Archive of UserLand's first discussion group, started October 5, 1998.

Yusuf Mehdi on Instant Messaging

Author:Dave Winer
Posted:8/5/1999; 7:07:12 AM
Topic:Yusuf Mehdi on Instant Messaging
Msg #:9146
Prev/Next:9145 / 9147

From Yusuf Mehdi, Director of Marketing at MSN, in response to Why Should AOL Open Up?, 8/4/99.

Hi Dave,

Hope all is well. I have moved from the Windows/IE business over to MSN so I wanted to follow up with you on your MSN Messenger questions and a few of the issues you raised. In general I think we are on the same page so hopefully this will clarify a few things.

What is Microsoft's goal with MSN Messenger? * Our goal with MSN Messenger client is to enable people to message with anyone regardless of their choice of client or backend system. We want to make this simple and compelling for folks. We would like to work with AOL on interoperability in the same vein that we are working with many others. We'd like to assume interoperability so that we can focus our work on making the client and platform even richer than it is today.

There are two paths to achieving interoperability that we are pursuing. The first is for AOL to join the 40+ companies that have committed to supporting the IETF proposed standard for the Instant Messaging Presence Protocol (IMPP). This is really the best way for us to get to an open standard that is in the best interests of everyone including most importantly the average user. I believe AOL has recently said they would consider working with the IETF and I hope they are sincere about it and follow through.

The second is to get going now and enable interoperability between clients on the protcols that exist. We have delivered a very simple and straightforward solution that allows AIM users to have a choice of messaging software to talk to their AOL buddies and MS Messenger buddies. It seems wrong to me that AOL would just deny users this choice in lieu of a better alternative. If they have a better alternative that allows users to communicate with their AIM and Messenger buddies today we'd be happy to talk with them about that approach. If not, we aren't asking AOL to open up anything, just to quit blocking their users from communicating with MSN Messenger users if they so choose.

How can I write apps on top of MSN Messenger? * We just shipped MSN Messenger 1.0 and our priority was to deliver a compelling client that enabled great interoperability for users. Now that we have shipped our first version and are gratefully getting positive feedback from people that have downloaded millions of copies we are going to work on making the client and service even better for users and developers. To your question, we will deliver an SDK for developers and we will have it out in the first quarter of next year. We're shooting to have it out before end of year.

The irony of it all is that we would prefer to spend even more time developing new features for users and developers, such as your request for an sdk, as opposed to issuing updates that restore users' ability to communicate with their buddies, but we will do the best we can on both fronts.

I hope this seems reasonable to you and would be happy to discuss at greater length if you are interested.


Yusuf Mehdi
Director of MSN Marketing

PS: I know you like to put the onus on the #2 player to change the rules and deliver something breakthrough to gain users, hence your point about the platform play, but I thought we might get a bit more credit from you on the interoperability of the client. Maybe you wrote something up and I missed it or maybe you don't think it is interesting? I am curious.

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