Owners of and AOL Instant Messenger can now use the service from Gmail. You may be surprised to learn that I consider that this is bad news. All the hype about interoperability between the two networks is just that : hype. This is not interoperability, this is just using Google as a multi-protocol client. In short, it merely hides the problem under the rug and further legitimates the fragmentation of the instant messaging world. I expected something more ambitious from Google. I thought that by opening their network to the Jabber galaxy, Google had made a statement in support of interoperability and open networks. But apparently this was just a way to embrace their competitors. I hope that users will some day understand the value of openness and demand it from their suppliers. They once did it for email and for internetworking – let’s hope the miracle happens again for instant messaging. Meanwhile, make sure that friends don’t let friends use closed networks !