AOL has rubbished a report that it is killing off its popular instant messaging service.

"We are not killing instant messenger," an AOL spokeswoman said yesterday. "We'll continue to support it and evolve the product."

There was some confusion earlier when SlashGear reported that AOL's instant messenger, AIM, is about to be "shut down for good." The report also contended that there would be no further upgrades to the software.

A source close to AOL said that Jason Shellen, who heads up AIM product group, is leaving the company. AOL also laid off about 40 employees from the AIM group, according to the source.

However, the AOL spokeswoman said that does not mean that AOL is getting rid of AIM.

Earlier yesterday, Google and AOL restored interoperability between their two instant messaging networks. The move came about two weeks after the connection was temporarily suspended due to a spam flood originating in AOL's service that affected Gmail Chat and Google Talk users.