WSJ.com - Microsoft to Link Message System With Yahoo, AOL "Microsoft Corp. is expected to announce today a deal that will allow users of its corporate instant-message software to communicate with services from rivals America Online and Yahoo Inc.
The agreement marks the beginning of a truce in a long-running battle between the three largest providers of instant messaging, a service similar to e-mail that allows computer users to send and receive text messages in real time. The deal could also advance a push by Microsoft to take on International Business Machines Corp. in the corporate market for instant messaging.
Under the agreement, the three companies will connect their instant-messaging networks by early 2005, according to a Microsoft spokeswoman. The service is designed to work with the new version of Microsoft's Live Communications Server, which is set to come out toward the end of this year. About 1,000 companies are now testing the software.
Companies that install the Microsoft software will be able to connect to about 400 million users of Yahoo's Yahoo Messenger, AOL's AOL Instant Messenger and MSN Messenger, Microsoft's consumer-messaging network. To make the connection, Microsoft's corporate customers will have to buy an extra license, and Yahoo and AOL will receive royalties on those sales.
As instant-messaging services have grown, so has the pressure to make them work together. About 92% of companies in North America use instant messaging, according Osterman Research Inc., a consultancy based in Black Diamond, Wash.
In recent months, both AOL and Yahoo, with strongholds in consumer markets for instant messaging, have backed away from selling the software that powers corporate instant messaging."