BBC: Microsoft to close MSN Messenger Service in March 2013

John Bailey rekkanoryo at rekkanoryo.org
Mon Dec 3 21:22:06 EST 2012


On 12/03/2012 04:12 AM, Shlomi Fish wrote:
> Two questions:
> 
> 1. Would not it be possible to reverse-engineer the Skype protocol and
> interface with it? See for example:
> 
> http://www.techspot.com/news/44093-skype-protocol-reverse-engineered-source-posted-online.html

That entire episode screams of improper reverse engineering to me.  For us to
touch anything even remotely related to Skype, firstly one of us would have to
care about Skype support (I don't; I doubt many of my fellow developers do,
considering our severe lack of manpower to cover the protocols we already have).
 If this precondition were met, the next requirement would be documentation or
code that was derived from a completely clean-room reverse engineering effort.
That is, no decompiling or "decrypting" of binaries.  We've been through enough
legal battles; we have no intention of inviting more.

The Skype protocol is encrypted over the wire, making direct protocol analysis
difficult, at best.  True, clean-room reverse engineering is going to take a
*long* time.

> I'm not sure if Microsoft being recognised a monopoly can legally sue
> developers who try to interoperate with its software.

Microsoft can sue and/or terminate the user accounts of anyone who violates the
terms of service and the licensing agreement surrounding Skype, Windows Live
Messenger, or any other service they provide.  There are a number of provisions
in the licensing and terms of service prohibiting reverse engineering,
decompiling, etc.  Microsoft's status as a monopoly is irrelevant to the terms
of a relatively standard, binding contract entered into by the user when
accepting the terms of the EULA.  At least, it's irrelevant under US law, which
is the only law that matters to the Pidgin project--most of our developers are
US citizens and residents, and Instant Messaging Freedom, Inc., the non-profit
corporation that provides legal protection for our developers, is a US-based
company.

> 2. Doesn't it mean that support for Google Talk/XMPP Voice on Windows for
> Pidgin is now a higher priority? Or are there other FOSS clients for
> Windows that support it?

Support for *anything* on Windows is provided as our Windows maintainer finds
time to make things happen.  Whether MSN disappears or not has no bearing on
whether he finds the time to beat the VV crap into shape on Windows.  The two
are entirely unrelated.

At any rate, our official statement on the matter has been located at
http://theflamingbanker.blogspot.com/2012/11/pidgin-and-impending-shutdown-of.html
for a couple weeks now.  It's now our understanding that the new Skype junk uses
the MSN backend as much as possible and switches to the Skype stuff only when VV
is involved, which leads us to believe it should be possible to at least
maintain IM capabilities with MSN, but that's still yet to be determined.

John

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