Microsoft has given up the controversial fight to link its instant messaging system with America Online's (AOL's) more popular offering.
AOL started preventing Microsoft's MSN Messenger service from linking with AOL's Instant Messaging equivalent in July, claiming that the attempt to do so was tantamount to hacking.
The two companies have been squabbling about the issue ever since and although Microsoft developers have found ways around AOL's defences, the latter has always managed to shut down access.
But in the latest beta release of MSN Messenger, Microsoft has dropped the ability to connect its users to AOL's.
Microsoft issued a statement, saying: "We have now reached a point where an interim solution is no longer possible."
The matter is far from over though and both companies have said they will work with the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) to develop an instant messaging standard.
But Microsoft executives said they doubted the seriousness of AOL's intentions regarding the standard. Yusuf Mehdi, a director of marketing at Microsoft, claimed: "We have not yet seen any indication that AOL is interested in truly supporting this effort, although it has been paying lip service to the idea."
The IETF has already drawn up preliminary specifications for a messaging interoperability standard, which is on track to be published by the middle of next year.
Although AOL officials could not be reached for comment, it is estimated that 45 million customers use its Instant Messaging product and that the number is growing.
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