The Internet messaging battle became a dirty tricks campaign today as AOL started marketing to Microsoft customers using Microsoft’s own messaging software.
Last month, Microsoft entered the Internet messaging market with its MSN Messenger product, stepping firmly on AOL’s territory. AOL has been a leader in this market with its own Instant Messenger product for more than two years.
But since the Microsoft product launched, promising to let users chat with their existing AOL ‘buddies’ using the MSN software, AOL has been on the offensive. It was criticised for blocking messages between the two systems (see Newswire 27 July), but AOL was unrepentant.
Today, users of Microsoft’s MSN Messenger received an abrupt message from AOL telling them they had been thrown off the AOL network for using “unauthorised software.”
The message advised users to download AOL’s own software and provided a hotlink to a download location.
“You have been disconnected from the AOL Instant Message Service (SM) for accessing the AOL network using unauthorized software. You can download a FREE, fully featured, and authorized client, here…,” the message, from AOLInstantMessenger2, said.
Users were unable to respond to the message.
Almost every day for the last two weeks Microsoft users have been required to download a new version of MSN Messenger in order to connect with AOL users. The tit for tat battle has not done AOL’s image any favours.
Last week Microsoft, AT&T, [email protected], Yahoo, Infoseek and others wrote to AOL president Steve Case asking him to support them in creating an open standard for instant messaging.
The companies described AOL’s actions as “an unproductive game of cat and mouse” and urged Case to open the AOL messaging network to non AOL users then enter talks about creating an open standard. Case was given until today to respond.
AOL didn’t respond to repeated requests for comment by press time.
Meanwhile, AOL today announced partnerships with two US ISPs, Mindspring and Earthlink, to distribute co-branded versions of Instant Messenger. The deals should help in its defence of market share.
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