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AOL Launches Free Webmail Service 207

kmilani2134 writes "America Online is moving into the Web-based e-mail market on Wednesday by tying e-mail into its popular AOL Instant Messenger service. Called AIM Mail, the service marks AOL's latest attempt to reposition itself as a broad portal rather than a subscriber-based service. It also will compete more directly against Yahoo Inc, Microsoft Corp.'s MSN division and Google Inc., all of which have battled over Webmail storage and features over the past year. This was covered by both eWeek and Of note, they seem to have incorporated the Mailblocks spam filtering and tracker addresses into their service. It will be interesting to see how long before these new 2 GB accounts are inundated with spam."
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AOL Launches Free Webmail Service

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  • Open Mind (Score:5, Funny)

    by Blakey Rat ( 99501 ) on Saturday May 14, 2005 @03:30PM (#12530821)
    It will be interesting to see how long before these new 2 GB accounts are inundated with spam.

    It's good to see you're approaching this with an open mind. Criminy.
    • Re:Open Mind (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Much better than approaching this with an open mail relay!
    • Re:Open Mind (Score:5, Informative)

      by juberti ( 128850 ) on Saturday May 14, 2005 @04:24PM (#12531134)
      Seriously. I mean, at least try the product first.

      The AOL spam filters have gotten quite good over the past couple years, better than Yahoo/Hotmail and way better than that of your typical cable operator. The web interface is really nice (Mailblocks). There's free IMAP access. And if you use AIM, there's good integration between AIM and AIM Mail. Clearly I'm biased, but I think it's a great product.

      If you have an AIM account, you can try it out at [] . If not, you can create an AIM account at itRegistration.psp [].

      Some more info at my blog: []
      • Hmm.. what are the IMAP settings? I can't seem to find them on the site, and the help system's search function isn't working...
      • Are you sure about that? The help says that you can't use a regular email client, such as outlook. It's web-only.

        If there is IMAP access, what are the server names?
        • by juberti ( 128850 )
          I think the open IMAP access is not be switched on yet. But as far as I know, that is the plan... from the eWeek article:
          "AOL already is planning additional features for the full launch of AIM Mail. The service will support the IMAP (Internet Message Access Protocol) standard so that users can access their AIM Mail accounts from other e-mail clients, Ben-Yoseph said."

          I will update my blog when I have more info.
      • Re:Open Mind (Score:2, Interesting)

        by qnetter ( 312322 )
        Will AIM Mail be subjected to the same arbitrary, unexplained and untested filtering that AOL mail currently is?

        As administrator for a mailing list service that has had cooperative whitelisted status with AOL for the better part of a decade, I must report that recent changes to AOL mail have made it impossible for us to offer consistent delivery to AOL customers -- even despite our whitelisted status.

        AOL will now block mail due to "malformed URLs" and "URLS with complaints" -- but they won't explain which
      • I like AIM, it's a nice well-mannered lightweight little app, that has never once misbehaved for me. (Admittedly I'm using an ancient version, but it still works fine, which makes me happy.) As with other standalone utils, whatever one's opinion of AOL the company, the tools made by AOL's engineers are often very useful. (Notably the modem test utils!) And I remember when one particular security hole fixed at the server, so all users were protected whether they updated the client or not; this struck me as a
      • HELL NO!

        Aol blocks so much mail that they end up blocking lots of legitimate emails. And the worst part is they don't even inform the blocked host why. It's a POS service.
    • Well, once you get latched onto, spam can fill even some of the largest mailboxes. One of my Yahoo addresses gets approximately 300-400 spams per DAY.
    • It's just email. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by TheSpoom ( 715771 ) *
      Shhh... I realized something that few people seem to have got so far.


      I store my email on my laptop thank you very much, and I have storage limited only by my free HDD space (of which, I might add, it hasn't approached yet, because I'm sane and use email like normal people do, to send messages and small attachments).

      Not that I'm saying that lots of storage is a bad thing or anything, I'm all for it. But I imagine that this is more marketing hype than anything -- I'd estimate 97% of people
  • AOL? (Score:3, Funny)

    by mboverload ( 657893 ) on Saturday May 14, 2005 @03:31PM (#12530826) Journal
    I don't know about you, but anyone that gives me an AOL address is immediatly put below me in my mind.
    • The real question is: Does the CEO of AOL use an AOL address and if so, how big is his car in order to compensate for this?
    • Guess you don't use AIM or GAIM then?
      • At least at my university, AIM is the way chatting is done. I've never even been given an MSN/Yahoo handle by an acquaintance.
    • >aol<Me too!>/aol<

      Seriously though, I have less respect for people with AOL addresses, especially adults (other students with AOL usually are forced to use it because it's what their parents use, but adults have free will to choose a better ISP), and almost no respect for businesses that have AOL addresses. Getting a better ISP usually costs less than AOL does, and for businesses, getting a domain name with email usually costs less than a dial up account per month.

      • other students with AOL usually are forced to use it because it's what their parents use, but adults have free will to choose a better ISP

        Believe it or not, ISPs aren't the only way to get an email address. Fancy that.
      • That was supposed to be <aol>... argh.

        I found it much funnier the wrong way. An AOL user wouldn't know the right way to do HTML tags anyway!
    • and it has gotten the step motherly treatment since then. Before Goldman expired, Mailblocks was updated regularly every 4-5 months.

      AIM mail is based on mailblocks. Around the beginning of 2004, Mailblocks was gaining a lot of customers. Once AOL acquired it, mailblocks went into a time wrap. Even now the mail quota is a paltry 15MB. I sent 2-3 mails to mailblocks support asking whether they plan to allow mail quotas higher than 100MB. They gave no definite answer.

      So I abandoned mailblocks, moved all my m
      • Curious... why doesn't Gmail/pop3 cut it? If you just leave messages on server, then you basically have a backup of all the mail you've gotten, handilly Google searchable.

        Although I suppose this could start being a pain if you check mail from multiple computers.
        • POP3 with leaving mail on the server is a barely usable kludge. It sucks especially when you have to check from all sorts of places. IMAP is so much more flexible - you can use it LIKE a local client, but you're not forced to. You can also use it remotely, through a web mail gateway (squirrelmail is excellent if you host your own), you can use a terminal client (ie mutt), you can use a nice client like the mac Everything you do across any client is reflected on all the other clients. Gmail has
      • AIM mail may provide a lot of space but it is not compelling compared to gmail.

        I strongly suspect that it will be compelling for all those AIM users. How many non-techies know what POP and IMAP are? In my experience, all they care about is being able to check their email, and webmail access usually does that for them just fine.

        I think this was a very smart move by AOL. Although, I do think they're idiots for not doing this long ago. Not that I've been following it closely, but it seems AOL has been lacki
    • Re:AOL? (Score:3, Insightful)

      If you judge people by the domain of their email address, then I think you have some personal issues you need to deal with.

      • Being able to sort people by the domain of their email is very handy. Like looking for businesses to do work for me. If they have an AOL address I skip right over them. If they are that inept I don't want them with my money.
  • by TildeMan ( 472701 )
    It has been a long time since I used AOL. I seem to recall they had problems such as employees stealing entire databases of info and selling it to spammers. How are their spam filters now, and how likely are you to receive spam just for being a member?

    It's also a bit amusing that all these large portal companies like AOL are trying to compete with services like Gmail that don't even provide anything other than email. Google is still not an ISP as far as I know...
    • They had _one_ employee who did this, who they found and helped prosecute. They've got thousands of employees. It happens.

      And while Google's not an ISP, if you think the only personal information about you that could be stolen from Google is your email, you're ... deluded.
  • by SteelV ( 839704 ) on Saturday May 14, 2005 @03:33PM (#12530843)
    If you can get that email for free, why the need to pay $10-$20 per month? I wonder if many subscribers will leave (not sure if it lets them cancel an account, then make an aim with the same name) or, at the very least, will they not gain many new ones?
  • by dubiousmike ( 558126 ) on Saturday May 14, 2005 @03:35PM (#12530850) Homepage Journal
    can a subscriber cancel their account and keep the email address as a free one? Likely not as the email address is what is keeping 75% of all subscribers. Why else would you pay for dialup when you can spend $10 more and get broadband???
    • by Anonymous Coward
      I thought so too until I realized it's not all that difficult to move your email address. Then I met a guy who pays for a cable connection and pays AOL on top of that for their UI and extras. I've begged him to stop but he feels comfortable in that little AOL frame. I've even showed him how easy it is to just open a damn browser and go wherever you want but he won't budge.
    • can a subscriber cancel their account and keep the email address as a free one?

      Unfortunately, you can't do that. I know this from experience. I was subscribed (via my parents) to AOL, which I used mostly for AIM access. Then we got broadband and got it from another company. We switched to AOL's "Bring Your Own Access" plan for a few months and then eventually canceled.
      It was then that I noticed that I could not log on to my screen name anymore. It had been Suspended. What a great surprise to wake up t

  • Couldn't you already get e-mail at your AOL screen name
    • by Anonymous Coward
      What, and type five more characters? Not me. Never. No Way. Uh-uh.
    • [goes off, performs tests] I've never set up netscape mail, but I have two AIM and AIMmail accounts. So! Let's see if it works.

      Mail sent to (and .com) bounced.

      I then went to and discovered that it thinks I *do* have an account there, using this very screen name (and it even knows my home email address, which it likely got from AIM). I logged in and found no messages.

      I sent the netscape account another message; it bounced again. I then sent my ELN account a mess
  • more of the same (Score:3, Insightful)

    by cryptoz ( 878581 ) <> on Saturday May 14, 2005 @03:37PM (#12530864) Homepage Journal
    The idea of a capitalist world is that there are to be numerous products in the same category that compete and try to be the best. That way, the consumer is provided with a choice of what they wish to have, and often they end up with a better product as a result of the competition.

    The problem is, all these new web mail services are offering basically the same thing for the same price (that is, no money, but people pay through the price of ads and such.)

    As one can see, I use a gmail account, because it offers the keyboard shortcuts. In all honesty, that's all that's kept me there because it's the only unique feature. I don't mean to be bashing the new services; it just seems as though there's nothing new in each one that pops up, except for the name.
  • What's more, an "unsend" feature lets users cancel a message after it's been sent to another AOL or AIM Mail user -- if the message is unread.

    Not bad, though hardly innovative - you can already do something close to that with Exchange and other mail systems. What I'd really like is the ability, within a certain time interval, to yank an IM off someone's window if I suddenly changed my mind about wanting them to see it. Anyone that's accidentally sent an IM to the wrong person knows what I'm talking abou
  • So now it's America Online Instant Messenger Mail? What's next? AM $FOO?
  • AIM really hasnt improved for a few versions now. All they keep doing is adding more junk like weatherbug, a popupblocker, aim today crap, spyware scanner. It's a freaking IM program, leave it at that.

    I don't like using gaim in windows because it still doesn't work all the time with file transfers and image transfers. Once gaim improves a little more I may just switch over to gaim in windows.
    • I know most people out there don't use Mac, but I tell ya, Adium [] is the best chat software I've ever used. Better than Gaim (no disrespect), better than trillian, and even better than the other Mac multi-service chat clients. It's got web-based CSS compliant visual themes that you can customize, animated icons, custom soundsets, etc. etc.. Gaim definitely comes in second though, and is clearly the best for linux. I love that app. But really, I'd use anything except the standard chat clients of ANY of t
  • by Guspaz ( 556486 ) on Saturday May 14, 2005 @03:39PM (#12530871)
    Google bumped GMail up to 2GB when other companies started offering 1GB. What do you want to bet that Google will now bump it up to 3GB?
    • It just continually increases your storage size now - there's a counter on the login page (it's at about 2.2gb).
    • by Bagels ( 676159 ) on Saturday May 14, 2005 @03:45PM (#12530918)
      Nope. Google's got theirs set to slowly increase with time - it's currently closing in on 2.2GB. Every day or so they add a few more MB (about 150 since April 1, I believe)... so Google's probably not worried about AOL overtaking them in some silly storage space war. Not much of it is getting used, anyhow - I've still only filled mine with about 14MB of stuff, it's growing far faster than I can fill it.
      • they've already been taking over by [] their the first to offer unlimited email space, but the killer is, unlimited online file storage as well. it is free, and there are some ads (as with all the others) but they are not intrusive and certianly I can put up with them for unlimited space. Shinyfeet Storage Usage: 0.0000000012% of Unlimited Disk space used: 12.2GB
    • Gmail is already above 2GB now - they're steadily increasing the space as time goes on, to allow for natural growth of people's e-mail archives (you can see the ticker steadily moving upwards on the Gmail login page)
  • by iosmart ( 624285 ) on Saturday May 14, 2005 @03:41PM (#12530886)
    Correct me if I'm wrong, but I hear GMail uses something where if two users have the same message, it'll only save one copy of it on the servers. If AOL is using this kind of system, it won't hurt them at all to sell the email addresses of people...because their servers will only keep one copy of the message! :)
    • If AOL is using this kind of system, it won't hurt them at all to sell the email addresses of people...because their servers will only keep one copy of the message!

      Plus, think of all the storage space they would save by only keeping one copy of the:
      LOL!!!! Me too!!!!! OMG ROTFL!!!!!!

  • by Saeed al-Sahaf ( 665390 ) on Saturday May 14, 2005 @03:44PM (#12530906) Homepage
    Are there even any reasonable email names left Will all the new free accounts use random strings for the UID?
  • Free? (Score:2, Informative)

    by rathehun ( 818491 )
    Is there a link to the page where you sign up for free account? I can't seem to find it.

    Or is this another case of great editing?


  • But free web-based email services were cool about, oh, about seven years ago.
  • With the ridiculous way Aol is blocking mail from third parties, one would need to be a moron to want to sign up for an Aol email address.

    Besides, do you really want to be associated with Ao-NOOB-l?
  • by bananahead ( 829691 ) * on Saturday May 14, 2005 @04:03PM (#12531015) Journal
    Maybe it is just me, but it seems like we might be hitting the limits of free email. Exactly how many free email systems does the world need anyways? I have a Hotmail account which I don't use anymore. The 2Gb of storage is slowly filling up with crap. I log in occasionally to find out if there might be anything useful, there rarely is. I have a Google email account which I use for internet transactions. I forward that email to my Exchange account, which is then forwarded to my Blackberry. Exchange has dramatically improved their junk filtering, so very little gets to my Blackberry that I don't actually want there.

    I suppose the ability to get a really cool email name creates demand for a new system. Is there really any other reason?

    • I agree, or rather that Gmail lack nothing the others have yet. Maybe it's as you say, that we're reaching the limits, but that's what I could've said before Gmail came too. For most purposes free unlimited mail space was earlier unthinkable for me. And that was just one of powerful features they offered. Maybe someone will revolutionize the webmail again? But as it is now, webmail innovation seem to be dead once again. Just random companies trying to ride the Gigabyte wave, and "do it like Gmail", but less
      • I would like to see one of them (Google, AOL) go after a more complete solution. Exchange and Outlook are the enterprise winner because they have incorporated email with calandering and support scheduling between exchange users. I want Google and AOL (although I have very little faith in AOL's abilities) to go after the ubiquitous email/desktop organization markets. Email alone is not enough.
        • Yes, that's another good idea on how they could take things further. Having no special software requirements to check your calendar and more would be great, and possibly expanding a "Gmail Notifier" kind of program to alert on scheduled events. There are already online web-based collaboration systems [], but it seems they're commonly not free. But it doesn't seem too far fetched Google could with their market share and AdWords value sustain a free service though.

          I think we might see more of these web-based on
  • by spideyct ( 250045 ) on Saturday May 14, 2005 @04:07PM (#12531033)
    What is interesting is that you already have an account if you have an AIM Screen Name. I went to the website, logged in with my AIM credentials, and it brought me right into the inbox. No accepting any terms & conditions, etc. It never even told me what my email address is (though I assume it is
    • Your AIM e-mail address is
    • The first time I went there, it was clever enough to query my system and pick up the screen name I'd last used with AIM. (That evidently was the req to 127.nnnnn)

      I then went back with AIM set to my other screen name, but it didn't pick up on that. Oh well, it's not like typing my login (or letting Moz do it for me) is all that onerous.

      Anyway... while not as feature-rich as GMail, it's somewhat easier to use.

      It did recognise both my AIM IDs when I logged in and out with AIM itself (AIM mail can check onli
  • Yoda says (Score:4, Funny)

    by Che Guevarra ( 85906 ) on Saturday May 14, 2005 @04:18PM (#12531103)
    lost they are. Attempting to regain market share they are. Hmmm, desperate they are.
  • Anyone with an AIM accounts could already log into for web based email. how is this any different?
    • See my post above where I just tested both, about 5 minutes ago. While they're largely identical, the AIM mail worked perfectly on the first try, while the NS mail took a couple thumpings and bounces before it decided to work.

  • Anyone know the IMAP settings?
  • by Omkar ( 618823 ) on Saturday May 14, 2005 @06:11PM (#12531782) Homepage Journal
    Google: Let's start our own free email service to compete with Yahoo and MSN. We'll give people 2GB of storage to get their attention, and hopefully, we'll become a larger part of their internet experience. Oh, and being Google, let's make our system work far, far, better than most college email systems.

    AOL: ME TOO!!!11!!1!
  • I'll certainly be getting one of their accounts, in addition to my Hotmail, Yahoo and Gmail accounts. So far, I have a Yahoo account forwarding to my Gmail account so that I get the combined effectiveness of both the Yahoo and Gmail spamfilters. There can be no harm in trying a new service and having so many email accounts like this, because they are all free services so you have no initial outlay on them!
  • Now anyone can be an internet (l)user without paying a dime to AOL!
  • I've got about six hundred gmail accounts to give away if anyone is even considering using this service.

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