RealTime IT News

AOL 5.0 May Be Harmful to Net Connections

Internet users who downloaded and installed the latest version of America Online's client software, AOL 5.0, have found that they've gained some spiffy new features. But in the process some have found they've also lost their ability to connect to the Internet.

A message board at the online service devoted to AOL 5.0 upgrade questions was full of reports Wednesday from users who've run into problems accessing Web sites or other network content since installing the new version of the software, which was officially released Tuesday.

The bug appears particularly to affect AOL users who also have dial-up accounts with other Internet service providers, or who connect to AOL from a LAN or corporate network.

AOL (AOL) offers subscribers a "Bring Your Own Access" pricing plan with reduced rates if users connect over an existing TCP/IP account with another ISP. According to Usenet newsgroup postings, also affected were non-AOL subscribers who had downloaded and installed a demo version of AOL 5.0 and lost their access to their ISP as a result.

The culprit appears to be the AOL TCP/IP adapter installed by AOL 5.0. In some instances, it may establish itself as the default network adapter and disable any DNS settings required to connect to an ISP.

America Online representatives were not immediately available for comment. According to some message board posters, one work around is to uninstall AOL 5.0 and manually re-enter IP address information in the Windows Network configuration menu.

The company previously said a beta version of the upgrade has already been installed by 750,000 members. AOL 5.0 offers a number of new features, including longer screen names, a new photo and calendar service, and better support for broadband access and non-PC devices.