Microsoft takes step toward messaging standard

Responding to what it called "consumer demand to communicate freely over the Internet", Microsoft said yesterday it will publish the protocol for its instant-messaging service software.

The move will make it easier for users of rival messaging products to talk to users of Microsoft's own MSN Messenger Service, Microsoft says in a statement. It will also serve as an interim solution until vendors of instant-messaging software come up with an industry standard, the company says.

Instant-messaging systems let users communicate in real time with selected online users.

Microsoft will submit the protocol as a draft to the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) by the end of August. It will also help the IETF in its development of a messaging standard called IMMP (Instant Messaging and Presence Protocol), Microsoft says.

Vendors of instant-messaging software have been in a battle over whether to open up the online software to users of rival software. Microsoft delivered the first salvo in the "messaging wars" last month, announcing that its new messaging product was compatible with America Online's Instant Messenger Service.

AOL made attempts to block those efforts, but eventually announced that it would work with the IETF on a standard so all users of such software can communicate with each other.

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