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Lycos, AOL prep joint Instant Messenger

Internet portal company Lycos readies a co-branded version of the AOL Instant Messenger service.

Portal firm Lycos today launched a co-branded version of the AOL Instant Messenger service.

The co-branded AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) service allows Lycos' 30 million users to communicate with each other as well as the entire AOL Buddy List Network of 72 million America Online and AIM users, the company said. In addition, users can link from the cobranded AOL Instant Messenger service to My Lycos personalized content and the Lycos search engine.

The anticipated move is the result of a battle between software giant Microsoft and AOL for instant messaging domination, Puppet masters: Who controls the  Netin which both sides have been actively crusading for partners to support their individual instant messengers.

The recruitment of Waltham, Mass.-based Lycos could intensify the battle over instant messaging on at least two fronts. For AOL, Lycos is an important ally in its battle against Microsoft and, to a lesser degree, Yahoo, about which version of the important communications software is used. For Lycos, the move allows the portal to catch up with Yahoo by adding a critical feature in a market where rivals must match each other's services to stay competitive.

Microsoft recently backed off in the IM wars. Last month, the Redmond, Wash.-based company said the latest version of its instant message software would not communicate with AIM. It cited potential security risks for MSN users as the reason for the move.