The Mess in Messaging

In a story about Yahoo's competition with Google, spokeswoman Terrell Karlsten said that Yahoo is committed to interoperability between instant messaging services.

She also said Yahoo! was an "active advocate" of allowing users to communicate with people using other instant messaging services -- something Google Talk already offers -- provided users' security was not affected. However, this isn't something Yahoo! offers to customers at the moment.

I've been waiting for years to see the big companies break down the walls between their IM services. I use Trillian to receive instant messages over four accounts I have on ICQ, MSN, Yahoo, and AOL, and that's four too many; no one would use e-mail if you had to set up an account on each server that might send you a message. Making matters worse, clients like Trillian have to be updated frequently just to keep functioning with these services.

I was curious about what the "active advocate" comment meant, so I e-mailed Karlsten for details. She replied that Yahoo's commitment is demonstrated by its participation in Microsoft Live Communications Server 2005, a messaging program for businesses that works with MSN, Yahoo, and AOL.

The program, which is priced for businesses at $1,199 with five user licenses, supports the non-Microsoft servers with the purchase of an additional access license.

"We continue to support efforts towards opening the IM community in a seamless, convenient and secure manner," Karlsten wrote.

Google Talk launched with support for any Jabber messaging client because of its implementation of XMPP, giving millions of instant messaging users a reliable connection to Google Talk users from day one of the service.


Yes, but ... unfortunately that 'DNS SRV records not implemented' means that Google's Jabber implementation can't communicate with any other domain's Jabber server. Which, since my webhost offers Jabber hosting at my domain, is kind of a bummer.

I'm not familiar enough with Jabber to understand the implications of that. People can use other clients to communicate with the Google Talk server, but a Google Talk client can't communicate with other Jabber servers?

Right. To use the email analogy, It's like being able to use any standard email client but only being able to send mail to other addresses. OTOH, it sounds from that FAQ like this is a temporary restriction.

err, that's 'anything other than' addresses.


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