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Messaging Becoming The Sizzle On The Steak

Did ya happen to notice that messaging is really cool?

I'm not basing this observation on the fact that our nation's youth are walking around clicking on their cell phones like there is no tomorrow. They obviously think its cool, and so do the service providers, but the software development community must think messaging is pretty cool, too. All the recent really big, really cool software product announcements have included some form of integrated messaging.

Yes, finding unique and useful ways to integrate, e-mail, instant messaging and voice messaging into applications is becoming a key differentiator and looks to represent a major battleground for upcoming heavyweight clashes.

Just since the start of the year we've seen Microsoft, IBM, Google, Yahoo, AOL and Research In Motion all starting to move their chess pieces with greater urgency and form various alliances, all in an effort to strengthen their positions in the messaging space and bridge the enterprise and wireless worlds.

One might think Microsoft would get a little sidetracked dealing with all the security issues that its messaging technologies have wrought lately (did you catch Fox Sports personality Terry Bradshaw asking Microsoft's billionaire co-founder Paul Allen if he could help him with a little e-mail problem?), but the Redmondites seem to be keeping their eye on the ball. We saw reports that Microsoft's Office Live service will likely include a Web-based e-mail client dubbed "Office Live Mail."And it's not just Microsoft layering in new messaging capabilities every time it updates an application or service. Google announced that it has opened its instant messaging and Internet telephony services to any company willing to support the XMPP protocol standard. While XMPP is supported by thousands of ISPs, neither of its chief rivals, Microsoft and Yahoo, support the standard.

But then standards support has become a very strategic issue in the messaging space. IBM told the Lotusphere faithful this week that its new IBM Sametime 7.5 instant messaging environment
would connect to America Online's, Yahoo's and Google's popular consumer IM networks. Did you notice which major instant messaging environment was left off that list?

Yep! No love lost between IBM and Microsoft. In fact Microsoft stole an early ride on the Lotusphere bus by announcing the week before the event new tools for migrating from IBM Lotus Notes/Domino collaboration applications to Microsoft Exchange. The two have been going after each other's corporate accounts for awhile now, so Microsoft's was a well-timed ploy.

Yes it seems that messaging will be an integral part of the applications and services we use on a daily basis. It makes sense that new methods of creating and managing data go hand in hand with better means of sharing the data. Let's just make sure that we can share it securely.