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AOL Updates: Standalone Browser, Search, VoIP 125

Eric writes "In the face of increasing pressure from the likes of Google and MSN, America Online has opened beta testing for its standalone AOL Browser and Desktop Search to anyone with an AOL or AIM screen name. The AOL Browser beta utilizes Microsoft's Internet Explorer engine (not Firefox's, like Netscape) and integrates the company's Desktop Search client. Unlike Netscape it looks decent from the screenshots and also includes some nifty features like tear-off tabs and zooming." And prostoalex writes "In what could be the biggest VOIP push into US households, AOL will start offering VOIP services, as reported by Light Reading. 28% of online Americans subscribe to dial-up or broadband version of AOL, AOL has 4 million broadband users, and beta testers in the Light Reading article seemed to be pretty happy with the service."
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AOL Updates: Standalone Browser, Search, VoIP

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  • Ob:AOL (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 07, 2005 @06:40PM (#11601571)
    Me too!
  • Blecchhh! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Stanistani ( 808333 ) on Monday February 07, 2005 @06:41PM (#11601573) Homepage Journal
    The unholy combination of IE and AOL made pretty? always puzzled me why they bought Netscape and never made it their browser...
    • Tinfoil hat time: Netscape was being customized and handed out by competing ISPs... Kill or cripple Netscape, and they can't do that any more. (whoops... mozilla's still alive and kicking).
    • Re:Blecchhh! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by KiltedKnight ( 171132 ) on Monday February 07, 2005 @06:48PM (#11601672) Homepage Journal
      It's a simple answer: Primary desktop placement of the "Get AOL Now" icon. That was the whole reason Microsoft pre-placed that stuff within their installations. AOL and Microsoft had the agreement that AOL uses IE as the basis for its browser, and MS would put the AOL icon right on the desktop.

      Of course, why AOL hasn't converted now is beyond me. MS has long since terminated that icon placement in favor of its own MSN one.

      • Of course, why AOL hasn't converted now is beyond me.

        Because now the new deal is:

        - lets Mozilla go;
        - is free to make deals with OEMs for the desktop icon/preinstalled software;
        - will use IE as their browser for the next 5 (?) years;

        and Microsoft
        - will not bother OEMs or force them to remove AOL offers as a condition for getting a better price for Windows.

        AOL is just letting Microsoft making AOL more and more irrelevant each passing day. They know it - they'd rather have it that way than be proactive,

    • Re:Blecchhh! (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Eberlin ( 570874 ) on Monday February 07, 2005 @06:50PM (#11601685) Homepage
      It was primarily used as a pawn to negotiate with MS. You know, that whole monopoly thing, a neat little settlement, and probably a nice bargaining chip to keep those "Subscribe to AOL" icons on default windows desktop installations.

      When all that was done, they chopped off the Mozilla people and spun them off with their own mozilla foundation with a mil or two (?) to get started.

      Then they bastardized the Netscape brand to sell cheaper Internet access under the guise of a different name, hoping to capitalize on name recognition.

      It would've been great, though -- a giant chunk of "Netizens" (granted, most AOLers deserve their label) switching to Firefox all at once because AOL defaults to it would have been nice.

      Oh well.
  • the AOL service.... (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 07, 2005 @06:41PM (#11601581)
    is just the same as the time-warner VoIP product that's been on the market for several months, under a different brand. Nothing new, really.

    And Vonage works with Time-Warner as well. So there aren't as many VoIP vendors as you assume there are.
  • Beta testing for AOL (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Kipsaysso ( 828105 )
    An unstable release of what will be an unstable browser.
    • Not to mention, AOL will no doubt use these new "features" as an excuse for yet another price increase. They'll sit in board meetings wondering why they keep losing subscribers and why people aren't willing to pay more for AOL dialup than DSL would cost. Seriously, does anyone still believe that they can do things on AOL that they can't do on the real internet?
  • by JWW ( 79176 ) on Monday February 07, 2005 @06:43PM (#11601605)
    Every time I see how AOL's browser is based on Internet Explorer, I can't help but imagine the meeting in a few years where AOL will have to license the technonogy again.

    The meeting ends with a line from Microsoft sounding somthing like "One Trilllion Dollars," then maniaical super villan laugh.
    • by Greenisus ( 262784 ) <[michael] [at] []> on Monday February 07, 2005 @06:58PM (#11601750) Homepage
      I don't think that's the case. It sounds to me like AOL can just dangle Netscape in front of Microsoft's eyes to get them to play nice.
      • The last time Netscape was dangled in front of Microsoft, they poured buckets of money into IE and subsequently crushed Netscape. I'd guess Bill would try the same again rather than bothering to play nice. Also, comparing the two companies' chequebooks, microsoft has a lot more buckets of money to throw at things.
        • The last time Netscape was dangled in front of Microsoft, they poured buckets of money into IE and subsequently crushed Netscape.

          Yes, but the last time Netscape was at version 4.7x. Netscape was old, buggy, slow, didn't render modern HTML correctly and was missing major features. It had been a couple years since the last major update.

          Now, the Mozilla and Firefox projects are running full steam ahead, and they are serious potential competitors to IE. AOL could spend some money and create a new browser bas
        • Frankly I'd like that to happen. I used to use IE instead of Netscape because it was better at the time. There's no reason Microsoft can't make IE the best browser again--heaven knows they have the money and hackers.
          • ...heaven knows they have the money and hackers.

            And backward-compatibility to keep. Main problem with IE isn't really feature---tab-browsing? well, I admit it is my favorite feature in Mozilla/Firefox, but it's not such a difficult feature to code (IANACoder, but why would it be?), and I don't think Mozilla Foundation forgot to patent that feature ;)---the real problem is with security: ActiveX.

            Frankly, I don't know the details of how it works (other than a few major security issues (er, deletion/acces

      • AOL's market share is dwindling. If it continues to do so, the value of dangling Netscape before mickeysoft will also decrease. There's a ways to go before that happens to any measurable degree but it is coming.
    • Stop spreading FUD. You are free to instantiate your own instance of IE's rendering engine (Trident) as a hosted COM control.

      AOL doesn't have to pay any fees.
  • Compatibility? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Justin205 ( 662116 )
    Will their VOIP work with anything else?

    Because if it's AOL-only, it's not going to catch on with most of the world (or even 72% of the USA)...
  • Anyone know if they've commented on this?
  • by Jesus IS the Devil ( 317662 ) on Monday February 07, 2005 @06:43PM (#11601614)
    Notice how there's an ad for Vonage right underneath the article? Priceless.
  • by GillBates0 ( 664202 ) on Monday February 07, 2005 @06:44PM (#11601626) Homepage Journal
    when they'll be done testing and start mailing out the new CDs?

    I'm building a roof for my cubicle.

  • by Alien Venom ( 634222 ) on Monday February 07, 2005 @06:44PM (#11601630) Homepage
    From: []

    Desktop Search: Now you can find files, photos, songs, pictures and other files on your computer's hard drive just as easily as you search the Web. And you don't even have to leave your Web browser to do it.

    Tabbed Browsing: Keep tabs on your Internet experience! The new AOL Browser uses convenient tabs to help organize all your open browser windows, so you can quickly switch back and forth among multiple Web sites, easily finding--and getting to--the one you want.

    Clear My Footprints: Whether you like it or not, your computer keeps track of everywhere you go online. But the new AOL Browser helps protect your privacy and stop snoops with just one click. Quickly and easily clear your Internet history, cookies, caches and more. You can even choose exactly which footprints you want to clear--making sure you erase what you want, when you want.

    Thumbnail Previews: Now you can save time by viewing actual mini-previews of Web pages, instead of trying to decipher misleading URLs. Simply hold the mouse over any item in your history or favorites, or over any open browser tabs, and you'll be able to see where you're going--before you even get there.
  • Image (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Leroy_Brown242 ( 683141 ) on Monday February 07, 2005 @06:44PM (#11601633) Homepage Journal
    I fear that the average user will think that the way AOL impliments VoIP and Desktop serching, is as good as it gets.

    I fear AOL won't do a great job (suprise!) and people will think "VoIP sucks! I tried it with AOL and it never worked right!"

    Then, they might shy away from other VoIP services that are great.
    • by SaDan ( 81097 ) on Monday February 07, 2005 @06:57PM (#11601740) Homepage
      I wonder how many people AOL will get to subscribe to VoIP services using their 56K dial-up connection?
    • I have never met anyone below the age of 30 that knows anything about computers at all that just assumes that AOL is as good as it gets. In fact, I don't even know anyone in the under 25 age group that would even find any appeal to an AOL browser. Firefox is already exploding in marketshare among the under 25 population if my college is any indication. Besides, AIM is already free and so you don't need to buy AOL's service to do all of the things that AOL is "good for."

      AOL really is only good for people wh
  • by popo ( 107611 ) on Monday February 07, 2005 @06:45PM (#11601638) Homepage

    Someone please remind me why AOL bought Netscape again?

    Does it strike anyone else as odd that AOL does almost everything they possibly can to *not* add market value to one of their best known brands?

    You'd think with the amount of cash AOL has on hand, and with the entire marketplace suddenly beginning to question whether or not IE is worth the trouble... they'd slap some of the dust of Netscape and breathe some life into it. No?

  • VoIP (Score:2, Funny)

    by turtled ( 845180 )
    In the middle of your call... "Goodbye"
  • by WindBourne ( 631190 ) on Monday February 07, 2005 @06:47PM (#11601651) Journal
    It is bad enough that somebody is watching your every keystroke. Now, AOL will allow anybody to listen on your conversation as well by integrating this with MSIE.
  • AOL too? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by kiwidefunkt ( 855968 )
    AOL is coming out with a standalone browser?

    This doesn't have anything to do with Google register, does it?

    What's next, a Microsoft browser? Jeez.
  • Standalone? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Living WTF ( 838448 ) on Monday February 07, 2005 @06:50PM (#11601681)
    How could it be standalone when it uses the (already installed, I guess) Internet Explorer rendering engine?
    • You're seeing from the viewpoint of someone with "half a brain or more". To their "less than half a brain" customer base, this is a standalone browser. They think that this will remove them from all that "bad internet explorer XP stuff that makes my computer go boo boo".

      If they really wanted to leverage something against microsoft, they should try and make some AOLinux beta and pass it around. I'm not saying actually release it, God knows they haven't got the balls for that, but it would scare Microsoft
  • I think that AOL will have to do something that hasn't been done before in order to gain back the web dominance they once had.

    Making a browser with zoom and tab features has been done before. VOIP is also available elswhere, while this might satisfy their current customers, I dont see them drawing in a significant amount of new users with it.
  • did any one notice how the screenshot's example page had articles up that were highly favorable to internet explorer and microsoft? some sort of subliminal attempts at converting over fools i suppose.
  • Not again I am tired of getting all those crappie cds from AOL. They are just costars! As for IE and AOL together just one question. What the heck? It's a nice idea to have a stand alone browser but AOL come on. They are venturing to the dark side.
    • I didn't mind so much. I got a either a cheap CD case out of the bargain, or a metal case that can hold 2 CDs. Either way, I win!
    • I have a theory. AOL has only made 1 AOL cd. But they cursed it, so that if you don't want to die in 7 days, you must make a copy of the CD and send it to someone else. But like most things, the curse failed and not one AOL user has died.
  • by mottie ( 807927 ) on Monday February 07, 2005 @06:58PM (#11601748)
    I haven't gotten any of those funky multicolored coasters in the mail for a while, I hope this means that AOL will start sending them out again!
    • Or how about a Frisbee. Or of course I use them for wall art.
    • Screw the coasters (Score:2, Interesting)

      by oddfox ( 685475 )

      I want AOL to start distributing their software/etc. in those AOL tins that they used to use, least 'round here. Very handy for keeping certain things in. :)

      Here's the tin [] if you don't know what it looks like. But I don't use it for a survival kit, or at least that's not what I would call it's primary function. Come to think of it, nuking some of those AOL CDs could prove fun on those rainy days.

  • shamless plug... (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    as a beta-tester for aol-voip: something aol has done well, there voip service ain't bad, ideally it should stand well to mass usage
  • Who paid? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Elektroschock ( 659467 ) on Monday February 07, 2005 @07:01PM (#11601776)
    As far as I know AOL owned Netscape and funded Mozilla development. Then MS paid them large amounts of money that they continue to support their IE Engine. It was a multimillion deal. A real payoff for open source investment that secures independence. As some economists told us monopolies are not that bad as long as there is the option of antoher player to enter the market and take it over. It is really funny to see MS paying for IE usage.
    • It is really funny to see MS paying for IE usage

      Even in decline, AOL has 26 million subscribers, almost all of which are running Windows, and will likely remain with Windows and IE, even if they migrate.

  • Why do you use tearoffs without an MDI? (yes, I'm too lazy to look at the screenshots to see if it uses an MDI.)
  • I found it interesting that on the screenshot, 3 or the 4 artilces shown were pro-MS.

    The first, "Gates Promises Interoperable Software" which shows how MS will start writing software that work on other OSes.

    The second, talks about how MS is starting a new offensive on piracy, pushing its Genuine Advantage program. If you have a valid MS License, you can get rebates and other perks.

    The third, "Spoofing flaw found in non-IE browsers" Pretty much speaks for itself.

    Interesting, no? We've always kn
  • by Evro ( 18923 ) * <> on Monday February 07, 2005 @07:22PM (#11601943) Homepage Journal
    I've had 3 screennames banned from AIM in the past 2 weeks due to using a non-AOL client (I've been using naim [], a command-line aim client). One of the banned screennames had been mine since 1997. The page they direct you to - - results in a 404 for me.

    Received: by with SMTP id h6mr97856wra;
    Mon, 07 Feb 2005 13:03:03 -0800 (PST)
    Return-Path: <>
    From: AOL Instant Messenger <>
    Sub ject: AIM Account suspended!
    Mime-Version: 1.0
    Date: Mon, 07 Feb 2005 13:03:03 -0800 (PST)

    AIM User

    We have detected that the AIM Screen Name sixtyfourcubits associated with
    this email address has been used in a way that violates the terms and
    conditions of the AOL Instant Messenger service. Because of these
    violations, AOL has suspended the use of this screen name. If you
    believe that this suspension has occurred in error, please fill out the
    form located at By providing accurate
    information, you will enable us to properly investigate the situation.

    The AOL Instant Messenger Team*

    * Please note this e-mail is not a commercial e-mail and is intended
    only to provide official notice about an AOL Instant Messenger account
    identified with this e-mail address.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      That's really scary, although I might point out that you don't know for sure that that's why they closed your account.

      My primary screen name was apparently banned once; I'd used it for many years and was quite fond of it. I didn't get an e-mail, but rather a message on login. Of the possible causes listed, it stated that using a screen name that was formerly part of an AOL account after said account was closed (which described my screen name) was a violation of the TOS.

      Thankfully, the account was working
    • by Derek Pomery ( 2028 ) on Monday February 07, 2005 @10:31PM (#11603177)
      I've had the same problem.
      Although I'm being generous and ascribing it to:
      12/10/2004 If you recently began receiving an error message indicating that your sign on has been blocked because your account has been suspended, please be patient as we restore the accounts over the next several days. We apologize for the inconvenience.

      In the bug list.
      I hope this is the case, since my login is just as old.
  • by bill_mcgonigle ( 4333 ) * on Monday February 07, 2005 @07:27PM (#11601991) Homepage Journal
    We've lacked tear-off tabs in all kinds of applications for a decade because USPTO gave Adobe a patent [] on it and they've gone after [] companies who infringe on it.
  • Uhh, Netscape is not based on Firefox. Back many ages ago, Netscape donated a bunch of code that became the Mozilla project, spawning many many projects, most notably Seamonkey, (original mozilla suite) Firefox, and Thunderbird. I think that Netscape may have started using a heavily branded version of Seamonkey a while ago, but I'm pretty sure that it wasn't Firefox. As we all know, Firefox has only gone 1.0 only a few months ago.
  • So, I don't know if it's just me, but this lock-in with IE just gets on my nerves. For years I have been getting phone calls from the parents asking for help because they got another freakin' virus, trojan, spyware etc. on their machine because of this freakin' browser. So, I got them to start using Mozilla, for what I thought was exclusively. Now, they use AOL all the time with that damned browser in it. Yes, they have XP SP2, an external firewall. But we all know that it means nothing when you invite
  • I Think AOL and M$ could make a very funny, yet very sad program... The active spread of virus via the phone.

    Just using a Windows box is bad enough as to how easily they get infected with spyware and the like.
  • Well, what can i say? it uses the IE engine (the one embedded on windows, of course, so it's not "standalone" as they claim it to be) so from a security point of view is useless, so i'm sorry tech support guys, you'll continue to get calls from people with spyware and viruses problems. On the other hand, this thing is really easy to use and it looks great on every aspect. I don't know if you have noticed that there's a plus sign on the top left-hand corner, which can be used to open a new tab.
    If you are lo
  • by vacuum_tuber ( 707626 ) * on Monday February 07, 2005 @10:58PM (#11603347) Journal

    And "In the face of increasing pressure from the likes of Google and MSN, America Online" has, just in the last couple of days, begun refusing email from mail servers that don't have matching reverse DNS entries, thus cutting off its subscribers from the growing number of small and medium businesses using fixed IP cable or DSL Internet service. It's nice to have matching reverse DNS and it's fastidious in an Internet purist sense, but it's in no way necessary. I host thirteen domains on fixed IP cable Internet and am instituting an SMTP block that will bounce email from the domain with a message advising senders that due to new AOL policies we cannot reply or send them email, so we recommend they drop AOL and get a real ISP. AOL is its own punishment and it's fitting that they are constricting the world in which their clueless subscribers can operate. AOL deserves to go bust and have its assets sold on eBay.

  • Where can I get one of tohse?
  • "includes some nifty features like tear-off tabs and zooming."

    it's like. er. something very cool/new ?
    opera has this for ages - isn't this a standard feature in browsers ?

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