Yesterday Microsoft announced on their Inside Windows Live blog, that they have opened up public access to its Messenger IM network via the Extensible Messaging and Presence Protocol (XMPP). More than 300 million people actively use Live Messenger every month according to Microsoft, and the vast majority of them also actively use other services like Facebook, Yahoo and Twitter. As users contact lists and collection of chat clients and services start to grow, it becomes increasingly difficult to manage.
Microsoft have in Windows Phone 7 shown their recent ambition to collect all different people you know under one place. This approach lets you collect social media, phone contacts and also chat services under one place for easy access. The Messaging service itself has also been expanded to let you connect via a Windows PC, Windows Phone, and Hotmail trying to make it easier for the user to sign in to existing services, and chat with who they want, without having to re-spam all their friends and force them to join yet another network, or download yet another chat client.
Microsoft now wants to give public access to the Messenger network via XMPP, an open standard. This means that anyone can build innovative messaging clients, either as a stand-alone or built into devices. This would automatically give access to potentially 300 million active users in the Messenger’s network.
Currently there exist third-party applications like Adium, eBuddy, or Pidgin that connect to Live Messenger service, but this have usually been achieved by reverse-engineering the the Live Messenger behavior. Gaining access to the chat network in this way rarely give support for all of the service’s features. There’s no indication that this will change in the short term, at this early stage after the announcement. Only time will tell how open the access will become with the help of XMPP.
With this move Microsoft at least now officially show support for unofficial clients for the first time. With the release of the XMPP interface for Messenger, any XMPP based chat client, that can also support OAuth 2.0 for authentication, will be able to connect to Windows Live Messenger to enable the users to see which of their friends are online and chat with them in real-time.
Microsoft says they want to give users the freedom to choose devices and services. “With this announcement, we now have universally available protocols for accessing all our major services. There’s OAuth 2.0 for Live ID, a REST API for SkyDrive, Exchange Active Sync for Hotmail, and XMPP for Messenger”, say Dare Obasanjo, Lead Program Manager for the Live Connect Platform
There is currently support for the following XMPP specifications:
- RFC6120: XMPP: Core
- RFC6121: XMPP: Instant Messaging and Presence. Roster management is not supported.
- XEP-0054: vcard-temp. The Messenger XMPP service supports fetching vCards, but doesn’t support updating vCards.
- XEP-0085: Chat State Notifications
- XEP-0203: Delayed Delivery