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Microsoft and AOL were both, obviously, giant companies, and soon the press got hold of the story. Late Friday, the software giant said it had revised its MSN Messenger program to circumvent America Online’s roadblock.
On July 24, the put it on the front page: “In Cyberspace, Rivals Skirmish Over Messaging.” It was like reading about a boxing match that you yourself were in. Within hours, America Online answered that challenge with a new block.” I framed the article. Just two decades after launching MS-DOS, its first operating system, Microsoft was one of the biggest companies in the world. They were, and are, essentially a software company.
As long as Messenger sent the same protocol messages to the AOL servers, AOL wouldn’t be able to detect that Messenger was an impostor.
So I took the AIM client and checked for differences in what it was sending, then changed our client to mimic it once again.
That way we could see the protocol that AIM was using. ” I would write into my AIM chat box and press return, and then on my network trace I would see my “Hi… ” Some of the protocol was always changing, but some was always the same.
After an hour or two of scratching our heads, we figured it out.
After we finished the user part of the program, we had some downtime while waiting for the server team to finish the Hotmail integration.
We fixed every bug we could find, and then I added another little feature just for fun.
AOL had the largest user base, so we discussed the possibility of adding code to allow Messenger to log in to two servers simultaneously, Microsoft’s and AOL’s, so that you could see your Messenger and AIM buddies on a single list and talk to AIM buddies via Messenger.
We called it “interop.” This wasn’t elegant, but it wasn’t that complicated, either.
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By licensing Microsoft to provide the operating system for PCs, IBM essentially handed them a license to print money.