So I noticed the MSN Messenger Activity SDK is up and available for download. That said, note the following restrictions (just one of many interesting items):
Activity API Restrictions
Your MSN Messenger Activity must not contain any functionality that would normally be controlled by the MSN Messenger client. This includes (but is not limited to) the following items:
- Instant messaging
- File transfer (for example, digital photos or sound files)
- Audio conversation capabilities
- Control of a Web camera or use of a video conferencing session
- Application sharing
- Creation of a white board space
So basically do not come up with anything that ads to instant messaging - like say encryption? Do not come up with an easy way to share family photos? Do not come up with a neat way of using a camera - like checking in on your house? Under no circumstance come up with a meeting like experience... And so it goes. My question is - what does this leave for an innovator to look at? Games? Tic-Tac-Toe? How disappointing... This is not to mention that developers have to then submit all of the work to get approved, including potentially sending source code and such.
Can you imagine if Windows itself was like this? Yeah, perhaps it would be more secure and less prone to crashes, but I tell you this, it would also not exist. Turn the scenario around and ask Microsoft to turn over source code and watch the fur fly.
I would love to here what Scoble has to say about this one...Sep 9, 2005 at 11:01 PM in IM
Microsoft Web Plan takes aim at Google - via News.com
Now this may be what I wanted... Very exciting. It appears Scoble either did not know or was playing a masterful game of poker (okay - I am not sure how masterful, but it sounded better). Here is another link (via Dare Obasanjo) worth checking out. I must say that while I am not entirely surprised because of the open Google release, this does appear to be a departure from previous actions. I do recall that in 2002/2003 there were plans to open up the system, but all of a sudden it closed up to only the IMLogic's of the world. Either way, 2+ years later, this could be good news for the developer.
And, no, Chris Payne, I didn't make any deals with Joe to open up MSN Messenger's APIs. Although if we had continued drinking the wine Buzz brought you never know! ;-)
I know this is meant to be funny, but I honestly wish Scoble would have had more to drink and signed an agreement. No I am not joking. As I have already stated in the above linked items, it serves not only customers, but Microsoft too. There has been (at least in the past and if the above is any indication, continues to be) this walled garden approach and attitude within the MSN Messenger group. Yes, I know MSN is a "separate" part of Microsoft, but I would say it is important to recall how Windows became ubiquitous and it was not by being closed... not by being what Apple became. I know a little more than I am writing, but I think now is the time for the Messenger group to wake up before the competition forces it down their throats. This is not just about Messenger either, but Messenger is an example of an oft repeated mistake... Once again, another reminder of the lesson learned via search engines. Say it with me, developers, developers, developers developers! They are the gardeners, planters, seeders and nurturers of the Microsoft ecosystem... they are not to be feared.
I think it is also prudent to remember a big reason Windows has been and or was so successful: Windows provided a platform for other companies to innovate, not just Microsoft.
I will say again, by enabling other companies to roll out products and innovations around a platform, this takes the onus off the platform maker, creates a market and sells more platform product; in this case Google product. I only wish other companies such as Microsoft (MSN Messenger and related), Yahoo!, AOL AIM (although they have a plugin interface) would do the same.
Perhaps sometime I will recount my experience with Microsoft and their MSN Messenger group. There are many interesting gems there... But I digress.
By now, it is all around the web - Google has launched the beta of Google Talk. As Joe Wilcox notes, there seems to be a lot of buzz about just another messaging client. After all, what is the big deal about another IM client? I agree, there is nothing exciting about adding a new client - however a new open platform is very exciting! Google Talk uses the Jabber/ XMPP protocol which is not new, but its use by a potentially large public service is new. Moreover, visit the Google Talk page and you will see a link describing client choice for connecting. So what you say? The page also states:
"The Google Talk service is built to support industry standards. You can connect to the Google Talk service using Google's own client, as well as many other IM clients developed by third parties."
Google Talk represents a new platform! If Google follows through on the openness indicated above, vendors will be able to roll their own applications and innovations for the XMPP platform for a (potentially) large top tier service. To my knowledge (although I have not checked in the last 8 months), MSN, AIM, Yahoo! etc. not only do not encourage third party use, in many cases they shut down the service to third parties. On rare occasions some aspects are opened up, but generally, a customer must connect with their client or an authorized client. Furthermore, each one of the aforementioned services have their own protocol and their own system - thus each client is capable of doing only what the service provider has developed. Of course being proprietary is their right, but this also makes using or finding third party innovations hard to find, hard to count on and a bit clunky because the services do not necessarily want third party software to work in the first place.