agree to do it this week, you know once they had the market share they would shift away from it next week. Their agreement with yahoo is just an indication they are loosing market share in the instant messaging world and are trying to regain some by temporarily sharing with yahoo. This also brings to light at least in part some of what they were likely to be negotiating with time warner (AOL). Grim vistas in deed for microsoft, going around hat in hand to any company that will listen.
    • by Reality Master 201 ( 578873 ) on Tuesday October 11, 2005 @11:45PM (#13771138) Journal
      Like Jabber? XMPP is an open specification IM protocol with support for all kinds of neat features (encryption, for one, network bridging for another). The problem isn't in having a protocol, but in convincing everyone to use it and support it. (Yeah, I know, the spec was only finalized more recently than the MSN and Yahoo! networks were created. The point stands, though.)
  • Good news (Score:5, Interesting)

    by reiggin ( 646111 ) on Tuesday October 11, 2005 @11:14PM (#13771018)
    I have no buddies on MSN. Most are on either AIM or Yahoo. But I hate the fact that Yahoo seems to not want to develop for Mac OS X anymore. The Mac MSN client is pretty darn good, though, so it would be great to be able to use the MSN client to chat with my Yahoo buddies.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      This may also lead to an official MSN Messenger client for Linux (Yahoo already has an official Linux client for a while). This will be good news indeed, since that means things like MSN audio chat will be available for Linux users.
    • Download Adium. (Score:5, Informative)

      by Inoshiro ( 71693 ) on Tuesday October 11, 2005 @11:29PM (#13771082) Homepage
      It's a version of the GAIM source designed to work within the framework of MacOSX. It will integrate with your address book, supports MSN/Yahoo/ICQ/Bonjour/AIM, and is generally pretty darn spiffy.

      I haven't had any of the problems I've had with other clients. It's the closest I've come to Kopete on MacOSX, plus it has some of the problems of Kopete fixed.
      • Biggest problem with adium and other os x clients is their lousy webcam and audio support. A nice feature of yahoo messenger on windows is the fact that you can start an audio conference and have many people using mic's and cams to talk together. You can do this with ichat if all your friends have macs and isights, but yahoo's setup is much more flexible - allowing one person to have up to 30 viewers on the cam, and allowing a conference full of people to take turns talking on mic.
    • Re:Good news (Score:4, Informative)

      by Phroggy ( 441 ) * <slashdot3@ p h r o g g y.com> on Tuesday October 11, 2005 @11:51PM (#13771161) Homepage
      But I hate the fact that Yahoo seems to not want to develop for Mac OS X anymore.

      I spoke to an engineer from Yahoo a couple months ago and asked him about that. He couldn't give me any details, but did say that despite appearances Yahoo is actually very interested in the Mac platform, and that this is the reason they acquired Konfabulator - they weren't interested in the software, they just wanted to hire Mac developers to work on exactly this sort of thing.
      • I certainly hope that's the case - I gave my Launchcast subscription the heave-ho after getting fed up with only being able to use it at work or on only one of three machines that see regular use at home, and the one it works on is an XP/Linux dual boot box, so even there Launchcast was usually unavailable. If they supported OS X, I'd have bought two subscriptions - one for myself and one for my wife to use with her iBook. As it is, they get nothing.

        OS X has been out for five years now, so I think Yahoo
    • There are plenty of third party clients, like Adium mentioned previously or Fire [sf.net]. When the official messenger client, for the given messenger system, on your platform only supports text chat, then you have nothing to lose by going with multi-messenger client.
    • "I have no buddies on MSN."

      Unfortunately, I have two: my mother and my father. It's easier to walk them through the process of making a remote assistance request from there.

      I've got a few people on my Y!IM account, but I haven't been on in months and months anyway. Might be worth running into some of them again.
  • by ReformedExCon ( 897248 ) <reformed.excon@gmail.com> on Tuesday October 11, 2005 @11:15PM (#13771020)
    There isn't much money to be made in instant messengers. Maybe a little revenue from advertising in the window corners, maybe a few bucks from premium games, but in all it's mostly a net loss. And you also have the problem that your users may be drawn away from your IM client to another one because of an established group of friends with the other one.

    Bringing these two IM clients into compatibility isn't a way to make a stronger IM network, but rather to eliminate the drain that both companies must be feeling. It also helps that it marginalizes AIM and its premium services, which benefits both Yahoo and Microsoft.

    I always thought Microsoft would get around to doing this one day. It just seemed the logical next step. Hopefully their next next step will be the ability to have different statuses for specific people in your contact list, and be able to contact people even though you appear offline. Back in the day (get off my lawn, you crazy kids) ICQ had this feature, but since ICQ has been dragged down into a hole by AOL, it's been on my IM wishlist.
    • What makes you think that they aren't making money from their IM services?

      It seems pretty obvious to me that the main reason these companies offer these services is to attract people to more of their services. Have you looked at Yahoo Messenger lately? It's filled with links and features to various Yahoo services. Same with MSN and AOL messengers. They give you links up the ass to basically everything that their company offers.

      Additionally, many people on Yahoo, MSN, and AOL messengers often use that compan
  • by shma ( 863063 ) on Tuesday October 11, 2005 @11:15PM (#13771022)

    Microsoft and Yahoo are set to announce on Wednesday a blockbuster interoperability deal that will reshape the landscape of the fragmented instant messaging market.

    I can't wait to message all my friends with gaim to tell them the good news.
  • blah... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by evil_marty ( 855218 ) on Tuesday October 11, 2005 @11:15PM (#13771024)
    This is gonna put alot of pressure on Google and Jabber. I mean Google just entered the market, with MSN and Yahoo and Possibly AIM, there wont be a need for a new contender. I dont think its bad coz that will bring more ppl close together and save installed 100s of IM apps just to talk to all your friends. I do wonder how they will connect them all and whether you will use screennames or e-mail address or whatever.
  • Typo (Score:5, Funny)

    by Ohreally_factor ( 593551 ) on Tuesday October 11, 2005 @11:17PM (#13771030) Journal
    I can't believe the editors let this one slip by. Yahoo and MS exchanging massages is big news. Maybe MS will finally get laid.
  • by melquiades ( 314628 ) on Tuesday October 11, 2005 @11:18PM (#13771034) Homepage
    mess-an-ger [from MESS + ANGER]: The emotional state induced by using any of a series of software products suffering from feature bloat, as typified by Microsoft Word. An "instant messanger" is a piece of software so obnoxious to the user that it induces rage immediately on contact.
    And I'll bet you all just thought that Slashdot's editors don't spell check the articles! Silly readers.
  • Google IM project (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MavEtJu ( 241979 ) <slashdot@@@mavetju...org> on Tuesday October 11, 2005 @11:22PM (#13771052) Homepage
    Do the Google IM servers already know how to talk to other Jabber servers or is it still an open protocol in a closed environment?
    • Is there any significant use of the Google IM product? What are the stats? It was in the news, and than POOF! It was gone.
    • Re:Google IM project (Score:5, Informative)

      by strider44 ( 650833 ) on Wednesday October 12, 2005 @12:15AM (#13771257)
      At the moment you need to get permission from them first to interoperate (federate) with their server. According to the developer faq [google.com]:

      4. What other communication services will you federate with?

      We plan to support open server-to-server federation. We do believe, however, that it is important to have the safeguards in place to ensure that we maintain a safe and reliable service that protects user privacy and blocks spam and other abuses. We are using the federation opportunity with EarthLink, Sipphone and other partners to develop a set of best practices by which all members of the federated network can work together to ensure that we protect our users while maximizing the reach of the network. We are also eager to hear from other people in the industry about how best to build a federation model that is open, scalable, and ensures best-in-class user experiences. If you have thoughts on federation or suggestions for how we can better enable open communications, please share them with us at the Google Talk Interoperability Google Group.

      5. I am a communications service provider and want to federate with the Google Talk service. How do I proceed?

      Please contact us at federation@google.com.
  • The Microsoft-AOL talks? I mean, weren't they in some sort of limited merger discussions? And wasn't Google competing with MS for AOL? I mean, if there were to be MS-AOL collaboration anywhere, shouldn't one of the areas be IM? Or is MS trying to push Google and AOL together?

    Could this lead to a total takeover of Yahoo by MS? I mean, they start with the IM service, then merge the email client somehow, then the next thing you know, the search stuff. Is this MS's reaction to a company they can't buy ou
  • by GiorgioG ( 225675 ) on Tuesday October 11, 2005 @11:26PM (#13771067) Homepage
    make this type of stuff completely irrelevent for techies anyway.

    I own a copy of Trillian 3.1 Pro and I can say that it's the best thing since sliced bread ;-)
  • I hope when they merge code, they keep Yahoo's voice system which I've found to be easier to make connections with, and MSN's video, as Yahoo's video system crashes my Windows XP system. It hangs Y! Messenger and it won't End Task even.
    • Yahoo's webcam support isn't stable on Mac OS X either (or perhaps it's the macam drivers that aren't stable, I'm not entirely sure), but it's the only IM client I've found that actually works cross-platform for video. Of course they haven't released a new version in over two years, and that was only a minor update....
  • by liangzai ( 837960 ) on Tuesday October 11, 2005 @11:35PM (#13771103) Homepage
    Is that the _domestic_ market?

    Since what I see here in China, who has the second largest internet user population in the world after the USA, the vast majority uses QQ, which is basically ICQ adapted to a full-fledged Chinese client (all Western IMs have questionable language support and transparency).
  • There is chat, and then there is chat in a specific context. MSN is fine for chatting with my co-workers, but Yahoo is better for chatting if I am trying get a date. There is no one-purpose-serves-all protocal.. sorry. Bad Idea... I can't wait to see what picks up the slack.
  • by Admiral Burrito ( 11807 ) on Tuesday October 11, 2005 @11:53PM (#13771170)

    If they can get AOL in on this too, it could be very bad.

    Everyone being able to talk to everyone else would be nice, but there are big downsides if it's a closed network. If it ends up that 9X% of users are on a single A/M/Y-IM network then it would be very hard for anyone else to break into the market.

    Google is in very direct competition with Yahoo, and Microsoft sees Google as the biggest threat to their dominance. Now, a couple of months after GTalk's release, Yahoo and MS are ganging together. They aren't doing this because they want their users to benefit (if they really cared they would've done this a long time ago). This is MS and Yahoo trying to keep Google from gaining a foothold in IM.

    I really hope Jabber will take off, but this move makes it less likely. With everyone split up over AIM, MSN and Yahoo, Jabber could at least offer a means of unification. Now it's looking like we could get stuck with a single closed network.

    If a handful of players lock up the network, innovation will die.

  • by cgenman ( 325138 ) on Tuesday October 11, 2005 @11:54PM (#13771171) Homepage
    A brief and largely incorrect summary of the current state of things:

    MS Messenger: Ships standard on all Windows PC's. Pops up every five minutes asking you if you would like to sign up for service. Causes your computer to explode if you try to uninstall it, or indeed just try to get it to shut up. The fact that this still isn't the #1 instant messaging client should tell you something. I have the most luck with voice chat through firewalls on Messenger.

    Aim: Comes automatically with AOL, or you can download it free from aol.com. Also comes free with LOTS and LOTS of ads. Ads pop up on your screen. Ads are built into your client. Smart a$$ movie executives send you ads directly. Sex chatbots try to lure you into filthyness before posting the transcript on Fark. Everyone's personal icon is loud, animated, and obnoxious. In short, AIM is a lot like the internet. And like the internet, nearly everyone uses AIM.

    ICQ: Still the greatest communications medium of all time. Really. Greatest ever. (There, I said what you wanted Mr. 3098014563. Now give me my family back, like in the deal.)

    Yahoo: No really, Yahoo has a chat medium. I was shocked too. Isn't Yahoo just adorable sometimes? On a side note, I've had better luck getting webcams through firewalls over Yahoo. This leads to great situations where I'm videoconferencing with someone over Yahoo, but the audio stream is in MSN and the chat is happening in Jabber.

    Google Chat: Google chat is based on Jabber, the open source next-generation world dominating chat protocol of the fut-- hey, why are you laughing? No seriously, Jabber, which can communicate with AIM and MSN through... Yes it says so on the box. No, I don't care if almost never works. Ok, fine, Jabber, which can sometimes communicate with AIM and MSN through server-side plug ins, is the basis for Google Chat. Unlike all of the other protocols Jabber is an encrypted medium, meaning that even the server doesn't know what is being said. psi [affinix.com] is the jabber client of choice, though there are a lot out there. It's also the only reason to buy Trillian Pro. What was that about Google Chat again?

    Now if I remember correctly, AIM, as a condition of its merger with Time Warner was required to open its chat network to everyone. It then proceeded to shut out all 3rd party clients and other protocols that had the nerve to try and connect with it. MSN tried to connect to AOL without permission, but kept refusing 3rd party clients that tried to connect to it. We thought Yahoo was shutting out 3rd party clients as well, but it turns out they just broke their system a few times. Oops. Jabber will sleep with anyone, and Jabber servers will sleep with other Jabber servers. Jabber servers will even sleep with AOL and MSN, but only if they're really happy or really drunk. ICQ... I refuse to say anything about ICQ on the grounds that ICQ users are even more insane than Apple users.

    All of this is very close to e-mail, circa 1992... Back when AOL, Compuserve, and all of the rest of the providers thought that locking their users into their system would keep the most people. Then AOL bought them all, and the whole thing seemed kind of moot.

  • by Midnight Thunder ( 17205 ) on Tuesday October 11, 2005 @11:56PM (#13771182) Homepage Journal
    As long as we can all communicate and don't have to pay to do so, then I really can't see too much of an issue with this.

    What I would like to see is active adoption of Jabber by the big players. Jabber for the most part is still like Ogg Vorbis: "interesting, but who's using it?". Google using it is certainly helping push its adoption, but at this point in time I haven't heard of any ISPs, or Fortune 500 companies, actively taking it up and connecting. Apple has also chipped into the effort, by providing a Jabber server as part of MacOS X, but how long before we see that rub off I am not sure.

    Voice chat and video chat are the next two aspects that need to become part of the Jabber portfolio and adopted.

    Looking at the road ahead voice chat is going to be migrate into telephony, but before it does certain things must happen first. Telephony needs to support emergency services, until then players like Google will state 'this is not a telephony service', in order to avoid FTC type regulations. The steps I see are:

    • building a large 'voice chat' network, with no single player controlling all the communications
    • working out a way for nodes to identified geographically. Remember the geographical identification should be controlled by the user, so that they can decide when to advertise their location
    • incorporate emergency service support
    • Declare that yes the are now indeed a telephony servce

    We can't predict what the future will hold, but we can influence the journey getting there.

  • Yahoo will never be able to go independent again.

    If they tried, too few would stay on their side of the divide. Microsoft is too predatory this way; looks like a coy maneuver to get Yahoo out of the way of MSN messenger. Maybe Yahoo thought that their messanger was doomed anyway and Redmond made it worth their while?

  • ... MSN Messenger will gain offline messages and the ability to logon in invisible mode? Two features of Yahoo Messenger I find extremely useful. The only reason I use MSN Messenger is because it seems standard at the office. I have to keep my status set to away though to make it easier to screen my messages and to avoid the dreaded "hey dude" and "waaaasup" messages one seems to get as soon as one's status goes to available. The interruptions caused by IM can be so bloody annoying, but Yahoo makes them
  • Wow, just what we need now days. I realize that it was popular in the past, but really... we have VOIP and did that like 3 or 4 years ago, so whats the great deal about IM? (at least for me it sucks) I generally gab with my bro via a cell phone and there ya go. Painless, free (if you have a decent plan) and that's about it.
  • by BortQ ( 468164 )
    This will change nothing for me. I will still be using Adium to connect to all the networks and avoid reliance on any one system.

    These guys don't seem to get it, or they don't want to. A standardized 'open' IM system (similar to how email is open and standardized) would explode the IM possibilities. It doesn't matter how big your network is, if it's centralized and controlled by one company then certain users will never use it.

    An open, de-centralized IM network where anyone can run their own identity no

  • ...and so did a few others. Remember all the footsie with AOL in weeks past? Methinks the price for merging AIM might have been a tad high, so they've gone the other route with yahoo. The point of all this isn't to attack AOL, it's Google they're worried about. They've no doubt settled on a no-compete deal with AOL, so it's a sort-off united front.
  • by Mr.Progressive ( 812475 ) on Wednesday October 12, 2005 @12:13AM (#13771248)
    Just so you know, Drunkenbatman [drunkenblog.com] had this pegged.

    Within the last few weeks, there appears to have been a meeting between MSN, Yahoo and AOL. They'd all been talking amongst themselves -- and sparsely with each other -- about how to respond to Google, but were still trying to make up their minds...

    The Cow Abides
  • by Proc6 ( 518858 ) on Wednesday October 12, 2005 @12:30AM (#13771317)
    Double Your Privacy Invasion, Permanent Chat Logging, User Profiling and Targetted Marketing for the Same Low Price!

    Hurry, While Supplies Last!

  • 44% of the instant messaging market

    Typical microsoftish pr talk, one of those that makes me puke this time early in the morning. My point is that e.g. among all my friends and other people I know only quite a limited number of them uses yahoo's or microsoft's im applications for messaging. Even if they have msn and/or yahoo ids. Quite a lot of people (fortunately) know alternative, lightveight, less obtrusive, nicer, faster, etc. applications which they can use instead, and quite a lot of them support ma
  • ..through yahoo.

    So even if gaim can't access msn directly [sourceforge.net] it will work through yahoo.
  • Namespacing (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Trejkaz ( 615352 ) on Wednesday October 12, 2005 @01:53AM (#13771530) Homepage

    I wonder what they'll do about user IDs for transporting between the two services. What I mean is, from MSN's side, you want to add a Yahoo user, say he's called "Bob" on Yahoo.

    Maybe they'll let you add him just as "Bob" on MSN, which would be a significant problem for MSN because they assume that all IDs are emails for various purposes.

    They can't let you add him as "bob@yahoo.com", because Bob might actually be using that Yahoo email address as his username on MSN.

    Maybe they'll have to go about it to the extreme and add to both the IDs. So you would add Bob as "bob@Yahoo", but you would add your fellow MSN contact as "jane@example.com@MSN".

  • by Khyber ( 864651 ) <techkitsune@gmail.com> on Wednesday October 12, 2005 @03:43AM (#13771795) Homepage Journal
    Or at the very least, fix your webcams streaming and audio, guys. Audio's generally fine (minus Yahoo's sudden stopping if it detects a period of constant volume level, so sometimes I'm playing my guitar with hands-free on and the damned program stops streaming my audio,) but when I want to videochat with my mother, I don't want super mode dropping out on me, suddenly, without any reason or cause, and we both know we've touched nothing that would make it stop.

    MSN fares no better with it's astonishingly fast 3-6 fps. Screw that. Camfrog [camfrog.com] does this better. IM, voice, video, and even has some pretty awesome video chat rooms. It's good enough for deaf people to speak using sign language on cam. Does that tell you how good it is? You two should strive to be more like that program, Yahoo and Microsoft. It's small, (compared to Yahoo's 10 meg install size and MSN's 11.5 meg install,) it's fast, and it WORKS. Camfrog's only downside is it's 2k/XP only, though I understand there may be an OSX version in development.

    MSN's audio sucks even more. MSN needs to be like Yahoo, and add a PUSH TO TALK BUTTON. Nothing is more annoying than feedback in my headphones, thanks to my Logitech's mic/webcam combo (quickcam messenger) having an uber-sensitive microphone. It's almost at it's lowest possible level and it's still getting feedback off of my headphones, with me sitting about 4 feet from the microphone.

    Can we fix our programs first, guys?
  • by digitaldc ( 879047 ) on Wednesday October 12, 2005 @06:49AM (#13772168)
    Trillian works because of its simplicity, these companies need a standard IM protocol and then let the best interface win!
    I prefer the stripped down versions like 'DeadAim' where only the most basic features work. I have no need for stock updates, sports scores and directed advertising. Is this too much to ask?
  • by nurb432 ( 527695 ) on Wednesday October 12, 2005 @07:26AM (#13772274) Homepage Journal
    If its link, sure that might be ok.

    If its merge, this will be the beginning of the end of yahoo. Next will be yahoomail/hotmail.. then more an more until they are absorbed by microsoft.

    Is google really hurting yahoo that much to want to sell out to the antichrist?

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