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Netscape Communications Corp and America Online Inc have teamed to enable internet users to interact via real-time messaging with AOL and internet users, as well as take advantage of AOL’s popular Buddy List feature, whereby users can tell if anybody they know is currently logged on. Netscape’s AOL Instant Messenger, as the client software will be known, will be launched by Netscape as part of the next version of Communicator before the end of this year, and probably within the next 30 days. The Instant Messenger, which is based on software from AOL, will be featured on Netscape’s Netcenter part of its recently redesigned web site and the two companies will also do joint promotion of the Netscape version. It will enable registered users to see who is using the service and link into AOL’s own Buddy Lists. The plan is to offer it for free at the moment, Netscape said cautiously. Netscape describes the deal as substantial and worth millions of dollars, unsurprisingly. It predicts between five and ten million users of the service within a year of launch. Revenues from the non-exclusive will be derived from a split of advertising sales from banners, though the exact split was not disclosed. Netscape expects to collaborate on further deals with AOL in the future.

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