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As the MSN-AOL battle heats up, this deal, while small in scope, could be seen as a shot
at AOL.

MSN SWAPS MARKETING WITH AIMSTER

Companies Put Each Other On Buddy List, Wait For Prank IMs From Steve Case
The enemy of your enemy is your friend.

Aimster, the instant messenger file-swapping software-company, has signed a marketing deal the Microsoft Network to co-brand the swapping software and MSN’s site.

CNet reported that Aimster would be releasing an MSN-themed "skin" that would allow users to change the way the swapping service looks to make it resemble MSN Explorer. There will be MSN logos and a link to sign up for MSN’s Internet subscription service.

Perhaps the theory is that, if someone is too cheap to buy music, they might be enticed by MSN’s offer of a price point cheaper than AOL’s. Aimster works similarly to Napster, but only between people running the software on instant messenger programs. In addition to music, Aimster users can swap software, music and movies.

The timing of the deal may raise some eyebrows: Last week, all of the majors except AOLTW filed suit to shut down Aimster, AOLTW said that it would file its own, separate suit. Days before the suit was filed, Aimster lost an arbitration hearing to AOL, meaning that it would have to hand over domain names that piggybacked on AOL’s AOL Instant Messenger acronym. MSN has been trying to ingratiate itself with the music biz for several years, and this agreement probably won’t help. As the MSN-AOL battle heats up, this deal, while small in scope, could be seen as a shot at AOL.

Microsoft, by the way, could buy and sell you. It will spend $4.2 billion on research and development this year; it has $30 billion in the bank, adding $1 billion each month.

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