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Byline: Shelley Emling
Oct. 23--NEW YORK--In 1995, Microsoft Corp. launched a struggle to lure customers from archrival America Online Inc. by introducing MSN, its own Internet service provider embedded into its new Windows 95 operating system.
Since then, the two have fought over access to AOL's cable networks and Microsoft's operating system.
They've bickered over their competing formats for instant messaging.
All those battles took place as the two companies moved toward a business model that relies on recurring transaction fees for add-on Internet services and software.
And it's against the same backdrop that the two competitors are launching new versions of their online services this month.
Until now, AOL has managed to stay one step ahead, thanks to its dominance in e-mail, content, instant messaging and electronic commerce. As a result, AOL today has 31 million paying customers; Microsoft's MSN service has 7 million.
"AOL continues to do a better job of getting their product out there …