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Microsoft shows nasty side on IM battleground

CNN (opens in new tab) are both reporting that Microsoft's bad habits are quickly catching up. While the rest of the world is embracing the concept of openness and data portability, Microsoft has chosen to go against the flow.

The software giant is apparently going after start ups in a bid to get them to cough up fees for each MSN user they import into their web services.

As Fortune puts it, I"f the company wants to offer other IM services (from Yahoo, Google or AOL, say), Messenger must get top billing. And if the start up wants to offer any other IM service, it must pay Microsoft 25 cents a user per year for a site license."

Start ups have been sent cease-or-desist letters "encouraging" them to go Microsoft-only and get a 100 percent discount.

Microsoft has released a few initiatives including one which allows contacts to import up to one million contacts.

Windows Live contacts (opens in new tab) allows people to use their Windows Live contact information (including Hotmail, Messenger, and Mobile contacts) with your site—while keeping complete control of their data.

Beyond Microsoft's heavy handed approach - which they insist, is best for their customers - is the crucial question of who owns the data you import.

The recent storm involving Robert Scoble and Facebook over whether the former could download his friends and acquaintances details shows that we're only at the beginning of a teething data and privacy issue.

Désiré Athow

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Following an eight-year stint at where he discovered the joys of global tech-fests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. Previously he was a freelance technology journalist at Incisive Media, Breakthrough Publishing and Vnunet, and Business Magazine. He also launched and hosted the first Tech Radio Show on Radio Plus.