Disclaimer: The opinions expressed on this site do not necessarily reflect my actual opinions.

October 22, 2004

Legislation needed

And it's not very often I say that.

Imagine for a moment, if you'd be so kind, a world in which subscribers to Verizon Wireless couldn't call subscribers to T-Mobile, or anyone using Bell Atlantic. Imagine if I couldn't call someone with service from Fido because I subscribe to Rogers Wireless. Imagine if, in order to talk to all your friends, you had to subscribe to every single different phone company. That would be ridiculous, right? Of course it would. So in that case, why do I have to have MSN Messenger, AOL Instant Messenger, Yahoo! Messenger and ICQ installed on my laptop in order to be able to chat with everyone I know?

How is this situation even tolerable? Why aren't we rising up en masse and demanding they fix on a single, standardized system? It wouldn't take all that much effort, not compared to the hoops the phone companies had to jump through so that everything just worked the way we want it.

Why don't they do this? Because Microsoft wants to boast that it has this many millions of customers, and so does Yahoo!, and so does AOL. They all want to deliver their ads to their customers. Well, fine. They could still do that. Here's a radical concept: they could compete for customers! Instead of the situation right now where I pick the one or two different chat programs based on which ones most of my friends use, I could pick the piece of software I like the most. The one that doesn't crash, the one that supports video and audio and file transfers seamlessly and without fuckups because of firewalls and routers, and does these things on my Mac, not just my PC. Maybe that would be Microsoft's chat program, or maybe it would be Yahoo!'s. The winner of the Ross race would get to deliver their ads directly to my eyeballs, and I would get to chat with all my friends regardless of what piece of software they happen to use. You know, kinda like email, and phones, and pretty much everything else we use to communicate.

As it is, right now, I use Adium on my Mac, which supports all these chat systems in one program (similar to Trillian for Windows). This works, up to a point, but it doesn't do much beyond basic chatting. No file transfers (if people try to send me files it often crashes, which is a lot of fun), no video, no audio, no games, none of the things that make the proper clients cool. In fact if I want to play tic-tac-toe with someone on MSN I have to switch over to my PC, because even Microsoft's official Mac version doesn't support that stuff either. It sucks, basically.

So I say it's time to force these bastards into comformity. They do it to us often enough. Outlook Express users wouldn't tolerate only being able to send email to other Outlook Express users, so why do we put up with it when it comes to instant messaging?

Call your representatives. Demand legislation. I would, but I'm, you know, kinda busy. Chatting.


At October 22, 2004 at 10:45 a.m. , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Quite the good column, Ross. I heartily agree there should be a standard system when it comes to chat programs.

At October 22, 2004 at 9:50 p.m. , Blogger BigPru said...

Touche man! I image one day the FCC will demand it, but until then I reccomend GAIM, it's from those brilliant Linux minds, it has a windows port and it works great.

The BigPru Blog


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