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Microsoft Threatens Startups Over Account Info

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 6 years ago | from the strong-arm-of-the-law dept.

Microsoft 156

HangingChad writes "According to Fortune, there are reports that Microsoft is trying to strong arm startups to give preferential treatment to MSN Messenger and are using account information as leverage. 'If the company wants to offer other IM services (from Yahoo, Google or AOL, say), Messenger must get top billing. And if the startup wants to offer any other IM service, it must pay Microsoft 25 cents a user per year for a site license.' Of course, if the company is willing to use Messenger exclusively 'fee will be discounted 100 percent.' Getting detailed information is difficult as many of the companies being approached are afraid of reprisals."

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156 comments

They are all playing the lock in game (5, Interesting)

Zeinfeld (263942) | more than 6 years ago | (#22107944)

All the social networking companies are playing this game. The only difference is that when Microsoft points a lawyer at you, they are loaded.

Open Identity systems such as OpenID are the way to go. But how do we break open the proprietary lock? Tim Berners-Lee told me to look at FOAF but we still need to complete the integration into the authentication systems.

Re:They are all playing the lock in game (4, Interesting)

Zeinfeld (263942) | more than 6 years ago | (#22107992)

Bad form to follow up one's post, but when I said the companies were all playing the same game, I meant the lock in game. The tactics are different but the idea is the same: the social networking company owns the contacts and the data.

You can export your links to other people in these schemes but the inbound links point in the same place, you can take your data but not your network.

One step forward here is that Google blogger has at last allowed people to use their own domain name with their blog. So you can move your blog to a different host if you please.

Re:They are all playing the lock in game (1, Interesting)

perlchild (582235) | more than 6 years ago | (#22108684)

All the other companies aren't convicted monopolists...
Microsoft should be afraid of legal repercussions for using this tactic...
They're not, this indicates part of the problem with the punishment they've had so far(too light).

Not a level playing field. (1)

twitter (104583) | more than 6 years ago | (#22110736)

I meant the lock in game. The tactics are different but the idea is the same: the social networking company owns the contacts and the data.

How can you even think like that? M$ can break your client on 80% of desktops at anytime with an autoupdate. M$'s crappy protocols have to be reverse engineered so that it's hard for others to implement them. No other company has both the malice and power that M$ combines. Even TW/AOL is moving to jabber. M$ is not fighting for your info, they already have that with Winblows. M$ is fighting to expand it's dominant position into yet another "proffit center".

Re:They are all playing the lock in game (5, Insightful)

Enlightenment (1073994) | more than 6 years ago | (#22107994)

I think this quote says quite a lot: "We want to make sure our data is kept between our users and our servers." "Our data"? Is that even a legal position to take? It's sure as hell not intuitively obvious that they should be able to consider data theirs just because they're the ones who keep track of it.

What about Intellectual Property? (5, Insightful)

mangu (126918) | more than 6 years ago | (#22108216)

"Our data"? Is that even a legal position to take? It's sure as hell not intuitively obvious that they should be able to consider data theirs just because they're the ones who keep track of it.

An interesting position, if we the people would be allowed to claim it. Since I'm the keeper of the information in my computer, does it mean I own the intellectual property?!...


Yes, I know, there's a difference between "data" an "information". But my list of contacts isn't something that arose spontaneously, we aren't talking about phone books here. I worked for years to meet all the people in my list. That's information that has been carefully collected and organized, it's not like taking a list of everybody who lives in a city and ordering by last name.


That list of contacts is *MY* data, *MY* property and *I* should have the final word about it!

Re:They are all playing the lock in game (1)

jav1231 (539129) | more than 6 years ago | (#22108668)

It's their data, we're their customers. How dare anyone try to gain market share in their market? Wooing their users? This story illustrates nearly everything that's wrong with Microsoft.

Re:They are all playing the lock in game (3, Interesting)

jdevivre (923797) | more than 6 years ago | (#22108714)

"Our data"? Is that even a legal position to take?
You know, I was all ready to "hear hear" that sentiment, and then I thought of the Postal Service. The content of a letter is mine (keep it simple and bypass copyright, etc), but the responsibility of delivery is theirs. They can't lose it, have it stolen, altered, copied or viewed by anyone (again, simplify) without "failing" their purpose. Same goes for the IM handlers, I guess. Having control over the in- and out- points, along with the channels between is just easier to meet the responsibilities.

So, not to defend the actions or strategies of MS, but the aspect you've focused on is at least open for discussion.

Re:They are all playing the lock in game (4, Insightful)

Divebus (860563) | more than 6 years ago | (#22108050)

Same old head crushers. Are you watching this DOJ? Oh, it's not a threat... it's a choice. An anti-competitive, locked in, service bundling, vendor threatening choice - in the name of beter "security". Puleeeez. We've seen this behavior before and I hope this blows up in their face worse than last time.

Eventually, the DOJ is going to have to put (1)

crovira (10242) | more than 6 years ago | (#22109564)

Microsoft 'to sleep'.

They make nothing except for inadequate OSs and threats.

Not really... (1, Informative)

Per Abrahamsen (1397) | more than 6 years ago | (#22108380)

It wasn't "social networking sites", but "webmail sites". And of the three big ones (Microsoft, Yahoo, and Google), only Microsoft try to use control of the mail contacts as a "leverage" for their other products.

When it comes to anti-competitive behavior, Microsoft really is worse than other companies. If nothing else, the number of times Microsoft has been convicted of illegal business practices (especially tying) should witness of this.

Re:Not really... (5, Insightful)

Zeinfeld (263942) | more than 6 years ago | (#22108566)

It wasn't "social networking sites", but "webmail sites". And of the three big ones (Microsoft, Yahoo, and Google), only Microsoft try to use control of the mail contacts as a "leverage" for their other products.

Acording to TFA it was the social networking sites that were trying to hook in.

OK so you don't like Microsoft's tactics, don't get a Hotmail account. What I find rather more objectionable is the amount of social networking spam I have been getting from new social networking sites trying to gain critical mass.

In one week I received email from three new networks trying to start up, each one was playing the 'download all the contacts and spam them' game.

Flaming Microsoft is fun but after the first decade or so it got old. I gave that up in '98 or so. Rather more interesting is working out what we can do to change the game.

In the dotCrime Manifesto I proposed a mashup of OpenID/SAML/WS-* on the authentication side, FOAF as contact interchange medium, DNS SRV records as the discovery mechanism. The objective being to create an identity system in which end users own and control their own data.

Finding folk who are upset enough to flame Microsoft is rather easier than finding folk interested in writing or deploying code that might change the situation.

Re:Not really... (0, Flamebait)

pembo13 (770295) | more than 6 years ago | (#22110484)

OK so you don't like Microsoft's tactics, don't get a Hotmail account.

Well duh, that's easy. Try getting your mail out of Hotmail without using Windows+Outlook

Re:Not really... (1)

Gr8Apes (679165) | more than 6 years ago | (#22111258)

Well, after I get my suite of 4 or 5 open source projects all interacting seamlessly with one another (SSO) and management unified under the portal server, my next step may very well be to merge all that with OpenID, as it may in the end simplify my tasks. Meanwhile, getting the 4 current systems to work seamlessly together has been painful enough. The question of whether I can donate back the modified code is potentially questionable unless and until we start selling licensed copies. And in short, the modifications to the sources are minor, as it's a separate framework much lighter than CAS (that's a seriously clunky SSO solution, yick).

Plz mod parent up (1, Interesting)

walterbyrd (182728) | more than 6 years ago | (#22109046)

Msft advocates are fond of saying "everybody is doing the same thing." But the truth is that nobody is brazenly breaking laws, and otherwise scamming like msft. Not even close. Msft is in a class by themselves.

Msft scams include: outright lying to the US-DoJ in video taped testimony, letters from dead people campaign, the scox scam, the acacia scam, outright stealing stacker technology, fake benchmarks, use of shill "journalists" like Enderle, fake "independent" benchmarks, fake "independent" reviews, and on and on.

Msft == corruption, like no other company.

LOL MICROSOFT RULES LOL (0, Offtopic)

Fanboy Fantasies (917592) | more than 6 years ago | (#22107950)

GET THE FACTS [getthefacts.com]

Heavy Foot (5, Interesting)

mfh (56) | more than 6 years ago | (#22107952)

Microsoft has always had a heavy foot, but waiving fees for those who cut out the competition requires another solution.

Drop Microsoft! Just drop them. Stop using them. They are old anyway. Let's come up with something NEW!

Backfires inc!

Re:Heavy Foot (5, Funny)

Mateo_LeFou (859634) | more than 6 years ago | (#22108048)

"Drop Microsoft! Just drop them"

You're actually suggesting there are viable substitutes for Hotmail?!@!?

Re:Heavy Foot (1)

crispin_bollocks (1144567) | more than 6 years ago | (#22108508)

Well, Google has slowed Gmail considerably by adding some features nobody was clamoring for. Maybe they'll catch up to Hotmail soon.

Re:Heavy Foot (1)

cloakable (885764) | more than 6 years ago | (#22110402)

You mean IMAP? I use that, it's extremely useful because I have a couple of computers, and it's nice to be able to click up KMail from the tray and instantly read my mail, versus launch my browser, go to gmail.com, login, and THEN read my mail.

Re:Heavy Foot (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 6 years ago | (#22110828)

IMAP is truly awesome, but I do find the version 2 UI is quite a bit clunkier. Fortunately, the version 1 UI is still accessible (for now at least).

Re:Heavy Foot (3, Insightful)

rucs_hack (784150) | more than 6 years ago | (#22108072)

Like it or not, they are a major IM provider.

I'm not an MS fan, but this sort of thing does irritate me. They are *not* strongarming startups. What they are doing is trying to find ways of monetizing their services. These services are free to end users, but why should they be free for other businesses to use? I can't see why. How is it reasonable to use another companies product to make money without paying for that usage? Only if the company wants it to be used for free, and Microsoft doesn't. That's their right.

Can these startups just avoid using the MS IM protocol? Sure, if they want to drastically reduce their customer bases. That would be unbeleivably stupid in the US.

And besides, 25 cents per user per year? If the startup is worthy of existence, they should be able to make more than that per user per year, its a piddly amount.

Re:Heavy Foot (4, Insightful)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 6 years ago | (#22108146)

What they are doing is trying to find ways of monetizing their services.
All well and good if they weren't shipping the product free with their monopoly OS. They have to play by different rules than everyone else, because no one else has a monopoly to leverage.

and, naturally, if they weren't being deceitful (1)

arete (170676) | more than 6 years ago | (#22110938)

and, naturally, if they weren't being deceitful
Submitted this to the original article; no idea if it'll show up.

I think rob/ahoutx/maddawg are missing the point. Exclusivity and top billing have nothing to do with security.

MS COULD demand certain security measures or, more uniformly, require the service to send the user to MSN where they must agree to a warning about how this startup may do lord knows to their info. It should be up to the user.

Keep in mind that if this article is accurate, they are NOT doing this. But they ARE saying that it's totally fine to do whatever you want IF you only use MSN.

Generally these types of services at least require you to enter your IM info AND PASSWORD for them to get all your contacts. And if you give _anybody_ this info they can sign on using an IM client and get all your contacts.

Not exactly a lot here that this policy is keeping safer.

Monetize yes, Service not so much (2, Informative)

Mateo_LeFou (859634) | more than 6 years ago | (#22108156)

Your hotmail contacts are a data set. Reading them, even automagically using technology that was boring in 1975, is not a service but a natural human faculty.

"And besides, 25 cents per user per year?"

Not a huge number, but "25 cents per user per year per relevant dataset" would be a dealbreaker for every startup I know.

Re:Heavy Foot (1)

Znork (31774) | more than 6 years ago | (#22108312)

"What they are doing is trying to find ways of monetizing their services."

Um, no. They're monetizing people using _other_ companies services. You get it for free if you _only_ offer the MS service, you have to pay to if you want to offer someone elses service.

Best thing to do is to just hang up on them if they call. It's not a company that will ever learn, and history shows that any deals made with Microsoft has only one winner and it ain't you.

Re:Heavy Foot (1)

thegnu (557446) | more than 6 years ago | (#22108374)

yeah, I'm not sure what they're charging for.

Oh, by the way, dude: If I sell you a computer, and you then purchase hardware from someone other than me, you must pay me 25 cents per person-device-year. Sounds pretty fucking stupid to me. But I suppose if businesses want to do business with people like Microsoft, it serves them right.

Re:Heavy Foot (1)

Eggplant62 (120514) | more than 6 years ago | (#22108246)

I'm kind of surprised that this doesn't trigger some kind of investigation into further attempts at continuing their monopoly presence in the marketplace. I'd love to shoot Judge Kollar-Kotelly myself over the bad decision-making that happened with the antitrust lawsuit against Microsoft. With each and every little trick that gets exposed, the further I pull away from ever considering using their products for anything at all. If it weren't for the work I'm doing in medical transcription, with a VBscript application overlay on top of Word used by my employer, I'd have no need whatsoever for Microsoft's software.

Re:Heavy Foot (1)

smilindog2000 (907665) | more than 6 years ago | (#22109082)

Good bait for discussion, and always a fun topic! Many (most?) of us here already have dropped Microsoft. I'm not anit-Microsoft, I'm pro-Microsoft. Any company beating up the world with a US based monopoly is a company I want to stay strong. I don't happen to use any Microsoft products because they don't suit my needs as well as Linux, and I'm busy warping my children's minds by cutting their teeth on Ubuntu, Open Office, and FOSS games. I also taught them basic shapes as children: circle, square, triangle, and-gate, or-gate, mux... it was fun the other day to show my seven-year old daughter the TI TTL Databook and see her surprise when she realized she could read it! The Joe Sixpacks of the world are welcome to keep paying Microsoft their hard-earned money for software that's inferior to the free stuff... I'm all for it. They're also welcome to remain ignorant of how things really work. Joe Sixpack was made for Microsoft. So long as it helps the US, I'm all for it.

Re:Heavy Foot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22110370)

So, how does Jack Thompson's dick taste these days? Congratulations, you're a redneck jingoist! Please stay south of the Mason-Dixon line, where you belong.

Re:Heavy Foot (1)

donweel (304991) | more than 6 years ago | (#22110324)


I have overheard conversations like this more than once:
" Hey that iMac looks nice and we are sick of viruses but we have a couple of teenagers, does this run MsM?"
" Well it does sort of but it does not have all the features, but you can use this Parallels or BootCamp."
"Hmmm I see"

Very confused by new Slashdot post filter thing. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22107954)

I'm very confused by the new comment filter overlay thing that's now used here at Slashdot. All I want to do is view all posts, from -1 up, nested. This was so easy to do before, but now I can't for the life of me figure out how to do it with this new system. Help, anyone?

Can I disable it without creating an account, and just go back to the old dropdown lists that actually worked?

Re:Very confused by new Slashdot post filter thing (1)

thegnu (557446) | more than 6 years ago | (#22108400)

I think you will find [reddit.com] a satisfactory solutution [digg.com] by clicking this link [kuro5hin.org]

Re:Very confused by new Slashdot post filter thing (1)

neomunk (913773) | more than 6 years ago | (#22109246)

LOL, I'm sorry, but I must say, your post seemed to me a little like this:

'The blade on ole' Excalibur here is a bit scuffed, and just before I go battle the Green Knight (read: RIAA, Microsoft, whatever)'

'Well, here, try this Ginsu knife!'

Your solution is funny, but just not effective.

Re:Very confused by new Slashdot post filter thing (1)

thegnu (557446) | more than 6 years ago | (#22109470)

That was more or less what I was going for. But the question was 'I don't want to use solution A that is provided for me. Are there other solutions?' And my answer was, 'Of course! Solutions B through Z!'

But I was dabbling in a bit of jerkofferry, I admit.

Evil is Microsoft's most important product? (5, Funny)

Futurepower(R) (558542) | more than 6 years ago | (#22107970)

Quote from the Fortune article: "This is a great example of why Google is the leader ... and Microsoft is not..."

Microsoft: Do evil if evil makes money? Or, Microsoft: Evil is our most important product, making money is secondary?

Re:Evil is Microsoft's most important product? (1)

Adambomb (118938) | more than 6 years ago | (#22108124)

Nah, the Venn of Evil and Making Money overlaps.

not EQUAL sets maybe, but a good chunk of intersection =).

Re:Evil is Microsoft's most important product? (1)

david_thornley (598059) | more than 6 years ago | (#22108308)

From what limited inside knowledge I have, the motto is "Make money." Evil has nothing to do with it, aside from the fact that the overwhelming desire to make lots and lots of money can be thoroughly evil. "Love of money is the root of all evil", Ecclesiastes something or other, or maybe something else. Not entirely true, since there's other evils, but at least there's a pretty old and possibly authoritative principle here.

Re:Evil is Microsoft's most important product? (4, Informative)

gmack (197796) | more than 6 years ago | (#22108646)

Actually the quote from Ecclesiastes is "The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil." The missing word is quite significant. For some reason it's one of the most often misquoted scriptures.

Re:Evil is Microsoft's most important product? (1)

david_thornley (598059) | more than 6 years ago | (#22109162)

My apologies, thank you for the correction. The usual form I see is "Money is the root of all evil", which is even farther from the original.

Re:Evil is Microsoft's most important product? (1)

FlexAgain (26958) | more than 6 years ago | (#22109826)

gmack said:
Actually the quote from Ecclesiastes is "The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil." The missing word is quite significant. For some reason it's one of the most often misquoted scriptures.

...and is apparently often misattributed as well, since that quote comes from Timothy 6:10, not Ecclesiastes.

Re:Evil is Microsoft's most important product? (1)

websitebroke (996163) | more than 6 years ago | (#22110114)

Doing a quick search using GnomeSword, I found the following in 1 Timothy 6:10:

(Analytical-Literal Translation)
For the love of money is a root of all evils, of which some by longing for [it] went astray [or, wandered away] from the faith and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

(English Standard Version)
For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.

(King James Version)
For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

(American Standard Version)
For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil: which some reaching after have been led astray from the faith, and have pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

Looks like it totally depends upon which version you read. (And GnomeSword is handy because you can view up to 5 texts side by side)

Re:Evil is Microsoft's most important product? (1)

jbengt (874751) | more than 6 years ago | (#22111318)

Does anyone have a quote from the "original" Greek?

Re:Evil is Microsoft's most important product? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22110244)

And the quote from the New Testament (1 Timothy 6:10, NAB) is "For the love of money is the root of all evils, and some people in their desire for it have strayed from the faith and have pierced themselves with many pains". The common misquote in my experience is that "Money is the root of all evil". In fact money in not good or bad in itself, it is the misplaced love of money that is the problem.

SB

Re:Evil is Microsoft's most important product? (1)

alext (29323) | more than 6 years ago | (#22110386)

Not Ecclesiastes, Timothy 6:10.

And of course translations differ, I see one does actually omit the "missing" word here. [scripturetext.com]

Bill Gates is said to be depressed -- A "sorrow"? (1)

Futurepower(R) (558542) | more than 6 years ago | (#22110562)

Parallel Translations of 1 Timothy 6-10 [bible.cc] :

"For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs." -- New American Standard Bible [scripturetext.com]

"For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil: which some reaching after have been led astray from the faith, and have pierced themselves through with many sorrows." -- American Standard Version [asvbible.com]

But most of the other translations leave out "all kinds of" and say "all".

It says the author is Paul of Tarsus. The source we have of the writing is from the Peschito Syriac of the second century. -- Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary [biblecommenter.com]

Judging from one example, Bill Gates, the idea is supported. Bill Gates is said to suffer from depression. Depression is certainly a "sorrow".

Re:Evil is Microsoft's most important product? (2, Interesting)

Mike Arnautov (1152261) | more than 6 years ago | (#22110084)

I seem to recall that a few years back (quite a few years back) His Gateness was being quited in computing press as deriding other businessmen for their "merely finite" greed.

Bill Gates disagrees with Paul of Tarsus. (1)

Futurepower(R) (558542) | more than 6 years ago | (#22111064)

From the New York Times September 3, 1995 article Running on the Fastest Track [nytimes.com] : "Gates, suddenly reassured, interrupted, 'So they have finite greed.' " Finite greed, it seems, is a term of derision in the Gates vernacular.

It seems that Bill Gates is admired for only one thing, being the richest person. I have never heard of anyone admiring Bill Gates for anything else. Apparently people don't want to be him.

Easy Solution (1)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 6 years ago | (#22108002)

Why not use Trillian's format? Oh, wait...

Why isn't IM distributed? (1, Insightful)

harlows_monkeys (106428) | more than 6 years ago | (#22108014)

The idea of IM providers like Google and MS and AOL and Yahoo seems broken to me. Why isn't IM a distributed system, like email, with a standardized protocol?

In fact, if you think about it a bit, it isn't hard to come up with a design that would work a lot like email. You have a local IM server (or your ISP provides one). You have a record like mail's MX record in your DNS data that points to your IM server. When you want to IM me, your IM server looks up my IM server in my DNS record, and connects to my IM server, and our clients then talk to each other, relaying through our IM servers.

Re:Why isn't IM distributed? (4, Informative)

s4m7 (519684) | more than 6 years ago | (#22108060)

In fact, google's IM protocol is based on Jabber. [jabber.org]

from their about page:

Decentralized -- the architecture of the Jabber network is similar to email; as a result, anyone can run their own Jabber server, enabling individuals and organizations to take control of their IM experience.

Re:Why isn't IM distributed? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22108066)

Re:Why isn't IM distributed? (4, Funny)

Stradenko (160417) | more than 6 years ago | (#22108080)

Thanks for describing XMPP.

Re:Why isn't IM distributed? (1)

dotancohen (1015143) | more than 6 years ago | (#22110070)

Thanks for describing XMPP.
Jabber is XMMP [what-is-what.com] . From the article (disclaimer: I wrote it): "Jabber is the trade name of the XMPP instant messaging protocol."

Re:Why isn't IM distributed? (1)

_merlin (160982) | more than 6 years ago | (#22108084)

Well, Jabber (as used by Google Talk) is distributed. You can log on with to any Jabber server you have an account with, and you should be able to talk to users on any other Jabber server. Google just happen to have a lot of people with accounts on their Jabber server.

Re:Why isn't IM distributed? (5, Informative)

imbaczek (690596) | more than 6 years ago | (#22108086)

that idea is so good that it's been implemented quite some time ago [wikipedia.org] .

As other pointed out (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 6 years ago | (#22108152)

That google is based on XMPP/Jabber, but even AOL is jumping onboard with it. I imagine it is only a bit of time before yahoo will also see the light. The ONLY one that will strive to remain off it will be MS. But you can bet that once they do, it will be with an interesting extension (and very closed one).

Re:As other pointed out (1)

FireFury03 (653718) | more than 6 years ago | (#22110254)

The ONLY one that will strive to remain off it will be MS. But you can bet that once they do, it will be with an interesting extension (and very closed one).

I read an article from an MS person the other day stating that MS were in the process of designing a new proprietary protocol to replace the existing MSN one and were working on some method of allowing interoperability with Google. I was left thinking that using XMPP instead of a new proprietary thing would have been a good start if they wanted interoperability. :)

If MS do start interoperating with other IM services and they change their own protocol to some new proprietary thing at the same time, I could see them losing a lot of their users. Suddenly you'd be able to talk to all your MSN contacts from your XMPP account but your multiprotocol IM client would no longer be able to talk to MSN, so people would just move to XMPP en masse.

That said, MS have a bit of a problem with joining the XMPP network because they allow people to use their own domain - i.e. you can have an MSN address of you@yourdomain.com and it would still need to go via the MSN servers. The only way I can see them handling this would be to have XMPP addresses in the form you@yourdomain.com@msn.com or similar.

Re:Why isn't IM distributed? (1)

MLCT (1148749) | more than 6 years ago | (#22108190)

The other replies have correctly highlighted XMPP. What your question really gets at is *why* this hasn't been widely adopted. The basic answer is the moneterization of the internet - commercial exploitation, not only for the purposes of making money, but of attempting to control the underlying network structure to exclude competitors.

I think the most frightening thought of all is what would the net be like if it was designed from the ground up by the likes of MS & AOL a decade ago. In reality they just built on what was already there - a consequence which means that I can successfully, efficiently and easily email you no matter what ISP or OS you have. If the likes of MS had been given the opportunity to control these services then the internet today would be a truly appalling place - think of the IM mess branched out to *every* protocol. Email, http, ftp. It is just an unfortunate consequence that IM wasn't as accepted when MS, AOL, Yahoo et al were building their services - hence they all got greedy. The result? The result is always what happens when rampant greed goes unchecked - the customer gets shafted because the shareholders are all that matter.

Re:Why isn't IM distributed? (1)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 6 years ago | (#22108780)

What your question really gets at is *why* this hasn't been widely adopted.

Are you sure that it hasn't been? I run an ejabberd server for my company for internal IM, but we didn't exactly take out an ad to announce it. I think Jabber/XMPP are probably a lot more widespread than you'd think.

Re:Why isn't IM distributed? (1)

MLCT (1148749) | more than 6 years ago | (#22109268)

I'm sure they are used - but if you want to look at raw numbers (and especially in a "consumer" environment) then the numbers from the proprietary closed non-XMPP networks dwarfs everything else.

Re:Why isn't IM distributed? (1)

FireFury03 (653718) | more than 6 years ago | (#22110354)

I'm sure they are used - but if you want to look at raw numbers (and especially in a "consumer" environment) then the numbers from the proprietary closed non-XMPP networks dwarfs everything else.

I'm continually amazed by the number of businesses who discuss their top secret business deals over MSN... I mean, sure - Microsoft probably aren't analysing your IMs, but do you want to take the risk when you could just set up your own XMPP server and keep the conversations local?

Re:Why isn't IM distributed? (1)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 6 years ago | (#22111002)

I'm continually amazed by the number of businesses who discuss their top secret business deals over MSN... I mean, sure - Microsoft probably aren't analysing your IMs, but do you want to take the risk when you could just set up your own XMPP server and keep the conversations local?

That is precisely the argument that convinced my boss. We send all sorts of information through our internal server: passwords, account information, etc. Since the service has its S2S function disabled and is on a machine with a private IP anyway, it's as safe as anything else on our network.

Re:Why isn't IM distributed? (1)

FireFury03 (653718) | more than 6 years ago | (#22110314)

I think the most frightening thought of all is what would the net be like if it was designed from the ground up by the likes of MS & AOL a decade ago. ...
If the likes of MS had been given the opportunity to control these services then the internet today would be a truly appalling place - think of the IM mess branched out to *every* protocol.


Sounds rather like the original MSN and AOL to me. The only reason they didn't take off was because the Internet (or probably more precisely, the World Wide Web) had more content and allowed people to publish their own (which is why it had more :).

Re:Why isn't IM distributed? (1)

Eggplant62 (120514) | more than 6 years ago | (#22108268)

Look at the current situation with SMTP and it being abused by spammers, and I think you see why IM isn't modeled in the same manner. Sure, there are lots of assholes abusing IM to spam like crazy, but I must say that I don't see anywhere near the amount of bogus IM messages on my Yahoo! IM account that I used to. I wonder what changed?

So, the real question (4, Interesting)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 6 years ago | (#22108016)

why are they still playing with MS? MS will ALWAYS pull these illegal actions. All the companies have to do is quit playing in MS's back yard.

What amazes me, is that MS does not buy companies who are on their platform. They just strongarm them and steal as be needed. Instead, they buy companies who could represent a threat to their platform or are making money hand over fist (the 2 tend to go hand in hand). So, by being in Windows, a startup not only pays much higher costs, but they also kill off a huge chunk of the market that would otherwise drive up their price, and then subject themselves to MS's hand.

Oblig. Simpsons Ref. - 5F11 - Das Bus (2, Funny)

mikelieman (35628) | more than 6 years ago | (#22110066)

Back at the peaceful Simpsons house. Homer is reading "Internet for Dummies".

HOMER
Oh, they have the Internet on computers now!

MARGE
Homer, Bill Gates is here.

HOMER
Bill Gates?! Millionaire computer nerd Bill Gates! Oh my god. Oh my god. Get out of sight, Marge. I don't want this to look like a two-bit operation.

Marge groans and rolls her eyes. Bill Gates and two "associates" enter.

GATES
Mr. Simpson?

HOMER
You don't look so rich.

GATES
Don't let the haircut fool you, I am exceedingly wealthy.

HOMER
(quietly to Marge) Get a load of the bowl-job, Marge!

GATES
Your Internet ad was brought to my attention, but I can't figure out what, if anything, CompuGlobalHyperMegaNet does, so rather than risk competing with you, I've decided simply to buy you out.

Homer and Marge step aside to talk privately.

HOMER
This is it Marge. I've poured my heart and soul into this business and now it's finally paying off. (covering his mouth) We're rich! Richer than astronauts.

MARGE
Homer quiet. Acquire the deal.

HOMER
(to Gates) I reluctantly accept your proposal!

GATES
Well everyone always does. Buy 'em out, boys!

Bill Gates companions begin to trash the "office".

HOMER
Hey, what the hell's going on!

GATES
Oh, I didn't get rich by writing a lot of checks!

Bill Gates lets out a maniacal laugh. Homer and Marge cower in the corner as the room continues to be trashed.

It's security, stupid (4, Funny)

nbauman (624611) | more than 6 years ago | (#22108026)

From TFA:

Hall said that Microsoft's main concern, and the reason it sent out Big Foot letters in the first place, was security.
Well, of course. Think of the children.

probably not what you meant, but I couldn't resist (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22108510)

Well, of course. Think of the children.

hmmmm....
HMMMMMM......
*fap* *fap* *fap* *fap* *fap* *fap* *fap* *fap* *fap* *fap* *fap* *fap* *fap* *fap* *fap* *fap* *fap* *fap* *fap* *fap* *fap* *fap* *fap* *fap* *fap* *fap* *fap* *fap* *fap* *fap* *fap* *fap* *fap* *fap* *fap* *fap* *fap* *fap* *fap* *fap* ...

*clicks post anonymously*

Re:It's security, stupid (1)

adnd74 (1022357) | more than 6 years ago | (#22109740)

so as far as security goes and...:'Hall said that Microsoft's main concern, and the reason it sent out Big Foot letters in the first place, was security. "If you look at what a number of sites are doing, they're asking for your Hotmail login info, They're storing your identity, which is not a best practices [approach] for anyone's data from a security standpoint. We want to make sure our data is kept between our users and our servers."' Wait a second, my company never asked for my Hotmail info, but I have a few computers at my desk at work, and the versions (yes multiple versions of Windows) all have asked me to associate my MSN passport with my user account, and MSN messenger runs by default wanting a password stored locally. So lets talk about this security that Microsoft is trying to keep my info safe, yet while my company has never asked to store this info, ,my operating system wants this info on a regular basis. So my company is not the security problem, its the operating system that is manufactured by the same people who have made this comment, wow... going around in these circles is making me dizzy!

Mess them up! (2, Informative)

baadger (764884) | more than 6 years ago | (#22108068)

Now seems like a good time to put in a plug for the Mess.be [www.mess.be] Mess Patch [patch.mess.be] , which can strip out all the bloat, all the ads and all the 'extra services and features' that come with Windows Live Messenger and leave you with a relatively clean and usable client.

On a somewhat related note, have Vista users noticed the new 'Live' programs available optionally through Windows Update?

Re:Mess them up! (2, Insightful)

BenoitRen (998927) | more than 6 years ago | (#22108110)

Or you could, you know, use an alternative client to access the MSN network.

Re:Mess them up! (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22108412)

Like this one:
http://www.pidgin.im/ [pidgin.im]

Re:Mess them up! (1)

jZnat (793348) | more than 6 years ago | (#22110302)

Besides Kopete [kde.org] , what other clients support video-chat via MSN?

Re:Mess them up! (1)

BenoitRen (998927) | more than 6 years ago | (#22110410)

I thought video chat was considered bloat in an Instant Message client.

Re Live in Windows update (1)

SEMW (967629) | more than 6 years ago | (#22108950)

On a somewhat related note, have Vista users noticed the new 'Live' programs available optionally through Windows Update?
No...? I've just had a thorough look around the Vista Windows Update window, and there's nothing in there at all about Live programs. I've only ever had updates for Windows. What exactly are you referring to?

(There is a link which says "Get updates for more products" which takes you to a page where you can download Microsoft update (as opposed to Windows updated) which presumably would give you updates to Live products, but you have to actively choose to install that).

Anal ogy (5, Funny)

fulldecent (598482) | more than 6 years ago | (#22108078)

A piece of software without MSN integration is like a dog without bricks tied around its neck.

Broken up (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 6 years ago | (#22108252)

They should have been broken up after being found a monopoly. There is little to stop them from doing things like this.

What f'king "site license"??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22108262)

The article is a mess. It makes no sense whatsoever. Better luck next time.

Sometimes I really wonder why I bother to read news online...

Blatant monopoly abuse (1, Troll)

Eternal Annoyance (815010) | more than 6 years ago | (#22108316)

This is activity intent on stifling competition, MSN messenger has been bundled with windows for a while now and gives microsoft an unfair advantage on the IM market (nearly everyone buying a computer, gets windows and so windows messenger (which is a stripped down version of MSN messenger)). Now, Microsoft tries to /scare/ other companies into only allowing MSN to be used as IM client for their social network sites. In other words: they're trying to use their dominant market position, which was gained by illegal means, to force companies to strengthen Microsoft's position in the market even further. I wonder what the EU will think of this kind behavior from Microsoft.

Re:Blatant monopoly abuse (1)

SEMW (967629) | more than 6 years ago | (#22109052)

MSN messenger has been bundled with windows for a while now and gives microsoft an unfair advantage on the IM market (nearly everyone buying a computer, gets windows and so windows messenger (which is a stripped down version of MSN messenger)). ... In other words: they're trying to use their dominant market position, which was gained by illegal means, to force companies to strengthen Microsoft's position in the market even further. I wonder what the EU will think of this kind behavior from Microsoft.
Nice rant, pity it doesn't have a foundation. MSN messenger (/WIndows Live messenger) hasn't been bundled with Windows for over a year now; probably precisely because of worries about EU intervention.

Parity Error (4, Insightful)

NullProg (70833) | more than 6 years ago | (#22108352)

We put the question to Brian Hall, general manager for Windows Live. "We want the user to be in control of their stuff," he told me. "We believe strongly that it's the user's data, it's the user's choice."

Oh really? What about Secure Audio Path and the other draconian DRM measures in Windows.

Microsoft must be running for public office. Say one thing, do another.

Enjoy,

Re:Parity Error (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22109482)

Microsoft isn't a person. Several people working there can have different conflicting opinions on different things.

Re:Parity Error (1)

jabelli (1144769) | more than 6 years ago | (#22111132)

Oh really? What about Secure Audio Path and the other draconian DRM measures in Windows.

Who said Microsoft wanted them? It's the MAFIAA's fault.

Look, I bitch and moan about MS all the time (I am, after all, a Windows/Pocket PC developer), and sometimes they do fuck up, but don't blame them for things they're not really in control of.

OSX doesn't have it, because it's not that much of the market (yet). Linux doesn't have it because it's also not much of the market, and you couldn't force people to compile it into the kernel anyway.

Security wasn't hardly mentioned (3, Insightful)

mgkimsal2 (200677) | more than 6 years ago | (#22108382)

They mentioned they wanted to keep data secure, but there was no mention from anyone interviewed (anonymously), that MS was demanding a security audit of the companies' systems. That would be an interesting approach to take. You can access our data for $x/user/year, but we'll waive the fee if you submit to an audit to prove that you'll be handling the data in a secure manner. I still wouldn't agree with the practice, but it would have been a more PR-savvy move to take. "We're protecting this customer data, but still allowing the user to take their data with them, etc". During their audit, they might just happen to find that Oracle, DB2, PostgreSQL and MySQL aren't as 'secure' as MSSQL, and 'suggest' that companies use MSSQL in the mix as well for user data, but that's just a conspiracy theorist mindset at that point. :)

It's still the "data doark ages" (1)

WebCowboy (196209) | more than 6 years ago | (#22110452)

You can access our data for $x/user/year, but we'll waive the fee if you submit to an audit to prove that you'll be handling the data in a secure manner.

How is this acceptable? It's like paying an indulgence to the Pope for your sins every year so you can keep committing sins. If I'm entrusting my data to someone else then adequate security should be MANDATORY.

During their audit, they might just happen to find that Oracle, DB2, PostgreSQL and MySQL aren't as 'secure' as MSSQL, and 'suggest' that companies use MSSQL in the mix as well for user data

So "Pope William III" directs us not to eat "oracle fish" on Fridays? Aside from the claim MSSQL is somehow superior is terms of security being ludicrous, I don't think PR people could spin this away from the blatant attempt that it is to use their leverage in the database market.

We need a Martin Luther of the digital age it seems.

Anyways, we are still in the dark ages, with silos of replicated, dated information all over the place. Our personal data is replicated, transmitted, sold and resold as if it was THEIR data. It's OURS and WE should have full control. We're approaching the age where we could technically have meaningful control our personal information--we could all keep all our own data and easily see who we've given it to and what it's used for. It would be a monumental task to achieve a standard, interoperable yet secure infrastructure to do this, but it is quite possible to do. But being the dark ages, we still have "data lords" and a feudal system of digital serf identities, and those "lords" are using that very technology that could lead to a "renaissance" to try to maintain and expand their kingdoms. Instead of "open IDs" and standard protocols and sane encryption and authentication policies we have hidden protocols, "25 cents per user anuually", draconian DRM so the "MafIAA" can control data created by artists and used by honest paying customers.

I still hold out hope--if things get REALLY bad people will revolt.

According to Fortune? (0, Offtopic)

atmelinside (1026054) | more than 6 years ago | (#22108440)

Fortune says many different things. Let's see:
$ /usr/games/fortune

In most countries selling harmful things like drugs is punishable. Then howcome people can sell Microsoft software and go unpunished? -- Hasse Skrifvars, hasku@rost.abo.fi,

Uh-huh... (4, Informative)

IonOtter (629215) | more than 6 years ago | (#22108702)

I used Messenger a few times? Then I found out that my user/pass was the same for my Hotmail account, AND my Passport. I remember I was using my Passport account to purchase something, when I suddenly realized, "Hey...my credit card info is tied to my Hotmail and MSN Messenger password..."

I promptly deleted the credit card info, changed the user info, scrambled the password by mashing the keyboard with a copy&paste and changed the email to a free Hushmail account that would go away in 30 days.

They've since changed that practice, but MS hasn't offered me anything worthwhile to bring me back.

Easy solution (4, Insightful)

Arcturax (454188) | more than 6 years ago | (#22108738)

Make Microsoft look like assholes and make sure users know it's MS's fault.

On your social networking/Web 2.0, 3.0, 4.0, whatever site allow users to import from AIM, YIM and Google. However for MSN, grey out the option and next to it in red put "Due to legal pressure by Microsoft, if you use MSN, you must manually import your contacts" and give a link to a tedious page that restates this reason and make them upload them one at a time.

Naturally users are going to be rather upset at MS and wonder if maybe they should switch to AIM instead.

Re:Easy solution (2, Insightful)

lukas84 (912874) | more than 6 years ago | (#22109798)

LOL no.

Do you really believe that?

While a technical person might react like this, they're not the target group. If a teenager has his clique on MSN, nothing will change that.

Re:Easy solution (2, Insightful)

dotancohen (1015143) | more than 6 years ago | (#22110138)

You mean, to tell users the truth instead of bending over backwards to support MS?

froSt pist (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22109284)

nned to scream that would be a bad Baby take my All know we want. say I'm packing Man walking. It's ultimately, we Come on baby...and risk looking even rules to follow

All your Word(s) (0, Offtopic)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 6 years ago | (#22109998)

All your Word(s) are belong to us. Resistance is futile, you will be assimilated. Bow before your god! Hmmm, they all apply quite nicely to MS.

mod uP (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22110154)

Some thoughts (3, Insightful)

PPH (736903) | more than 6 years ago | (#22110250)

I'm not a lawyer, but it seems to me that any contract terms that offer a discount for 100% of someone's business is restraint of trade and runs afoul of the Sherman Antitrust Act. Volume discounts are OK, based upon some threshold quantities. But 100% is simply a test for the exclusion of other suppliers.


I'm not an economist, but placing barriers on the export of contact information from Hotmail reduces the value of the Hotmail service. If the cost to move a particular piece of data from within one system to any other is higher than moving it in the other direction, its value inside that high cost system is lower by that amount.

Microsoft??? Trying to strongarm someone????? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22110832)

I'm aghast!!!!!!!

TFA: grammar checked by MS Word? (1)

gr8scot (1172435) | more than 6 years ago | (#22111052)

(Hmmm, will Facebook--in which Microsoft is a minority investor--be next to make Messenger it's official IM client?)

Easy answer (1)

billcopc (196330) | more than 6 years ago | (#22111348)

I propose the one-finger solution.

Social networks only use the contact importing feature to jump-start new users. Once the initial batch is out, most new links are added through mutual friends. It wouldn't be a huge loss to get rid of the Hotmail import and just expect people to manually add 3-4 friends at first, or search for them by name.

Microsoft needs to be reminded they're not indispensable in this world. The internet existed for a long time without any MS input, and I personally don't use much of what they offer - none of the "Live" services except for MSN Messenger, and I could easily coax most of my contacts to switch over to something else.
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