RealTime IT News

AOL Puts Brakes on Unauthorized 6.0 Review

America Online Inc. has stopped the unauthorized review of its 6.0 software release from a pair of free speech Web sites.

Due to legal pressure from America Online (AOL), both Kenton Industries and Open AOL have halted the release of AOL 6.0 information and analysis on their Web sites.

According to Kenton.Org, America Online will begin to alpha test its 6.0 release in February. AOL employees can download the new software, code named "K2" in reference to the mountainous Himalayan peaks of Karakorum Pakistan.

Kenton.org received a three-page letter from AOL legal representatives demanding it take down the unreleased 6.0 materials, or face legal action. During the evening of Jan. 26, Kenton.org was victimized by a denial of service attack from an undisclosed company.

Kenton Industries founder, known only as "Kent" said he received a facsimile from AOL Jan. 27 demanding that he take down the 6.0 materials or face possible legal action.

The AOL statement warned, "prerelease of 6.0 materials that you have posted wholesale on your site are AOL's internal confidential property. These materials are not available to the public.

"You can only have obtained them from someone who breached their employment agreement with AOL or from someone, who illegally hacked into AOL's system," continued.

Both Kenton.org and OpenAOL promptly pulled the materials from Web distribution.

AOL legal counsel has declined to comment on the incident.

AOL employees will be able to download 6.0 on Feb. 1, while commercial testing begins in May. The product is scheduled for public release in August, just in time for another holiday sales surge.

The new service promises cosmetic adjustments to the toolbar, although preliminary tests indicate that consumers think the 6.0 toolbar is poorly organized, according to Kenton.org.

To support AOL's marketing strategy promoting its "PC Anywhere" access, its 6.0 software is reported to make it easier for newcomers to use AOL's instant messaging and e-mail services.

Industry analysts expect AOL's 6.0 software will change as the client is developed for its official release. While AOL played up the release of its 5.0 software three months ago, most users found little variation from its 4.0 release. The minor upgrade did not prohibit 8 millions users from downloading the new software.

AOL added features including photo station, an improved search function and broadband applications in its 5.0 release. While AOL promoted the software upgrade, some analysts said the changes were minor when compared to previous upgrades and the release was more or less a tactical marketing scheme to make the most of seasonal sales increases.