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Terra Lycos, IBM team on messaging

The Internet giant plans to introduce a new instant messaging service built on IBM Lotus Sametime technology by the end of the year.

Terra Lycos said Thursday that it will introduce a new instant messaging service built on IBM Lotus Sametime technology by the end of the year.

The Internet company will initially offer the software for free. But next year it will introduce versions of the software that will carry a fee for additional services. The companies did not disclose what kinds of paid services would be offered.

The companies added that the service will open doors to other instant messaging products that want to communicate with it. Since the software will be built on Sametime technology, it will use the SIMPLE (SIP for Instant Messaging and Presence Leveraging Extensions) instant messaging protocol, which the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) standards body has advocated. Other instant messengers based on SIMPLE will be able to communicate with it.

Terra Lycos "intends to have interoperability with other Sametime communities," said Bethann Cregg, manager of the advanced collaboration group at IBM's Lotus division. "As other consumer services adopt SIMPLE as their standard, the interoperability would be negotiated between Terra Lycos and the other SIMPLE community (members)."

A Terra Lycos representative could not be reached for comment.

Microsoft has also endorsed SIMPLE, but an IBM representative would not say whether the companies plan to open up to the software giant's instant messaging products. Microsoft's Windows Messenger, which is bundled into the Windows XP operating system, uses SIMPLE.

America Online, which owns the two largest instant messaging clients--AOL Instant Messenger and ICQ--conducted trials with Sametime in August 2001, but concluded the tests a month later without any assurances that the services would link. AOL has stepped back from its advocacy of server-to-server interoperability in favor of hosting instant messaging services for other companies such as Apple Computer.

Earlier this week, AOL lifted the barrier between AIM and ICQ, a surprise move that the company has long resisted. The new beta version of AIM 5.1 will let users add ICQ identities to their buddy lists.