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Start-up helps rival IMs to get along

Endeavors Technology says it has found a way to bridge the chasm separating popular instant messaging by America Online and Microsoft.

Special report

Instant messaging, corporate software
rub shoulders in the workplace.

Start-up Endeavors Technology said it has found a way to bridge the chasm separating popular instant messaging by America Online and Microsoft.

The upstart on Tuesday unveiled software that it claims will allow AOL Instant Messenger users to communicate with MSN Messenger users. Although the two Internet giants have waged battles when one attempted to interoperate with the other, Endeavors Technology believes its workaround will let AOL and MSN users communicate without violating their proprietary networks.

The software, called Magi Secure XIM, works alongside the AOL and MSN tools and creates a communication bridge between the two services. But instead of letting an AOL user directly exchange messages with an MSN user, the software creates a peer-to-peer connection with another person who has downloaded the IM clients and Magi.

Magi, similar to popular IM management software Trillian, does not create a direct connection between AOL and MSN servers. Rather, the software allows a person to integrate both so-called buddy lists onto one interface and send messages to anyone regardless of the system used.

"You can go from desktop to desktop, and you don't have to go through an AOL server," said Kapi Attawar, vice president of marketing at Endeavors Technology.

This may be an important distinction. AOL, the largest instant messaging service, has long thwarted attempts by competitors, namely Microsoft, from tapping into its servers and communicating with its IM users. Server-to-server interoperability has become a controversial topic because rival instant messaging providers want to communicate with AOL's enormous customer base.

Other companies, such as IBM and even Microsoft's server group, have said interoperability will be crucial in IM's adoption as a business communications tool. However, AOL, MSN and Yahoo have amassed large enough user bases that opening up these networks would not be feasible without a business incentive.

Endeavor Technology considers the launch of its Magi Secure XIM product a solution to the issue of interoperability. The company plans to sell the technology to other companies, bundling the service with security and authentication, but does not have any customers who have implemented the service.

Microsoft and AOL declined to comment on the product.