Full Article Attached Opinion: AOL/Microsoft Real-Time Messaging Debate

Friday July 30th, 1999

As you all know, AOL, Netscape's parent company has been involved in a cat-and-mouse game with Microsoft over access to their Instant Messaging protocol. Yesterday, AOL announced a partnership with Apple to bring Instant Messenger to Mac users. Today, Microsoft and other Messaging hopefuls wrote an open letter to Steve Case of AOL asking him to stop blocking them from access to the Instant Messenger protocol.

I'm not going to go into all the details regarding this at the moment, but I'd like to throw out an opinion and see what mozillaZine readers think. Click Full Article below to read more, and give us your opinions in Talkback.

(Note: this doesn't really affect Mozilla, but since AOL is now Netscape's parent company, I thought it would be interesting to get the opinions from those who are involved in or interested in the Mozilla project.)

#26 MS *has* the protocol, so what's the problem?

by Anon

Friday July 30th, 1999 3:07 PM

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Microsoft has a plethora of choices available for an instant messaging protocol: IRC, ntalk, TOC (the open protocol AOL authored for its Java client and TiK), OSCAR (the closed protocol AOL uses for its Windows AIM client), Jabber, and there are undoubtedly others. The question here is not "Why won't AOL let Microsoft have an open standard?" - it's "Why won't Microsoft implement ANY of the MANY EXISTING open standards on its own server?"

If Microsoft were to be honest about open standards, it would set up and deploy its *own* OSCAR server (, maybe) and release an OSCAR client that was capable of connecting to OSCAR servers belonging to anyone. Except, well, AOL is fudging around to keep clients that work well with from working with AOL's own servers. So would AOL please get with the program and use open standards?

Big happy all around in this case, I think. Microsoft can bundle MSN Messenger (which uses as much as it wants without poaching AOL's userbase or stealing money out of AOL's pockets by loading down their servers with Microsoft traffic. AOL can either respond by either releasing a version of AIM that will comply with an open standard and connect to multiple servers, or by fading away in the IM market. And the users get an IM client (from Microsoft, no less!) that will work with more than one chat service but is *NOT* a bid for a monopoly.

Not that this'll ever happen, because Microsoft has succeeded in spinning this as "open standards vs. proprietary AOL" when it is, and has always been, "AOL's private property vs. Microsoft's theft of service".