Back in 1996 ICQ saw it first light and instant messaging was born and it took Microsoft until 1999 before MSN Messenger was launched. Two proprietary protocols for instant messaging with closed specifications. Also a third protocol was started in 1998 under the name Jabber which was renamed as XMPP a few years later. Long time it was labeled as “only for geeks” or “something for Linux-users”.
This all changed in 2005 as Google launched Google Talk which was based on XMPP and also allowed server-to-server communication 2006 so Google Talk users could communicate with users outside the Google netwerk. Other services like audio and video where added in the years after. This forced others to rethink there ideas about there instant messaging network where Facebook Chat followed the same strategy as Google Talk. Shortly after AOL started experimenting with ICQ over XMPP in 2008.
The last big bastion was Live Messenger from Microsoft, but recently it was announced that also Microsoft started to offer an XMPP API to there instant messaging network. Meaning people with an XMPP client could use the Microsoft instant messaging network without any additional software. Telepathy developers from Freedesktop.org directly jumped in and trying to get it in with GNOME 3.4 together with better Facebook support like it is now for Google in GNOME Online Accounts. With this the only question remains if Microsoft for example will also allow server-to-server communication like Google.
Now that we slowly moving towards an unified communications standard where companies as Cisco are pushing for, we also see a simplification and reduction of standards in use. Hopefully Debian can drop in the release after Wheezy all packages that depend on the old Messenger protocol. Also hopefully Microsoft will also jump into the bandwagon for standardized calendar en contacts support, but time will tell. For now it is a plus 1 for open and free standards.