AOL's instant messaging rivals have published a white paper slamming the US ISP's recent standards proposal and argues that the company has failed to submit any workable solutions.
Instant messaging services notify email users when their friends are online so they can chat with them in real-time. Rival service providers, including Microsoft and AT&T, have attempted to allow their users to instantly chat with members of AOL's Buddy List but were soon blocked by the ISP giant.
AOL says its actions protect subscribers from potential security compromises and unwanted spam emails. But in response to US government concerns about the blockings AOL last month submitted a proposal to the Internet Engineering Taskforce (IETF) to help create an open standard for instant messaging.
AOL's participation in developing an open standard is crucial because, according to the white paper, the ISP controls 90 per cent of the instant messaging market.
The service provider's proposal called for a server-to-server approach to interoperability as opposed to the traditional instant messaging method of computer to computer interoperability.
However yesterday's white paper, signed by rivals including Microsoft, [email protected], iCAST and Tribal Voice, argues that AOL's submission does not offer suitable protocols for an open network but is merely an architectural proposal.
The paper also claims that AOL users would not be at risk from instant messages outside of the AOL network and that the rivals had in the past used the ISP's own published protocols which were posted on its site a year ago but which have since been removed.
The signatories also criticise AOL for failing to give a concrete timeframe to achieve interoperability. "Not only does the company not move the standards process forward by limiting its comments to generalised architectural suggestions, there is a significant danger that the process will be [delayed] without commitment by AOL to a timetable," the paper reads.
Margaret Heffernan, chief executive of consumer website, iCast, said: "AOL's real objective is to stall interoperability. By continuing to block all attempts to create a workable standard, the only one on AOL's 'buddy list' is itself."
AOL was unavailable for comment.
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