Comparison of instant messaging protocols

Basic general information about the protocols: creator, version, amongst others.

Protocol Creator First public release date License Identity (not inc. alias) Asynchronous message relaying Transport Layer Security Unlimited number of contacts Bulletins to all contacts One-to-many routing 4 spam protection Supports groups or channels for members / nonmembers / nobody Audio/VoIP Webcam/Video
Gadu-Gadu GG Network 2000 Jul 17 Proprietary Unique number
e.g. 12345678
Yes Yes Yes No Centralistic Yes 5 (simple) Yes Yes Yes
Gale Dan Egnor ? Open standard Unique RSA key, aliased to user@domain ? Yes (public/private key) ? ? ? ? Yes (multiple simultaneous, any size, programmable, encrypted) No No
IRC Jarkko Oikarinen 1988 Aug Open standard Nickname!Username@hostname
(or "hostmask")
e.g. user!~usr@a.b.com1
Yes, but via a memo system that

differs from the main system

Yes, depending on individual server support No3 No Simplistic multicast Medium Yes (everyone, multiple simultaneous, any size) No No
Microsoft Messenger service Messenger|SMD|NetBEUI - Net Send Microsoft 1990 Proprietary NetBIOS Yes No Yes Yes Yes No No No No
MSNP (Windows Live Messenger, etc.) Microsoft 1999 Jul Proprietary E-mail address (Windows Live ID) Yes No Only for certified robots No Centralistic Yes Yes Yes Yes
unknown protocol (Mumble) Thorvald Natvig 1999 Jul Open standard Yes Yes Only for certified robots No Centralistic Yes Yes Yes Yes
OSCAR protocol (AIM, ICQ) AOL 1997 Proprietary Username, Email Address or UIN
e.g. 12345678
Yes Yes (Aim Pro, Aim Lite) No No Centralistic client-based Yes (Multiple, simultaneous) Yes Yes
PSYC (Protocol for SYnchronous Conferencing) PSYC Project 1995[1] Open standard[2] PSYC URI as in psyc://example.net/~nickname[3] Yes[4] Yes[5] Yes[4] Yes[6] Custom multicast[7] Yes[8] Yes (multiple simultaneous, any size, programmable)[9] Yes[10] Yes[10]
RVP (Windows Messenger, etc.) Microsoft 1997 Mar Proprietary Windows Active Directory Login No No ? No Centralistic None No ? ?
SIP/SIMPLE IETF 2002 Dec Open standard user@hostname Yes Yes Yes Yes No Medium ? Yes Yes
Skype protocol Skype ? Proprietary Username No Proprietary ? No ? ? Yes Yes Yes
TOC protocol (deprecated) AOL 1998 Proprietary Username or UIN
e.g. 12345678
Yes No ? ? Centralistic ? paying members only ? ?
TOC2 protocol AOL 2005 Sep Proprietary Username or UIN
e.g. 12345678
Yes No No No Centralistic No paying members only ? ?
XMPP (Jabber; Google Talk) Jeremie Miller, standardized via IETF 1999 Jan Open standard Jabber ID (JID)
e.g. usr@a.b.c/home2
Yes Yes Yes Yes Unicast lists Several Standardized Types Optional Yes Yes
YMSG (Yahoo! Messenger) Yahoo! ? Proprietary Username Yes No No Yes Centralistic Yes No (groups discontinued due to liability) PMs, Conferences, and Chat Rooms Yes
Zephyr Notification Service MIT 1987 Open standard Kerberos principal
e.g. user@ATHENA.MIT.EDU
Yes No Yes Yes Unicast lists No Yes No No
Protocol Creator First public release date License Identity (not inc. alias) Asynchronous message relaying Transport Layer Security Unlimited number of contacts Bulletins to all contacts One-to-many routing4 spam protection Supports groups or channels for members / nonmembers / nobody Audio/VoIP Webcam/Video

Note 1: In ~usr@a.b.com, the a.b.com part is known as the "hostmask" and can either be the server being connected from or a "cloak" granted by the server administrator; a more realistic example is ~myname@myisp.example.com. The tilde generally indicates that the username provided by the IRC client on signon was not verified with the ident service.

Note 2: In usr@a.b.c/home, the home part is a "resource", which distinguishes the same user when logged in from multiple locations, possibly simultaneously; a more realistic example is user@xmppserver.example.com/home

Note 3: Scalability issue: The protocol gets increasingly inefficient with the number of contacts.[11][12]

Note 4: One-to-many/many-to-many communications primarily comprise presence information, publish/subscribe and groupchat distribution. Some technologies have the ability to distribute data by multicast, avoiding bottlenecks on the sending side caused by the number of recipients. Efficient distribution of presence is currently however a technological scalability issue for both XMPP and SIP/SIMPLE.

Note 5: There have been reports from users that the antispam filter is used to censor links to other IM programs and some websites.

See also

References


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