AOL OpenRide is Not For Geeks

Today, AOL launched its first major product upgrade since the company began to refashion itself as an advertising supported portal last summer. Historically, AOL has relied on consumer’s monthly subscription fees, in addition to ad revenue.

AOL’s new OpenRide combines access to email, instant messaging, Web browsing, search and an all-in-one digital entertainment media center in a single application interface.

The interface, called “Quad View,” features a “Dynasizer” navigation tool designed to let users resize the application’s various panes at any time.

Drag and drop functionality is a big part of Quad View. A user can, for example, send an email to a specific contact simply by dragging that contact’s name from the Buddy List feature into the email compose window.

AOL OpenRide also lets users access multiple email accounts, including any POP3 account, such as Google’s Gmail, Yahoo’s Mail Plus and AOL’s own email services.

OpenRide’s all-in-one media center is the product’s “crown jewel,” AOL Director of Communication Products Roy Ben-Yoseph told

In that media center pane, users will be able to do a number of things, from tinker with and view videos and photographs to listen to XM radio.

OpenRide is AOL for mainstream consumers in the new broadband world, AOL Executive Vice President of Products and Technology Joel Davidson told

And for mainstream consumers only, added JupiterKagan senior research analyst David Card.

Card told that OpenRide offers little of what early adopters love, such as blogging and feed aggregation.

It’s a point AOL’s Roy Ben-Yoseph conceded during a demonstration.

“It’s not for me,” Yoseph said. “It’s for my wife.”

“Well, it’s for me,” said AOL exec Davidson, jumping in quickly.

“Right,” the engineer Yoseph said. “I just meant I’m a geek.”

“Right,” Davidson said. “This is for the mainstream.”

The OpenRide software is available as a free download. It works with Microsoft Windows XP though not Macintosh OS X. AOL said the software is optimized for a computer screen resolution of 1024×768 or higher.

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