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The Instant Message War

Boot Camp feature for Thursday, July 29, 1999

Don't shoot the messenger. The war over online instant messaging rages on. I'm Fred Fishkin with Bootcamp, a report on computers and technology. This fight between Microsoft and America Online is getting downright nasty...

"What Microsoft has done, is essentially hacked into our system.

AOL's Ann Brackbill. AOL pioneered Buddy Lists and Instant Messaging online and has not taken kindly to Microsoft allowing users of its new MSN Instant Messenger to have access to AOL's users. The company calls it a matter of safety and security and has been blocking the MSN software.

"One of the important things that we're really working towards is a standard in the industry so that people can use any messaging client that they want."

MSN's Rob Bennett. So what has been going on is a see-saw battle with AOL blocking and MSN unblocking access day after day. Both MSN and AOL instant messenger services are free. But there is a whole lot of future advertising money at stake. At ComputerWorld magazine, editor in chief Maryfran Johnson takes AOL to task for its blockade...

"It is such ignorant and anti-Internet type behavior."

But the battle continues...

"We will continue to block their unauthorized access to our system." "We're going to work as hard as we can to keep providing that functionality."

And in the middle, we users, are just ducking for cover.