Without diminishing the importance of yesterday’s announcement by Yahoo (YHOO) and Microsoft (MSFT) that their IM clouds now interoperate, none of us should be hailing this as anything more than it actually is — two underdogs teaming up to try to beat the incumbent (in this case, AOL). Neither Yahoo, nor Microsoft, despite the positioning, have done anything more than open a gate between their walled gardens. There is an undeniable benefit to consumers, but the benefit that has been offered is to remove just one of the many IM clients you currently have on your desktop.
What is needed is true interoperability. The players in the industry need to move to a common standard, be that XMPP, or SIP/SIMPLE, and provide mechanisms for individual users to present credentials and authorize on any network. What is the equivalent of cell phone roaming in the IM world?
We should take heart in Yahoo’s Brad Garlinghouse statement that they welcome other players to the table.
“We certainly welcome seeing other industry players come to the table,” Yahoo’s Garlinghouse said. “We’re blazing a trail for how interoperability is done.”
Great move Microsoft and Yahoo. We’re eagerly awaiting your next step. What would really give us all hope is to see an open interoperability specification published.