Why I’m Still Not Ditching My AIM/AOL Messenger Account

Instant Messenger

Back in 2nd quarter of 2011 Google and AOL rolled-out their Google Talk and AIM interoperability feature. Meaning, users can add and communicate to users of the other network, similar to what then “MSN Messenger” (now “WLM“) and Yahoo! Messenger did years back.

It was great news in the Instant Messenger (“IM”) world. Interoperability between separate networks is a must have today, especially when it comes to doing business globally. Imagine one IM account that can communicate with other IM networks, bliss right?


Unfortunately, for Google Talk and AIM interoperability project, it isn’t. In a few months time, it will be a year already since they opened their doors to each other but the feature is still plague with bugs.

Bugs reported were: [1] contacts disappearing; [2] online/offline status not getting detected/shown correctly; [3] adding/invite/request-to-add not getting received by the other party; and even [4] failed communication or receiving of messages on both ends.

I tried it earlier today and I can only say that these bugs are still there. It is random, so if you’re lucky you will have a smooth sail. Personally, I doubt that the problem is on Google’s side, no, I think it is on AOL’s side.

Google Talk uses XMPP (f. Jabber), which have a built-in system for federating to other XMPP/Jabber networks. Closed-networks like AIM, WLM, and FBchat have been experimenting with it (though FBchat and WLM end-result and purpose is different). And AOL have been experimenting with it far longer than WLM and FBchat. This is the result of their efforts to translate AIM’s language to XMPP language. The bridge is on AOL’s side not Google’s.

Which could explain why Google Apps users (like me) can not use the interoperability feature. AIM probably whitelisted the @gmail.com domain only. Which also explains why despite the bug reports to Google, things are not getting better. All Google could probably do is forward the reports to AOL’s engineers.

That is why I am still not deleting my AIM account. The interoperabiliy is:

  1. limited to @gmail.com domain only; and
  2. still buggy

I hope one day I can say: “1 less IM account to maintain yet a million users gained”. Oh, AOL should include ICQ (“I-Seek-You”) as well, I have many contacts there too and it isn’t dead as most people assume.

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