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Google opens up instant messaging

Google Talk users can now talk to people using other instant messaging systems that support the XMPP open communications protocol. Those systems include, Earthlink, Sipphone's Gizmo Project, Chikka in the Philippines, MediaRing in Singapore, Tiscali in Italy and China's Netease, Google said in a statement.

Unfortunately, the list does not include Yahoo Instant Messenger or MSN Messenger, which are among the most popular chat programs. Yahoo and MSN announced in October that they would enable their systems to interoperate beginning in the second quarter of this year.

Meanwhile, as part of Google's $1 billion investment in AOL for a 5 percent stake of the Time Warner Internet unit, Google and AOL said they will eventually make AOL Instant Messenger and Google Talk interoperable. A Google spokeswoman said on Wednesday that there was no information on when that might happen.

In announcing the Google Talk "federation," Google Talk Product Manager Mike Jazayeri likened the situation to the e-mail and telephone systems, which have numerous service providers who allow their users to contact each other. "Unfortunately, this is not the case with many IM and Internet voice calling services today," he wrote in his Google Talk blog. "You can only talk to people on the particular service you have an account on (so you need an account on every service to talk to everybody, which is pretty cumbersome). With open federation, you get to choose your service provider and you can talk to people on any other federated service (and vice versa)."