The Daily Ping

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November 30th, 2000

Instant Messaging Madness

I finally succumbed. One day someone asked me over email, "Don’t you have MSN Messenger?" I gave. I downloaded it, tried it, hated it, and uninstalled it. But, for a short period of time, there were three different IM programs on my machine: AIM, Yahoo!, and MSN. (I can’t stand ICQ.)

Back in the day, QuantumLink – AOL’s grandpa – offered OLMs. OnLine Messages were simply text popups, but they were live, and pretty nifty. This morphed into the "Buddy List" on AOL, which came over to the net as AOL Instant Messenger. AIM didn’t exactly dominate – that was up to ICQ – but once AOL bought ICQ, things started getting interesting.

AIM remains the only way that net users can contact AOL users instantly. While AOL now offers "standards", earlier this year they beat down Tribal Voice (PowWow) and the almighty Microsoft by locking out non-AOL traffic on AIM. That is, you couldn’t use MSN Messenger to contact an AOLhead; you needed AIM. Microsoft complained, but nothing was done.

Thankfully, the Internet Engineering Task Force is working on a solution. It certainly would be nice to be able to download (or author!) a slick IM client that would work for everyone. For the time being, we need to have multiple programs doing the same task. Why? Because AOL didn’t want to give up their ad-laden, standards-breaking secrets. -pm

Posted in Technology

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