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Duel of the instant Messengers: AOL vs. MSN

It's like watching two kids fight over the same toy: Microsoft Corporation released this week its AOL Instant Messenger-compatible MSN Messenger, which drew the ire of America Online (AOL), which accused the software giant of "hacking" into the "AOL namespace." Meanwhile, online portal Yahoo! also introduced its own Yahoo! Messenger, which also featured AOL Instant Messenger compatibility. It seemed like the obvious thing to do: Allow all of the major live chat programs to communicate with each other.

AOL disagrees. And on Friday, the company cut off MSN Messenger users from accessing AOL users. So Microsoft fought back, offering a patch that would automatically re-enable the access.

"We will continue to block anyone who attempts to use the AOL infrastructure in an unauthorized way regardless of whether those infringements involve new products or efforts like spamming, hacking, or password stealing," said an AOL spokesperson.

But it gets better: Over the past 24 hours, AOL has since reinstated some sort of blocking code, once again preventing MSN Messenger users from getting through, only to have Microsoft once again break through the virtual barrier with its own fix. There hasn't ever been a battle quite like it on the Internet

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