ICQ Launches New Beta Version

ICQ, a unit of America Online Inc. , launched its latest version, ICQ 2000a Beta 4.29, worldwide Thursday.

The new version features: enhanced navigation; new instant messaging and communications functionality; interface, menus and features available in 10 languages; and seamless access from the workplace through a new firewall friendly TCP connection.

The languages available include Japanese, German, Spanish, Chinese, French, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, Swedish and Hebrew. ICQ users simply need to download a separate piece of enabling software from partner Lingocom.

ICQ (“I seek you”) is the world’s largest online communications community and biggest international service, with more than 65 million registered users. ICQ says it has more than 100,000 new registrations every day.

“The worldwide enthusiasm for ICQ has been tremendous and continues to grow,” said Donn Davis, chief operating officer, AOL Interactive Properties. He added that the launch of version 2000a would strengthen ICQ’s position.

ICQ founders Sefi Vigiser, Arik Vardi and Yair Goldfinger said ICQ is the largest multilingual community on the Internet. About two-thirds of ICQ users are outside the United States, and two-thirds are also between the ages of 18 and 34.

“Our enhanced language capability makes ICQ the most widely available online communications network and now many more of our users will read and understand the many menus, features and titles ICQ offers,” they said.

While the product does offer several advances, it has also been criticized for being resource intensive.

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