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AOL has gone into competition with Gmail, Yahoo! and Hotmail with the launch of a free web-based email service offering up to 2GB of storage.

AIM Mail offers spam and virus protections plus integration with the AOL's AIM Instant Messenger Service. Users can use their AIM screen name as their email address. It was launched yesterday following trials this spring.

Users can tap into the service, which offers one-click access to AIM Mail, through an updated version of the AIM 5.9 software. An update will begin rolling out across the AIM network this week, during which US AIM users will be given the opportunity to activate an AIM Mail account and enrol in the sweepstakes promotion.

The AIM Mail interface is based on technology AOL bought when it acquired Mailblocks in July 2004. Both current AIM users and web users more generally can access AIM Mail by visiting AIM.com or by updating to AIM 5.9 software.

Separately, AOL announced it will give its US ISP customers unlimited email storage. ®

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AOL buys Mailblocks to fight spam

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