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Aimster file-sharing targets Yahoo!, Microsoft
LOS ANGELES, California (Reuters) -- Aimster, a Napster-like file-sharing program that piggybacks on America Online's messaging service, said Monday it plans to release a new version that extends its reach to similar services offered by Microsoft Corp., Yahoo! Inc. and others.
Aimster allows users of AOL's popular Instant Messaging service to search for and swap data files in much the same way that Napster does but among a restricted group of identified friends.
The free Aimster software had attracted about 2.5 million AOL users as of mid-November, and the company is about to launch an upgrade that will broaden its potential audience to users of competing messaging services, including Microsoft and Yahoo!, according to spokesman Johnny Deep.
The new upgrade, which should be available by Tuesday, will also extend to instant-messaging services on Napster, Gnutella and others, Deep said, adding he expects Aimster to pick up half a million new users a week now. "With the new version, you will be able to share with any of these other buddy lists or send messages with any of them," Deep said.
While some industry watchers believe Aimster could be a potential target for litigation from the music industry, its developers say the program is quickly gaining momentum among investors and potential partners as an application that fills a legitimate niche in corporate computing.
A spokesman for Microsoft was not immediately available. America Online Inc., which has over 60 million users for its instant messaging service, the most popular of the group, has said it was aware of Aimster and was monitoring it.
With the upgrade, Aimster will have ties to a potential pool of hundreds of millions of instant messenger users.
Other uses possible
Aimster has previously said it has held talks with Intel Corp., who are looking to invest in peer-to-peer (P2P) computing for use in businesses. Deep said on Monday he hopes to announce deals with half a dozen strategic partners soon.
In September, EMI Group's Capitol Records, home to The Beatles, teamed up with Aimster to promote an album by the British alternative rock band Radiohead.
While the Radiohead promotion lasted only two days, it was a step towards showing that Aimster can be used for legitimate purposes.
Some analysts also believe Aimster may be better insulated from lawsuits than a fully open file-swapping service like Napster, because users have more control over files since they share only with people designated on instant messaging "buddy lists".
In contrast, Napster lets users download from any of the other more than 40 million users on the service.
The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), which represents big record companies has filed suit against Napster for copyright infringement.
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