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Microsoft to "publish code" to Instant Messenger 196

VFVTHUNTER writes "According to this article at cnet, MS, in an attempt to gain a share of AOL's Instant Messenger Service Market, announced today it is going to publish the protocol to its own messenger service. " It's important to note it's NOT the source code, just the protocol.
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Microsoft to "publish code" to Instant Messenger

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  • Because they're Microsoft, and that's all the reason they need. They simply cannot concieve of a world where some really ultra-useful software that someone uses all the time isn't controlled by them. It's all or nothing for them.
  • Take a look at some of the ICQ exploits published sometime.
  • There is already an open-source effort to create a free instant messaging protocol: Jabber [].

    It's made a significant amount of progress and has a tremendous amount of support behind it, and works with AIM/ICQ/talk/IRC/etc transparently. Check it out and help get it done if you are interested :)
  • Check out Jabber [], a clean architecture designed to do just that and
    support simple/clean/fast clients, and has made significant progress already.

    It's an open-source project so it could use any/all help and suggestions!
  • The Jabber [] project is exactly that. Check it out, there is some work to be done yet so jump in and help out if you're interested!
  • So what if IRC was first? If at first you don't succeed, try, try again...
    I keep hearing the occasional IRC advocate saying how IRC is better than any messaging client - but from my experiences with IRC, it's not that great.
    It takes forever to connect, if you can connect at all. Names aren't protected very well - even if someone registers their name, you can impersonate them for 60 seconds. Lag is sometimes measured in minutes. Sending spam messages to everyone online is common. Netsplits are abundant. And 99.9% of every server I've seen is pr0n/war3z.

    The last time I used IRC was for the "Final Chat" with MST3K cast members. It was a mess. I now wholeheartedly avoid IRC.
  • The problem with Microsoft, and most of the software business, is NOT that it's not open source. The problem is that they use proprietary file formats and protocols. When they release a protocol, that's a Good Thing[tm] .

    And who needs their crappy code anyway? My RedHat system is unstable enough without Microsoft code in it...

  • Uhm, AOL already published the TOC protocol that AIM uses. How do you think TiK and GAIM and all those unix instant messanger clients were made? I don't see why MS publishing their protocol which is proabley a whole 8 lines different (connecting to another non-AOL ad server?) would be such a big deal.


  • Then OSS can suffer like all those who shake Bill's smarmy claw. I'm sure someone will try, all the time thinking "History be damned, this time I'll fool Bill, he's not that good at screwing people over." I just hope that it's not somebody from the Linux ranks.

    So, M$ publishes it's protocol. That just means that the trap has been set and this is a press release for the bait. The OSS world should just yawn.

    -- James
  • I believe that AOL publicly released the protocol, ostensibly to be used on platforms which they didn't want to write for themselves. They later pulled the protocol.
  • There has been a lot of discussion about this whole deal between MS and AOL on the messanging issue, but to me the biggest point here has been missed! AOL is running the servers that allow the connection between users. MS's client connects to these servers, using them to connect the user to other users, while implicitly giving Microsoft the credit for doing so!
    MS cannot "innovate" (by this I mean change "standards" to keep out competition) because they do not provide ANY servers to change the standards on. If the servers do not recognize new "inovations" then the clients cannot use them! Right now AOL is the only one out there who is providing ANY servers (both the AIM and ICQ servers), and they are doing so for FREE!! No advertisements, no banners, no NOTHING! They are doing this because they thing that having their name out there on a product that you use daily will entice you to sign up with them as an ISP (I also think that eventually they will start advertising..).
    Now Microstoft is comming in and pirating their servers, using the same idea to advertise themselves, and giving AOL no credit, while still making AOL foot the bill for running the servers that make this all possible. In my mind this is dirty pool, and Microsoft is just using the standards buzzword as a smokescreen so that it can use its monopoly to crush its way into another sector of the internet. How long do you think it will be untill we see instant messaging as a "intigrated part of the operating system"?
  • I wouldnt mind doing this, assuming theres not TOO much source, and that my OCR package can manage to distinguish between l and 1.

    Contact me via the above email if you want.
  • From my ZDNN daily email this morning:

    MS says it will publish the protocols for its instant messaging program.

    Of course, it's not the source released, it's just the protocols. But either ZD's reporters are too dumb to tell the difference, or are deliberately confusing the issue.

    When in doubt, i *always* remind myself to never attribute to malice what can be adequately explained by stupidity. The advantage is that i hardly ever blame anyone for anything now. The disadvantage is i've come to think the average human is about as bright as a cabbage.

  • Hey! We're talking about a Microsoft protocol, here! Of course there are going to be bugs! But don't you worry, a service pack'll be released any time now.

  • I won't even read that protocol on mere principal. Besides if I were to make a client, 3 years from now it'd be non-fuctional as MS "featurizes" it and makes older versions unusable.
  • If they pull out completely, then ICQ would go down with them too, right?

  • Not really the source code? Isn't that like the time someone had a "1966 Mustang GT" for sale for 4 grand in "mint condition," and it turned out to be a matchbox car?

  • Why *not* release the source code, then?
  • Perhaps the MS Instant Messenger sends default HTML encoded messages. These show up as attachments in other IM software and in general are just a pain. That would suck. Oh! Wait! It ALLREADY does suck!
  • downloading netscape does not mean signing up for an aim account. it just means getting the client. You actually have to register seperately for a username on the aim servers, and you can't use aim without one.
    the user count = the number of paying aol users + the number of aim only accounts.
  • by fixe ( 28769 )
    where is ICQ during all this? does ICQ not have the greatest # of users? and did ICQ not pioneer the IM concept? why do none of the other messengers use the ICQ protocol? and to top it off AOL OWNS ICQ! wtf?!

  • Blindly supporting Microsoft in its attempt to co-opt AOL's user base is extremely shortsighted and does nothing to further the goals of the open source community.

    We might win a small moral victory by showing that we can put aside prejudices and support our greatest foe, but we will lose the war when Microsoft has completed its decimation of AOL. Then they will go back to doing things their way and nobody will be left to stop them.

    Look at Netscape. When they started adding stuff to HTML, Microsoft yelled and screamed that Netscape was bad for not following the standard. Now that MS is on top, they do whatever the hell they want with the standard because nobody can stop them. Let's not repeat history again for the sake of a minor boost to our image. Let's instead show that we are able to think rather than blindly follow our basic principles even when we see that they will lead us off a cliff. Following principles even when they lead to certain death just makes martyrs. That may inspire others, or it may not. I'm not sure martyrs will be enough to fight off Microsoft.

  • Let's give credit where credit is due. MS wanted AOL to open up their standards, so it's only fair that MS does that same. Good for them. Who cares if they're only doing it to wipe out AOL - it's still a good thing. Now maybe the GAIM people will add this to their client and we'll be able to talk to MSNers as well as AOLers... C'mon, it's the little victories that make it all worthwhile.

  • As it exists now, there is no authentication. Therefore, impersonation is trivial.

    Yeah... I get a message or two every week that appear to be coming from someone on one of my lists that tell me to forward it to everyone else on my lists or my ICQ account will be deleted. Now I know that nobody on my list (only 4 people) sent me that message, so it's obviously faked.

  • I am just glad that Microslap could wait to make yet another IM service, you would think that having so many already would be enough. Now to figure out how to hack it so it never works... oh wait, it's microsoft, that will happen anyway...
  • "Microsoft learned working with standards groups bolstered its position over competitors."

    What is this shit? MS if all for standards, as long as THEY control it. The standard has changed. You must now upgrade to the latest version. Funny how i'm being taught that the way to design software is to keep it backwards compatible. You know, not changing the interface? I hope MS gets smashed to tiny little bits.
  • Remember how AOL then retracted it only a few short days ago?
  • um, i'm moving to linux b/c i'm SICK of buniess' involvement in how i do things on my computer. I'm sick of MS and other software vendors treating me like i'm worthless and that even tho i paid 50 they still can restict in every way what i do w/that software. Besides MS is already nervous.
  • This action is wrong so very wrong. To "publish" protocols for technology that isn't their's is not only ethically questionable, but how can Microsoft guarentee the acruacy of the specification of their specification or protocol? "Well, it works," isn't the right answer.

    This is just Microsoft's ploy to take advantage of technology they don't control.
  • Hmmm... why not have a non-propriety protocol established and set it down in an RFC? Correct me if I'm wrong, but that seems to have worked in the past.

    The added advantage is anyone could develop their own app, perl script, what-have-you, to use it as well.

  • I thought that MS wanted an open standard for messaging (read: they're loosing the war)? So, if they open their protocol, who cares? The whole thing will be a standard protocol anyway, so they're really not giving anything away, are they?
  • I use linux, windows (all flavors), AIX and Mac. Does that make my comments unbiased?

    What Mircosoft is doing is just to screw over AOL. They are no more intrested in IM being open standards then AOL are. Sure we get the protocols, but they will just change them once AOL have been taken out.
  • I have bumped up against this with IT personnel who will not do what I need them to because they don't think that it is necessary, or worth their time. As an IT person I have _personally_ had to help rebuild systems messed up by email worms. Not to mention dozens of Office Macro viruses... Go ahead an ignore their advice, but I don't expect you to run to them for help after you've double clicked "goodtimes.exe".
  • [VB is] Very useful for people who have lives (like myself). I'm very excited.

    AP, Silicon Valley - A new study released today finds that people who say they have lives are more likely to use VB. "I like to, like, drink and stuff and hit on chicks, dude" explains Biff S. "and I like and use VB". Others who don't identify themselves with the type of people who "have lives", say they hate VB. "I would rather play AD&D and read fantasy novels than use VB" declares the geeky, pimply-nosed, socially maladjusted Melvin W.

    Experts in the field claim that VB is the clear winner in the battle for the "moron" mindshare. "They may not be bright, but they have a lot of money to spend on 'for Dummies' books," says Dr. Brill E. Yant, the author of the ground breaking study. "However, we have noticed a large disparity in the amount of 'life' people tend to think they have when contrasted with an actual 'amount of life metric' measurement taken in a separate study," continued Dr. Yant, "Cleary, a more detailed study correlating these two effects is in order."

  • That is a pretty BIG bug guy. Its a WHOPPER actually, since Win95 listens on both ports 137 and 139. They probably changed it back simply because the OSS community had a fix for it very soon after it was discovered. No need to be condescending though, really. Regardless of whether the kernel source I'm refering to is old or not is besides the point. The fact is that the bug exists, and that in my personal opinnion, they did it on purpose.
  • The newer versions of AIM for windows (and I think Mac too) have both a file transfer feature and a chat room type feature (but you can only chat with other AIM users and not with AOL users). Then again the tik client doesn't have these features yet (I know that it's not in version .74) and I must agree for now ICQ is more useful

  • No. They wont..

    They will control the server side of the whole deal and it only makes it more profitable for them is there are many different client tools available.
  • I have never understood why people are even bothering with these pitiful excuses for messaging clients. Yahoo, AIM... ugh. ICQ has been the mainstay for a good long time now and is much better than the others, IMO. Why doesn't Microsoft battle with ICQ instead? THERE is where the gold is, IMO. There are dozens of Unix clients, Win, OS2, DOS, Be... That's where the people are.

    Nobody's been able to give me an answer to that so I'm hoping someone here can.
  • Microsoft's attitude towards standards is well documented, and a stellar example is the whole CSS patent thing. They're willing to "work with" the W3C and company on CSS as a standard. Open the patent up and actually treat it as an open standard? "Oh please" mumble Microsoft execs.

    Meanwhile the IETF (or whichever committee it is exactly that's developing the open instant-message protocol) is left out in the cold. If anything, the IETF is who we should be worried about embracing this, not the open-source community. Once they've folded, Microsoft's messaging hegemony will be complete and they can accuse AOL of not following the open standard, and have some real ammo to support the assertion.
  • While I am happy to see the protocol documentation released, just because Microsoft is documenting the protocol as it exists now does not mean that they will continue to do so.

    Time and time and time again, they have released documentation for a standard, only to latter add functionality that they do not document. Their undocumented extensions to their published SMB/CIFS standards are one good example of this.

    My point is this: don't rely on the Microsoft protocol if you don't want to get the rug yanked out from under your feet later. You might be able to keep up by reverse-engineering, as Samba has, or live with the small subset of functionality that was documented, but do you really want to have to do either?

    If you do use this protocol at all, use it only as a "bridge" for compatibility with MS clients. Don't make it your primary protocol. That way, if they make undocumented changes later, they end up cutting off their users from the world at large, rather than cutting off your users from Microsoft's world.

  • In the PC world "specifications" and protocols have been owned by companies since the inception.

    On the Internet, RFC's mandate protocols and code evolution determines how things will work.

    These two methods are completely at odds with each other. The reason we have an open Internet today is because these standards have been open and easily accessible.

    We shouldn't just accept open protocols, we should demand them.

  • Microsoft isnt' stealing servers, if they were stealing servers, they would be using them for 100% of the chatting, but they are using their servers for their stuff, and if you want to talk to your friend you connect to an aol server? Mabey AOL should get some crap for not letting people link to them (like irc) AOL wanted to be on the internet, and now they are running scared becuase other kids are there too. I hope AOL goes under with all its bad ideas. Just becuase microsoft is doing it doesn't make it bad, get your head out of your ass. And yes... aol does advertise on AIM.
  • not that serious. It's IM for chrissakes... Most of the problems can be overcome in the clients, if Mirabilis would ever get off their asses and fix the bugs.

    I was in contact with Arik or Sefi Vardi for a bit way back when Mirabilis was not bought by AOL. They had no intention on listening to user input to fix bugs, unfortunately, only their own buglists.

    I still think, however that the base ICQ protocol is far better than anything brought forward by anyone else. We'd just need to throw authentication at it (verify that a packet is coming from the UIN at the IP specified) to get rid of the hardest-to-kill exploits. THe others are easy to rid yourself of: turn off Web Presence, turn off show IP (yes I know it's a client thing), turn off the mini webserver. Trash the SMTP part of the ICQ client and bring it back to plain IM/chat/smallfile transfer.
  • by warmi ( 13527 )
    Thats easy. There are sites with ICQ protocol description and cosequently there are many diferent clients available.
    Based on those specs you can even write your own if you desire so ...
  • yeah until AIM gets file xfer and chatting. all it is is instant email. whats the point? AOL would be better off just opening their ports and using ICQ.

    Actually... Aol Instant Messanger 2.5.1366 [and a lot before] all support File Transfers, and Group Chatting... just not with AOLers... Just AIM users.

    Stan "Myconid" Brinkerhoff
  • by warmi ( 13527 )
    Actually ICQ concept is very nice. Most of the work is done on the client side and does not involve server whatsoever ( as opposed to say, IRC model)
    Vey clever - you register with the server using UDP, get all the IP's of people you care about and connect directly with them without using the server.
  • Give me open protocols and open file formats before open source any day!

    I don't mind open source, but I don't ever expect it of other people or companies... the choice is theirs both legally and morally. However, proprietary protocols and file formats are unforgivable.

    From a personal viewpoint, I much prefer a well written protocol spec over trying to decypher someone else's spaghetti code. I release my progs as open source simply because I have nothing to gain by keeping them closed, not because I believe that the source is inherently all that useful by itself.

    -- Div.

    But my grandest creation, as history will tell,
  • ICQ has almost -no- server-side security. The only real security is the user authentication for receiving events, and possibly for invisible users.

    ICQ has not released any "official" protocol, which was probably originally out of fear that security flaws might be discovered and third party clients would be made. All network communication could be seen without reverse-engineering, and third party clients did come out (along with security "flaws", i.e. lack of security).

    Obviously, ICQ was not designed with the user's security in mind. Remember the password buffer overflow on the server? At least they fixed that within a day.. Quite simply, a secure client and insecure server is outrageously stupid if you don't restrict access to your official clients only.

    ...and that's my $.02

  • Toilet paper dispenser advertising "Get Rich Quick!!!!!".

    Now we're completely off topic, but has anybody actually tried this? Printing advertisements on toilet paper and then selling it at a lower cost, subsidised by the advertisers? I don't see any real harm in it, and it would be very satisfying to wipe your rear with the ads you didn't like.

    Too bad I'm an engineer, not an entrepreneur. :-)

    But my grandest creation, as history will tell,
  • generally speaking i think this is the best way to do things...somewhat against the tide of throwing everything on the server i guess but much more scalable.
  • IRC is not necessarily evil. I recently set up a local (behind the firewall), isolated (not attached to any "network") IRC server for use with my group at work. It functions very nicely, and users have their choice of clients. This does not mean that IRC is the right instant messaging choice for every situation, but at least proves that it can a workable alternative to ntalk.

    No messaging service of any sort is immune to spam, porn, and warez abuses. Web forums, Email, Usenet, IRC, Muds, and even BBS's are just as prone to abuse as the newer instant messagers. Thank heavens for moderation on Slashdot! (Actually, thank Rob!)

    -- Div.

    But my grandest creation, as history will tell,
  • There are in fact two sets of servers here. There are the MS Instant Messaging servers which are at Hotmail, and there are AOL's IM servers...

    MSIM is designed to work with both, using the MSIM servers to communicate with MSIM users and TOC and the Oscar servers for communication with AIM users.

    I'm intrigued by your statement that AOL doesn't use their services for advertising. You're obviously using very old versions of the AIM client - as this has been streaming adverts for the last year or so... My partner runs a content channel at AOL UK, and I use AIM to keep in touch with her, and it's a pig having to ignore the advertising...

    You also don't seemto have been tracking MS's IM strategy very well. MSIM has been rumoured for a long time as part of either the Platinum or Tahoe releases of Exchange, where it's being suggested as a basis for internal communications in a business setting. By pre-seeding a client before general use of the server, MS are building their market (look at how it integrates with Outlook and NetMeeting).

  • Read the article. They're releasing the specs for MICROSOFT'S messaging service, NOT AOL's.
  • Uhm, AOL already published the TOC protocol that AIM uses.

    I thought AIM used OSCAR (which MS reverse-engineered). TOC is just a translator protocol to OSCAR. If MS would've used TOC, I don't see how AOL would have a problem, but apparently, it didn't work that way. . .

    EVERY news story I've seen has failed to make this distinction. Perhaps they're not wanting to confuse anyone?

    AOL has published TOC, but not OSCAR. Two protocols. Simple enough. GAIM and those other Unix clients use TOC, afaik. MSN Messenger does not.


  • There is the MSN messenger centralized hotmail system, and there is the MSN decentralized Exchange protocol.

    Do we get both, or just one? How about hotmail?

    Do we get the server backend?

    Keeping the pressure on MS until it completely puts its code where its marketing is, is still needed. You scream open, you had better mean open.
  • Is there one? Anybody working on it? URLS?

    We have an OS, now it looks like we need an IM'er, and a browser. These are the things people want on their desktop. World Domination won't happen without 'em. The public at large is sick to death of this crap. They need an option.

    BTW: AIM's user base number (and Real's) are total crap. Every new copy of Netscape comes with it, download the 'Scrape and you're a "registered user".
  • Your statment will hold true right up untill they start kicking non AIM clients off the server.. You see, the standard AIM client DOES spew out adds.. NON-AIM clients don't use it, but seeing as AOL removed all docs to the TOC protocol recently, I will NOT be suprised if they start banning NON AIM clients from the server totally..
  • I use ICQ all the time on every machine I log into. It'd be really cool to have source for it... (since the Java version sorta sucks)
  • Wouldn't it be cool to have an open source IM-client which would support ICQ + AIM + talk (the last could check for online with ping? -
    of course not for sure, but still...)
  • I have no problem with commercial companies controlling protocols either. What I do have a problem with is Microsoft trying to control the IM servers. This is their ultimate goal if they want to control the IM network. The way they'll do this is this:
    Open the protocol and get geeks using it widely
    Gain control over the majority of the servers
    Over a small period of time, "increase" functionality while reducing compatibility among the open source protocol.
    They've done it before, its nothing new. Just look at windows filesharing... Under the linux kernel|filesystems you'll see "Win 95 bug work-around" where winblows machines will respond (somewhat randomly) on a non-standard port. This "bug" was added by microsoft to eliminate non-MS OSes from communicating properly. What happens as a result is the user thinking "damn linux can't do shit with this filesharing" and they get NT to do the job.
  • just for the record if ms had aol's installed base they would NOT have initiated a standard discussion with ietf.
  • I don't know if that's true. Most people i know (at college) use ICQ. why? because the people (like me) who fix their computers and setup their network connections use it.

    It's the same as with Mp3.

  • Seems to me that if MicroSoft makes the protocol public, that makes it easier for crackers to hack the server. After all, for MicroSoft or AOL to make money on the Instant Messaging market, they have to control the servers and force feed advertisements to users. With the protocol public, clients which reject the adverts can be written which use MicroSoft's server (costing them money), or a public non-advert server can be put up which is compatible with all the MicroSoft clients.
  • you again? mr. "anonymous coward"?
    look.. why can't you get an account? i've noticed you coming in and immediately saying this in every discussion, and then every time someone brings up Jabber you bash them. If that's your opinion that's ok, but it would be nice if you'd do this from an account. frequently posting the same thing as "anonymous coward" is really just kind of, well, lame..

    if it turns out that the four "anonymous coward" posts i'm basing this on just happen to be from four different people with the exact same writing style, well, my apologies..

  • I agree with the basic idea of the previous post, assuming the following interpretation:

    It's not that there's anything wrong with open source. It has all the listed benefits, and the philosophy is certainly appealing. However, aside from the philosophy, the benefits tend to be pragmatic matters. It's one development model with it's pros and cons, but it's not necessarily the only model that amyone should ever use.

    The pros and cons of OSS vs. other models are really not relevant here -- what really matters for purposes of freedom, competition, etc., is open protocols. If you write an OSS client and I write a proprietary one, and they both use a standard protocol, then people can decide which one to use based on factors that are really nobody else's business but theirs. According to the OSS arguments, yours will probably, but not necessarily, be technically superior. If so, people who appreciate such things would use yours. Or, if mine is superior despite being non-open, they could use it. Others might choose mine for any number of other reasons, such as finding my user interface more appealing. Even if mine is superior, those who oppose proprietary software for philosophical reasons would use yours. The point is, choices exist and everybody's happy. Open-source is not relevant, except to those who care about it, or as a means to achieve the real goal of high quality.

    The key is that we both used the same protocol. If not for that, our programs would not be able to interoperate, and people would have to either deal with both or only be able to work with other people who chose the same one (and those who refuse to use mine for philosophical reasons would be completely unable to interoperate with those who chose mine for whatever reason). Assuming both became at least moderately popular, the scene would turn ugly as people evangelize the one that they prefer and fight over which one "everybody" should use. Ideally, I suppose, mine would "lose", leaving everyone using the OSS version. However, I think it's much more reasonable, and perfectly satisfactory, to simply have me use the same standard protocol, since that would eliminate all the unpleasantness. Maybe my version offers some particular features that some people want, and are willing to pay for. They could use it, but nobody else would be forced to do so simply in order to be able to work with them. My version would be adding value for these people but not making any trouble for anyone.

    Like I said, I find the OSS/free software philosophy attractive, but I don't think it's absolutely essential that all software follow it. However, it is absolutely essential that all communication protocols, file formats, and APIs be fully open standards. We can't have some software vendor making, say, a word processor or a spreadsheet program that uses a proprietary file format making it impossible for users to use a competing product because of incompatibilities.

    David Gould
  • Because this will not be an Open Protocol, merely a published one. Open protocols can be critiqued by all and eventually revised on the desires of the community (OpenGL comes to mind).. No way this is an Open Protocol.
  • Wasn't the Mozilla project going to do something like this?
    Maybe I'm just on crack.
    It sounded/sounds cool.
    Someone do it! I'm not comprehending enough yet, else I'd do it myself.
    Okay, this comment ends now.
    Unless I have a sig that I forgot about, but I think I got rid of it.
  • it's clear that Microsoft will do anything they can at this point to distract from the point of this: servers.

    AOL isn't complianing about use of the protocol, it's use of the servers. Microsoft is trying to say, look, we're open and AOL isn't, by the fact they're publishing a 'open' protocol which is almost as versatile as UNIX 'Talk'.
    Meanwhile AOL has a completely open protocol (TOC) which they have published a completed open-source implementation of (TIK).

    The point is, if microsoft wants total openness, and they're expecting AIM to open their servers, why not we make use of the servers Microsoft's put up for their messenger? i mean, they didn't invite us-- they just posted the protocol-- but i guess they're kinda _implying_ they want us to abuse their servers, the way they assumed that AOL wanted microsoft to abuse OSCAR when they posted TOC.

    So, let's do whatever we can with/to the MSM servers. And i don't mean use them for messanging; that would be pointless. I mean just do whatever the hell we feel like. Route things through it. Send large files to friends. Or just heavily pingflood it at random or something, i dunno. If a pingflood is nothign more than "unauthorized use of a computer network", it's no less ethical than what MS is already doing to AOL, and i doubt they could really complain about it.

    I have no clue how the MSN servers are set up, or even if they exist. Nor do i care; i use AIM, and i don't use it because i like it, i use it because i have friends on AOL. i have no use for another instant messenging protocol, particularly not one such as MSM which is devoid of any redeeming features. Hell, i have little use for _a_ instant messenging protocol. i have IRC. if i had my way, we'd all have accounts on dynip and just use DCC to talk to each other (it even has file transfers!). Or ICQ, it's pretty nice.

    But there's probably some way you could send packets of any type with a MSMessenger-like wrapping that would allow you to use the MSMessenger server for other things. I'm just saying, let's look. There may even be ways to shell through it, or run SETI@home. Either way we should certainly _check_.

    Comments, anyone?
  • Standardize the protocol? What a crazy idea!!! If that were to happen, there might be a chance that no one would need to sell or give someone something with their name on it. Where is the fun in that?
  • by drwiii ( 434 )
    where is ICQ during all this? does ICQ not have the greatest # of users?

    Only if "registered users" counts as a running tab of their userbase. After doing a sequential scan of their database one weekend, I found that quite a bit of their UIN's are either canceled accounts, or null space where they presumably "bumped" the user number up to reach a certain goal. ICQ is a fad. I don't see it growing beyond that category any time soon.

    and did ICQ not pioneer the IM concept?

    No. America Online did in the form of a Buddy List in mid-1985. AOL was called Quantum Computer Services back then, and their online service was called QuantumLink. You'd get a list of logged-on friends at the top of your screen when you were in their "People Connection" area. I remember alpha-testing the chat areas on my Commodore 64 with my dad when I was 6 years old. :-)

    why do none of the other messengers use the ICQ protocol?

    Because it's a clusterfudge. Honestly, I wouldn't build on top of that protocol if my life depended on it. ICQ just folded shoddy user authentication and an IRC notify list into a proprietary platform with pretty graphics, that's all. Nothing innovative there.

  • It's been done -- years ago. It's called IRC.
  • Nah, it's just like they advertised the mustang in mint condition, but when you get there you find out that it is totally disassembled :)
  • Is is going to add this protocal that M$ is "open sourcing" (quotes denote marketing term) ? Does anyone use it? V0.1 isn't, shall we say, reassuring.;)
  • The big problem here is, people will use it. They will have no choice. Microsoft will bundle it with Win200x and make computer manufacturers customize it with their own nifty 8-bit images. Sooner or later, someone will figure out how to pry into your Win200x system using this messeging protocol. Microsoft will consider it only a throretical security flaw, and blame open-source developers for not paying enough attention to it. So now its all your fault. But hey, MS is the good guy for proving that the open-source model is/was just a phase and that we should just trust them to do things.

    Right about then, you'll be able to jump into your Microsoft Explorer and drive down to MicrosoftMarket and buy some Microsoft Beans for your morning coffee. But dont dare call it Java...
  • Can't we make a client that runs under say GTK and/or QT that does AIM, ICQ, Yahoo!, Excite's thing, *and* Microsoft's thing? It'd be better than having 4-5 windows open just to talk to people....
  • Now maybe the GAIM people will add this to their client and we'll be able to talk to MSNers as well as AOLers... C'mon, it's the little victories that make it all worthwhile.

    Yep, that's the important thing. Now that MS has finally "allowed" what they have been trying to bully AOL into doing, I say it's time to extend our clients to talk to MSN clients. In fact, AOL should do it to now that MS is allowing it. I'd love to have a checkbox that says "I've got friends on MSN". Then see what MS does. If they are really serious about open standards, they'd accept that, after all, now MSN users can chat with AOL users. However, what do you think are the chances that MS would block clients from all "non-partnering" services?

    We'll have to see

    -Brent - Keep up with the Instant Messaging fiasco

  • The day MSFT goes open source is the day they publish all their "extensions" to the protocol.

    "Oh, but we don't have any ...", Bill G says.

    Yeah, right.

  • If you are a network administrator, then presumably you maintain a computer network so that others can do work. Why do you think that you have the right to limit their usage.

    The simple answer: Because I run the damn network. The not so simple answer, let me quote you: ... so that others can do work. ICQ != work. I have worked for various companies, one of which did not condone the use of the Internet for anything but looking up company related information. On the other end of the spectrum I worked for an ISP that allowed you to basically 'play' as long as it didn't interfere with your work. Meaning that sitting on ICQ is good, but better make sure you're 'n/a'.

    Other than that, if you want IT personnel to do something for you, it might help to ask them nicely, and not flat out demand it and possibly threatening to go to their managers if they don't do it. The reason they are in IT and you are not is because they know a lot more about it than you do, so personally I'd say it's you who should come down off the high horse.

    I'm not insulting you here, but being a network admin/sysadmin myself I see this attitude a lot, and it gets very irritating after a while. Here you are doing your best to keep a network going so that people can work, and you don't want people to install ICQ with the possible risk of spreading a virus all over the network, or maybe causing it to not function properly.

    As a note, read this [] to get an idea of what might happen if you piss off your friendly neighbourhood sysadmin ;)

  • by fixe ( 28769 )
    thanks for the info.

    so i guess it was a waste of money for AOL to buy it though huh?
  • What product is better than NetMeeting for *all* those tasks it does (whiteboard, video/audio/chat, etc)?
  • Hmmmm well AOL could add MS's protocols into AIM so AIM people can communicate with MSIM but not vice versa. HAHAHAH :)
  • Now, it is time for AOL to go a step further and to publish the source code of (at least) the protocol communication routines of their messager program.
    Open source with request to acknowledge the use of an AOL code derivative (in any product which uses it). This would make AOL advertisement in the MS application if they use the code. This is better than having MS reverse ingeneering the protocol and giving no credit to aol in their messager.
  • 1) people that create messenger servers -- either sold or OSS on other platforms (i'm guessing MS will only offer theirs on NT)

    2) people that create messenger client alternatives -- either for sale or OSS

    3) MS, who can draw you in to using the protocol, then change it on a whim & not release the new protocol specs, and you're stuck with a basically non-functional client or server. (then again, think of samba. that's a big reason why linux has the market share it does have. MS messed with SMB just like AOL messed with their protocol, but samba just continues going, better than ever.)
  • OK, so Microsoft is publishing their protocol. First, that means squat--even if people code around their protocol, they'd still have to develop their own source. Second, I'm afraid that that's what people might do. The article mentions backers like Prodigy...might that be a way to start undermining open source, by attracting commercial companies with something similar (open standards), and yet allowing them to keep their code sacrosanct (closed source)? It's a step in the right direction, for Microsoft--if we look at them 10 years ago. But now it's just another attack on the open source ideology.
  • then again, if they actually did release _all_ of the source code, they'd be acting too much like pseudo-OSS [because, as M$, they could never truly be an OSS company], and they couldn't possibly stand to do something good. that would be sinning against the very evil nature of their soul.
  • "all it is is instant email. whats the point?"

    Sometimes all I want is instant email. In a chat setting like AIM or Y! pager or whatever, you are always there. It's easier to talk to 5 ppl at once when there aren't 5 seperate boxes on your screen. Not to mention the fact that I can use the entire program from a teeny little box in a corner of my screen; the others use up way too much screen real estate.

    ...though I always turn off all the sounds. I wish the sounds were themeable...
  • It's very simple what Microsoft is trying to do.

    They figure: "This whole thing with AOL back and forth is getting really old. There's gotta be something we can do."

    Then, one of those guys who REALLY doesn't like working for Microsoft (but does so for the money/experience) approches the executives and says: "Let's release the Source Code!"

    The executives ponder it, and eventually come out with: "No....but we can release the Protocol specifications!" thinking that they can get the public to write MS compatible versions of an Instant Messenger (They don't have a choice. It's the Microsoft specs that are public. AOL pulled theirs, remember?) Once the Microsoft(compatible) Instant Messenger is on every computer on the Planet, AOL is forced to do 1 of 2 things.

    1) Give up on Instant Messenger completely, eliminating them from the market. This gives Microsoft a good foothold in the IM market, with little competition. (Now we go after ICQ HAHAH!)

    NOTE: ICQ is owned by AOL, so they're not totally out.

    2) AOL can pull it's Instant Messenger software behind the America Online wall, and make it a "Member Exclusive" service you can't get with any other Provider, (Just like Web access and Chat!)

    Either way, guess who won? Guess who Cheated? If you're smart, you'll get the same answer.

    -- Give him Head? Be a Beacon?

  • I don't think so. Sure, MS will try to control and obfuscate it, but so can you. If free software implementing this protocol makes useful improvements (as opposed to "ehance-embrace-destroy" strategic "improvements" ) then people will start using them and the protocol will change. Didn't someone reverse engineer the AOL protocol? That must have been a pain in the ass. I don't have a problem with protocols developed by commercial companies. It makes sense that open-source communications clients should be able to auto-detect several protocols, as well as implementing their own protocol. We should get together, check out the spec, compare it to the AOL stuff, and come up with a really open non-commercial instant messaging protocol. Then submit it to the IETF, the only remotely trustable standards body.
  • They both did/are doing screwy things here
    and AOL is making horrible mistakes. I am
    afraid for the sake of Netscape.. most
    Mozilla developers work for netscape, even
    with the Open Source movement.

    Things could become very bad in the future.

  • I think it will be interesting to read it. It will give developers insight into how things work at Microsoft. How they think.

    If the protocol is bad and filled with bugs, then we will say "typical Microsoft".
    If it is reliable and clever, we will say "Hah! It must have been outsourced.."
  • Here's what I don't get, though. Why do they need to win the IM wars? Why is there a war in the first place?


  • >Yeah, I knew that... but I don't see the worth
    >of it all. In other words, both sides are taking
    >a huge PR hit on this. I'd be interested in
    >knowing how much revenue AOL generates from AIM.
    >If it were like millions of dollars in
    >advertising, then I could understand. But I've
    >run AIM from my PC's before, and all the
    >advertising was for AOL. I've seen little other
    >advertising, but I haven't used it in the past
    >month. *shrug*

    As for the AOL ads in AIM, it sounds like cheap advertising to all those people that are not yet AOL users.

    I hadn't thought about it, but it would appear to be similar to the portal thing. You want as many people as possible to visit, or in the case of IM use, your service so that you can flash the ads.

    In the case of third party ads its money in your pocket. In the ads for your own 'additional' services it is a 'cheap' way to get exposure.

    As for PR since when did either of these companies really care about bad PR. If they did they wouldn't do so many 'stupid internet tricks'. Most people that use AOL or MSN have probably not even heard about this little flak and I am sure very few none connected people have. Also of those that have many couldn't care less, they will just go on using what they use. Just like I use ICQ because that is what the people I want to chat with use, even though there are other methods I would prefer.

  • They are only doing this to kill off AOL. But all you will be left with is Microsoft in the number one slot.

    And giving out the protocol? Big deal, AOL did that and then went and changed it. Who's promising MS won't do the same?

    I think they should make the standard similar to HTML... no wait they subverted that too. :)

  • We could look at all the existing products and create a new non-Microsoft non-AOL product.

    Check out this at

    It's the Open Source Messenger home page!
  • It now reads: Microsoft's next messaging move: publishing protocol

    Interesting, I guess it's easy to get it right when there are thousands of netizens doing your homework for you.

  • I can't know your circumstances but you sound exactly like any number of the know-enough-to-be-dangerous types. Not only is your request probably a waste of time - the fact your asking it probably is too. Most IT sorts are policy makers they just impliment it. You want someting out of scope you need to talk to their manager. To you its "just one little thing" - to the techs it's "-another- bloody thing".
  • The trend is happening again, and again, and again.
    • What do you do if you are making a product for the mass market and you find yourself in the unfortunate position of being the number two vendor? You make it free.
    • What do you do if the number one vendor has made theirs free (gratis)? You publish the source, protocols
    It is amusing to see people taking positions on these events based on their preconceived notions as to the relative "goodness" or "evilness" of the corporate sponsor. Yesterday, AOL was evil. Today they are good. Bah!

    Message to all: chill. Enjoy. It doesn't matter who is doing this, in the long run we are the winners.

  • You're forgetting that Slashdotters are not the only people that use the Internet. MS and AOL are not fighting to have you or I use their clients. They're trying to win the marketshare of less technically-oriented people. People like this don't necessarily use the "best" product. They just use what's cheapest/most popular/most convenient.

  • Caliban is (...) GPLed

    Will this cause licensing problems for people releasing their own version of clients/servers using the protocol under alternative licenses? (e.g. BSD, proprietary, etc.)

  • Of course! And for a large fee, they well "sell" the extensions to select clients, shortly before "enhancing" the protocol further. For the customer's own good, of course.

    It's a simple tactic - sell worthless information for vast sums of money to increase the difference between your products and your competitors. Result - your competitors buy themselves into bankrupcy, you win at little/no effort.

I THINK MAN INVENTED THE CAR by instinct. -- Jack Handley, The New Mexican, 1988.