Microsoft this weekannounced that it has opened up the Messenger network, which powers Windows Live Messenger, to the XMPP open standard. This change gives developers of virtually any platform--mobile, web, PC--the ability to create their own Windows Live Messenger-compatible instant messaging solutions.

"Anyone can [now] build innovative messaging clients—either stand-alone or built into their devices—that include access to Messenger's 300 million active users," Dare Obasanjo wrote in a blog post announcing the change. "XMPP is the Extensible Messaging and Presence Protocol which is an open technology for real-time communication used by a number of popular IM networks from Google Talk to Facebook Chat and now Messenger."

Previous to this, Microsoft worked to evolve Windows Live Messenger so that it can communicate with other popular services. The most recent release integrates in some ways with Facebook and Twitter, for example. 

My Windows Secrets co-author Rafael Rivera notes, however, that the XMPP capabilities are hardly full-featured. In his own post about this event, Hell freezes, Messenger network accessible via XMPP, Rivera reveals that there are still many missing features, including such basic functionality as adding and removing friends from the Messenger contacts list. So this thing still has a ways to go.

Indeed, Microsoft implicitly stated this in its blog post, which actually notes some limitations without desscribing them as such. "Any XMPP based chat client can connect to Windows Live Messenger to enable people to see which of their friends are online and chat with them in real-time." A further note describing the supported capabilities adds chat state notifications and delayed message delivery, but that's it.

For now. Hopefully, we'll see further improvements here. And hopefully someone will make a stripped down Messenger client for Windows so I can finally stop using Microsoft's unnecessarily bloated Windows Live Messenger, which jumped the sharp years ago.