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.)

#6 Opinion: Userbase

by Anon

Friday July 30th, 1999 10:34 AM

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The original article had it exactly right. This is not about Open Source, Standards, Mozilla or indeed anything much to do with MozillaZine.

However it is an interesting story, and noticably the reaction to it is entirely based on the fact that Microsoft is one of the signatories.

I would agree with most of the posters so far that communication protocols really need an Open Standard and that the letter is correct in urging AOL to join the IETF process.

Where I disagree is that the "interim solution" is opening AOL's servers. Surely the real interim solution is to AOL to provide a de facto standard that could be implemented on other servers.

AOL seems to be within the limits of the law in "protecting" its customer base and therefore the case against them is little more than bluster. Whether it is the "right" thing to do is another matter and one which is wholly relative... Personally I do not think that the customers of Instant Messanger can complain too much, they knew that it was a proprietary service. There are alternatives to the service (obviously no exact duplicates) available.

I think that AOL's access blocking will ultimately lead to an Open Standard being created far more quickly than normal. From there we'll be able to chose our "Service Provider" and client according to our whims. Freedom of choice after all is the only hope of pleasing most of the people, most of the time.