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AOL recruits ISPs in messaging battle

AOL enlists help in the messaging war with Microsoft by inking deals with fellow Internet service providers EarthLink and MindSpring.

AOL enlisted help in the messaging war with Microsoft today by inking deals with fellow Internet service providers EarthLink and MindSpring.

Under the agreements, both EarthLink and MindSpring said they'll distribute a cobranded version of AOL Instant Messenger (AIM), making it available to its members.

Through the relationship, EarthLink's 1.3 million members and MindSpring's 1.2 million members will be able to trade personalized and private online messages in real time. In turn, both ISPs will join the AIM community, which includes 17 million AOL subscribers and 28 million registered AIM users, the companies said in a statement.

Today's announcement comes in the midst of a heated war between AOL and Microsoft, which began to escalate last month after the software giant released its own instant messaging software, MSN Messenger.

Microsoft's MSN Messenger service has an added feature that allows its users to communicate with AOL Instant Messenger users, but AOL has since then blocked Microsoft users from communicating with its "Buddy List," charging that it poses a security risk to AOL users.