Microsoft and Several Leading Internet Companies Support Creation Of Industry Standard for Instant Messaging and Online Presence Protocols

REDMOND, Wash., July 21, 1999 — Microsoft Corp. today announced it has joined several leading Internet messaging companies to voice continued support for developing a standard protocol for instant messaging and presence awareness. Instant messaging client software lets consumers know when their friends, family and colleagues are online and enables them to exchange private messages. The protocol is intended to make it easier for consumers to locate, connect to and communicate with others on the Web, enabling independent technologies to interoperate across the Internet. Since 1997, Microsoft has been working with more than 40 leading industry vendors to develop standards for instant messaging and presence technologies.

The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) is the principal body engaged in the development of new Internet standards specifications. It formed the Instant Messaging and Presence Protocol (IMPP) Working Group to develop an interoperable architecture for simple instant messaging and presence detection. This new set of protocol standards is designed to eliminate noninteroperable protocols used by various vendors.

“As instant messaging technologies become more popular, consumers are demanding applications that make it easy to identify and communicate with friends, family and colleagues no matter where they are or what service they’re using,”
said Brad Chase, vice president for the Consumer and Commerce Group at Microsoft.
“Just as consumers expect different telephones to work with one another, so they should expect different instant messaging services to talk to each other.”

Leading Internet Companies Support Instant Messaging and Presence Standards

Key vendors representing Internet portal, online community, content and e-commerce companies have announced their support for the creation of an industry standard for instant messaging and presence protocols. Consensus on the standard will help these companies deliver significantly enhanced experiences to consumers using their products and services on the Web. These proponents include Activerse Inc., a majority-owned subsidiary of CMGi; Infoseek Corp., home of GO Network; PeopleLink Inc.; and Tribal Voice.

“The industry collaboration demonstrated on this issue should be very encouraging for instant messaging users on the Web,”
said Jim Dutton, CEO of Activerse.

“Interoperability is a big win for consumers,”
said Steve Glenn, CEO of PeopleLink.
“When it becomes a reality, consumers will be able to connect to whomever they want, no matter which instant messaging service they’re using.”

“This agreement marks one small but important step toward a comprehensive IP communications solution for all Internet users – which is to say everybody,”
said Joseph J. Esposito, president and CEO of Tribal Voice.
“Building toward that solution will move the energy in online community-building from a battle over technology to an exploration in sociology.”

Instant Messaging and Presence Protocol Solves Interoperability Problem

Currently, several vendors have instant messaging applications that can only communicate with others who have the same application. This limitation creates walled-off, isolated communities that prevent people from easily finding and communicating with everyone they want. The situation is like having a telephone that only makes calls to customers who have the same brand of telephone.

An industry standard protocol would address this issue by introducing an open model that enables services operated by different companies and Internet service providers to exchange information, in much the same way that different e-mail systems exchange messages today. Using this model, for example, computer users will be able to instantly message a friend or colleague regardless of whether they are both using the same Internet service provider.

About Activerse

Activerse was founded in October 1993 and is developing Java-based tools and technologies that will allow everyone, everywhere, to interact easily and efficiently over the Internet. Activerse’s Ding! product enables organizations to create reliable collaboration solutions that can be scaled to the individual, group or community. More information about Activerse can be found at .

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq
) is the worldwide leader in software for personal computers. The company offers a wide range of products and services for business and personal use, each designed with the mission of making it easier and more enjoyable for people to take advantage of the full power of personal computing every day.

Microsoft is a registered trademark of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries.

Other product and company names herein may be trademarks of their respective owners.

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