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AOL to use Microsoft's multimedia technology

Microsoft signs a licensing agreement with rival America Online to supply AOL with DirectX multimedia components.

Microsoft today said it has signed a licensing agreement with rival America Online to supply AOL with DirectX multimedia components.

The nonexclusive distribution agreement of Microsoft's DirectX multimedia API (application programming interface) components will enable AOL to give its customers the ability to run the latest games and multimedia applications on their Windows operating system-based PCs, both companies said in a statement.

Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

An API consists of functions that programmers can use to make the operating system perform various tasks, such as opening windows, files and message boxes along with more complex tasks. Built into the Windows operating system, DirectX technology is used by PC software developers to create games and multimedia software with 3-D graphics, sound effects and high-speed performance, the companies said.

The agreement between the rivals comes just days after Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft said the latest version of its MSN Messenger service will not communicate with AOL Instant Messenger (AIM). As reported, Microsoft, which had been weighing whether to continue tapping into AOL's servers to allow MSN Messenger users to communicate with AIM users, said its decision was based on an AOL software bug that could pose a security risk for MSN users.

For months, the two companies have Puppet masters: Who controls the Netbeen locked in an instant messaging battle, which began in July after Microsoft released its own instant messaging software, by which people can send and receive emails in real time.

The messaging battle escalated in the following months, with AOL being aggressive in blocking Microsoft users as well as pulling in other companies to take sides.

Through today's agreement, Microsoft said AOL members will be able to download DirectX, which was first released in 1995, from AOL's PC download center. Microsoft's latest version, DirectX 7.0, was released in September, the company said.