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AOL invites Lotus into the IM fold

See, look how nice we are (now we control the market)

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AOL has invited Lotus into its instant messaging Bedouin tent with the announcement of an "interoperability trial".

The trial will see the companies using the SIMPLE protocol to get AOL's AIM system working with Lotus' Sametime. SIMPLE stands for Session Initiation Protocol for Instant Messaging and Presence
Leveraging (where's the "E"?) and is currently under consideration to become a standard by the IETF (Internet Engineering Taskforce).

According to the press release, the trial is "a part of America Online's ongoing efforts to explore how to
enable interoperability between AOL and third party IM systems in a secure and reliable manner". And we thought it was because the company had been ordered to let its market-leading instant messaging software work with its competitors' products as part of its mega-merger with Time Warner, rather than actively make sure they didn't, like in the past.

AOL's AIM almost controls the IM market, with only Microsoft's Messenger service getting near - now how did the Beast of Redmond pull that off?

Despite being told to do so, AOL does stand to gain by letting others' products work with its own because MS is doing its old trick of tying in MSN Messenger with its latest version of Explorer and its new OS Windows XP. It won't last long in its own bubble.

AOL is also using the relaxation of Microsoft's controls on PC companies having to put MS icons on the desktop to push its instant messenger (and its ISP service of course).

The president of Interactive Properties [snort] at AOL starting saying: "We are very pleased to be moving forward with Lotus in this upcoming trial. Lotus' market-leading expertise in real-time collaboration and messaging software will be of great benefit as we examine", but we decided to stop listening to save our brains dripping out our ears.

The general manager [proper job title] of Lotus Software, Al Zollar made a little more sense when he said: "We're excited to join AOL in this endeavour and potentially create larger opportunities for IM interoperability. The trial is a significant step in leveraging the power and widespread use of AOL's AIM technology and the versatility of a real-time collaboration offering such as Lotus Sametime."

So it looks as though AOL is slowly coming good on its promises. Not too quickly though. ®

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