RealTime IT News

AOL Updates Instant Messenger

America Online Inc. Tuesday launched version 3.0 of its popular Instant Messenger communications tool, on the heels of the recent launch of a messaging tool by Microsoft.

Available via free download, features added to version 3.0 include: a customized news and stock ticker, as well as buddy list icons and an auto-reconnect if the connection is briefly lost. AOL boasts more than 45 million users of its instant messaging service.

AOL has been a public quarrel with Microsoft since July, when Microsoft launched its own messaging client, MSN Messenger.

"AIM 3.0's next-generation communications tools will greatly enhance the instant messaging experience for our registered users," said Bob Pittman, AOL's president and chief operating officer. "And, in the coming months, we will be rolling out new features to ensure that AIM continues to be the most valuable instant messaging product in cyberspace."

Coinciding with Tuesday's rollout, AOL formed agreements with Apple Computer Inc. and Novell Inc., as well as Internet service providers EarthLink Network Inc., MindSpring Enterprises Inc. and Juno to offer their customers co-branded Instant Messenger services and links. Financial terms were not disclosed. Other partners include CompuServe, Netscape, IBM's Lotus Notes and Sametime, and RealNetworks.

Instant messaging has developed into a popular communications tool, and companies wanting to take advantage of the application have asked AOL to make it an open standard technology. On Tuesday the company reiterated its committment to forming industry standards with the Internet Engineering Task Force.