By now you have probably read all about the Microsoft/Yahoo/AOL announcement that the three big instant messaging (IM) vendors have come together for the betterment of society. Having worked on two solutions that integrated proprietary IM technology into web-based tools, I know something of the frustration felt by enterprise application developers over these disparate systems.
But Dave Marino-Nachison's article at Motley Fool captures well my sentiment of this announcement. There are two points I'd like to make:
- Don't delete your Trillian software just yet, or whatever tool you were using to bridge the gap between different technologies used by your friends and colleagues. This announcement does not change anything about the free IM systems we all use in our daily lives. The focus of this announcement is enterprise IM, and allowing users of Microsoft's Live Communication Server to link to the other, public IM systems.
- AOL and Yahoo have read the writing on the wall, and were already moving away from enterprise IM because, frankly, it didn't fit into either company's long-term model. AOL offering corporate IM? Yahoo pushing into the enterprise software business? I don't think so. It all fits right into Microsoft's plans, however. My sense is that this announcement is less about working together with rivals (makes nice copy for marketers) and more about AOL and Yahoo being realistic, and Microsoft going after customers who had been considering AOL or Yahoo enterprise solutions. That's actually a pretty smart move on their part.
So what changes in your life today or within the next year? Absolutely nothing. But if you were one of those firms to buy into an AOL or Yahoo enterprise IM server solution and want to also purchase, say, Microsoft's SharePoint or some other MS collaboration solution -- in the future, your AOL/Yahoo expenditures won't be a complete waste. But for the majority of folks looking for options, there are other vendors out there already offering some kind of integration.
As the space matures, however, IM will become more business critical, and its apparent that Microsoft is positioning itself to take the lead.