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InternetNews.com: IETF Working Toward IM Compromise

Aug 05, 2000, 22:04 (1 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Jim Wagner)


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By Jim Wagner, InternetNews.com

The Internet Engineering Task Force has tasked proponents for three instant messaging proposals to find common ground by Aug. 21.

But how these standards will fare when they go public is another matter, with America Online Inc.'s proposal discounted from proposal consideration.

The group of nine members represent backers from the different proposals the IETF considered. Three come from the IMXP camp, three are supporters of the Session Initiation Protocol proposal, and the other three make up the Group 2, or general category, proposal team.

Jonathan Rosenberg, one of the nine members and SIP proponent, said the industry is looking at them to find a common IM solution.

"Obviously, the industry does want a standard and that's what their looking to the IETF for," Rosenberg said. "So the pressure is on us to prove that this group of nine can do that. If you can't reconcile (the different proposals) you really got to show why that is."

AOL (NYSE:AOL) has nearly 130 million users on its AIM and ICQ instant messaging products, but its proposal at the 48th IETF meeting was rejected because it merely outlined how other IM products could interconnect with its current services.

The Internet service provider has been accused of dragging its feet when asked to make its IM products compatible with other company's offerings. According to AOL, security issues prevent its servers from accepting incoming messages from other IM services, which would take about a year to resolve.

Dave Crocker, subgroup member who backs the IMXP proposal, said that while the IETF can name a standard, the market eventually determines which standard is accepted.

"From the experience we have in the IETF, it turns out that real practice in the real world pretty much bears that eventually you will get one winner," Crocker said. "It's more through market forces and less through arbitrary political decisions by fiat in a standards body.

AOL maintains it will abide by the standards proposed by the IETF, but whether it will be incorporate in a timely fashion remains to be seen.

In July, a coalition of companies assembled to organize IMUnified, an industry effort to integrate the companies different IM platforms. It is made up of IM heavyweights AT&T Corp.(NYSE:T), Yahoo!, MSN Internet and Tribal Voice.

All have at one point tried to gain access for its users to AOL's AIM and all were rejected, in what AOL called "hacker" attacks. The coalition's attempts to include AOL were rebuffed, who instead told members to support AOL's IM platform.

IMUnified plans to incorporate its technology with whatever standard is eventually proposed by the IETF.

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