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Industry Leaders Invite AOL to End Instant Message Fight

Internet heavyweights have asked America Online Inc. to tear down the walls and end their blockade of competing instant messaging services.

In a letter to Steve Case, AOL president and chief executive officer, eight industry leaders asked the online giant to make its instant messaging servers open to other vendors.

Senior executives at Excite@Home Inc., Microsoft Corp., Activerse Inc., Tribal Voice, Inc. , Prodigy Communications Corp., Yahoo! Inc., AT&T and Infoseek asked AOL to put an end to a week-long game of cat and mouse over instant messaging interoperability.

The correspondence praised AOL's vision for its early leadership in the instant messaging marketplace when the company purchased ICQ.

Citing mutual interest on behalf of all instant messaging consumers, the executives said now is the time for AOL to act and open their AIM servers to the industry.

The companies are advocating for quick passage of the Internet Engineering Task Force's instant messaging and presence protocol.

The IETF is an international community of network designers, operators, vendors, and researchers whose goal is to build an open and interoperable Internet architecture built upon universal protocols.

Having asked AOL to join their efforts on establishing an instant messaging standard, the executives further asked that AOL immediately suspend blocking non-AOL clients from AIM servers.

AOL's response to the request is expected within a week. Until AOL joins the rest of the industry, AOL's AIM system is interoperable only with IBM Corp. Lotus Notes and products from Netscape, RealNetworks and Apple Computer Inc.



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