America Online has released a preview of AOL Communicator, the ISP’s
latest e-mail client with new features designed to appeal to “power” users,
or the more advanced users of the service.
The preview version is available for download only to AOL subscribers.
New features include an advanced instant messaging client with special
symbols that let users know when they have new e-mail, integrated views of
multiple accounts and different e-mail screen names, and even more
aggressive anti-spam filters.
“It lets you check e-mail from IM, and is designed for people who are
using e-mail who may not have their (e-mail window) open,” said Catherine
Corre, spokesperson for AOL. Symbols in the IM buddy lists let the users
know they have e-mail, for example.
The unit of AOL Time Warner
is also affiliated with Netscape, the company’s browser division which first unveiled integrated e-mail features with its Netscape Communicator browser in the late 1990s.
Other new features include integrated address book and updates that add
new names on the fly from incoming emails, advanced anti-spam options and
e-mail foldering options that give users more flexibility with messages
stored remotely on AOL’s servers as well as messages they download locally.
The preview version of Communicator lets users manage e-mail from
mailboxes other than AOL on IMAP (Internet Message Access Protocol) or with
standard POP (post office protocol). IMAP’s
let users search e-mails on a mail server and choose which ones they want
to download locally. The latest version of POP
without the simple mail transfer protocol (SMTP), which allows users to
e-mails between different e-mail servers.
“Storage of mail messages in folders under your POP & IMAP accounts can
either be stored locally on your hard drive or remotely at your email
provider’s site,” AOL said, depending on the user’s configuration.
“It’s targeting people who want more advanced features,” said Corre.
AOL said the ability to migrate e-mail from Microsoft’s Outlook or Outlook
Express programs is not available in the preview but is planned for the
final release of AOL Communicator.
The preview release is available to AOL members at no charge. The
company is expected to release the final version sometime this year with AOL 9.0.