Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Ready for personal presence solutions?

Mike Gotta had a dream: a presence aggregator service on every Windows workstation. If Microsoft could execute on this excellent idea, this would bring them back to the forefront of the individual applications scene.

As in most disruptive changes, the issue will certainly not come from the technology side. What Mike calls a "headless presence client aggregator" is nothing more than a publish/subscribe broker where address handles are used as topics... I think that technically, it can be implemented in no time. If this service is aggregating presence information at a client level, the required processing power and memory footprint can be kept very low. A documented API would allow both applications and "watcher" clients to subscribe or publish information to the common presence aggregator, ending up in a fully layered architecture that could benefit any application running on the workstation. The secret here would be to keep it simple.

The unknown lies in the incontrollable urge Microsoft always exhibit to "control the world" when adding feature to its flagship products. For this aggregator to succeed, it would have to be open…

  • If this presence aggregator imposes a particular communication protocol, such as the RTC flavor of SIP/SIMPLE, then the adoption would be severely impaired. On the contrary, if the aggregator is open to other communication protocols, and provide by default both an RTC and an XMPP transport, Microsoft would be sending a very strong signal to the industry.
  • If the rivalries between different Microsoft line of products were ironed out and they agreed to use this service rather than creating their own version of a presence aggregator, they would certainly be sending a strong trust signal to their user base. And as the API would be publicly documented they would not be accused of creating an unfair advantage for themselves.

In the end, there are many "if" for a somewhat obvious and rational solution. This period of the year is always full of dreams and whishes. In this case, I am certain the model would work, but would Micosoft be rational and open?

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