Can't Get Much Faster than Instant
by Dave Watson
Instant messaging is getting to be "big time." You may have read about it being included in the implications of the AOL-Time Warner merger. USA Today in
July 1999 discussed the competition between AOL and Microsoft, and the coming advertising revenue potential. AOL is believed to have $100 million in backlogged revenue for instant messaging banner ads. The Washington Post updated it this month with an
article that lays out the current state pretty thoroughly. Search Yahoo and others to find discussions on CNET, ZDNet and elsewhere on how the recent US Government approval of AOL's merger with Time Warner included some very limited conditions which some felt was a sweetheart deal by the outgoing administration. This might change if the new administration is less hostile to Microsoft.
What is instant messaging?
It's an Internet tool that lets a server know when you are online, and notifies you and your friends when you're both online. Then you can send notes to your online friends in real-time. The New York Times came out with a
Primer on it this month. AOL started a messaging concept in their software as far back as 1989. Miribilis made it popular with a tool called ICQ in the '90s, and AOL jumped on board with a proprietary function called Buddy Lists in 1996, then expanded it in 1997 to permit non-subscribers to join the AOL Instant Messaging network, and finally bought Miribilis in 1998 to cement the non-Microsoft competition. Then in 1999, Microsoft started their Messenger service for Microsoft Network users, and included a feature that allowed AOL and AIM users to coexist with Microsoft subscribers. This brought out AOL's lawyers who used the courts in fine American tradition to force Microsoft to stop communicating with AOL's messaging servers.
The Washington Post article cited above says AOL has about 140 million registered subscribers, including 80 million on ICQ. A survey last August suggested 21.5 million in the US on AIM, 9.1 on ICQ, 10.6 million on Yahoo and 10.3 million on Microsoft Messenger. And they have client software for Windows, Mac, various flavors of Unix...
So what do we do about it in Warp?
If you go to the
Absolute Authority on Instant Messaging and search on OS2, you get "Unfortunately, there were no results for your search terms." Many of us have learned that's not the end of it. We discussed apps in SCOUG chats and the club's Internet SIG meetings, before it became cool.
If you go to Hobbes and search on "instant," you find aimjava2.zip, a 1998 Java version of the AOL Instant Messenger. We also saw an
Odin port of AIM at the January SCOUG General Interest Group meeting that was rated a "5" and looks very promising.
You can also find a utility called jabber05.zip at Hobbes. This is a separate protocol, and is a native OS/2 application which requires EMX 0.9C runtime (also available at Hobbes).
If ICQ is to your liking, there is a Java version of ICQ at
http://www.icq.com/products. There's also a Win16 version if you want to try it under Win-OS2. And there's a Russian-built clone called IceCQ which is available at
BMT Micro for $16. You can get a trial version free from
OS2.ru. See PC World for a good set of tips on using ICQ.
Yahoo, Excite and others have their own versions.
Yahoo has a Java version.
So what's in store?
There are open standards being advocated by
Internet Engineering Task Force. The IETF site includes several draft and RFC standards for this service. Other services such as Yahoo may become popular. But you can bet that Microsoft will become a major player, possibly cornering this market and subverting the emerging standards. Avoiding future dependence on Microsoft standards may best be achieved by supporting an alternative.
The OS/2 community is declining, and can best look out for its interests by pulling together. This depends on shared projects, and shared communications. This could be enhanced by a consensus to use the Internet and instant messaging to stay in touch. This would mean we need to agree on a common standard. I propose that we try some of the above tools, and register with various services and try them out. We should discuss our observations and agree on the best overall solution. Then we should begin using it to talk with each other.
If we don't communicate, we might as well start learning Windows.
Comments? Questions? Information to share?
You can reach the author at
Dave@SCOUG.com. Don't be shy!
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