The Bottom Line
- AOL Instant Messenger supports secure, encrypted messaging
- Offers video and voice chat in addition to exchanging text messages
- Includes personalization features and various alerts and tickers
- AOL Instant Messenger lacks a message history, doesn't support offline messages
- AIM uses a proprietary protocol, can't talk with users of other networks except ICQ
- The AOL Instant Messenger interface is a mess
- AOL Instant Messenger lets you exchange text, voice and video messages with buddies (on AIM or ICQ).
- You can also start group chats in AIM, play games together and send or share files.
- AOL Instant Messenger supports secure, public key-encrypted communication.
- AIM Expressions and buddy icons let you customize AIM, adding graphical smileys to messages is easy.
- AOL offers a warning system that lets you warn others about certain users and see other's ratings.
- AOL Instant Messenger also includes a black/white list system of people allowed to contact you.
- AIM integrates with AOL webmail and offers stock as well as news tickers, AOL alerts.
- You can send messages to mobile phones and forward incoming messages to your mobile phone.
- Add-ins let you further expand AOL Instant Messenger's capabilities.
- AOL Instant Messenger supports Windows 98/ME/NT/2000/3/XP.
Guide Review - AOL Instant Messenger 5.9
Over time, AIM has accumulated a number of features and gimmicks. Not all of them are essential for an instant messaging client, and the news ticker in particular looks a bit anachronistic.
Other features are wonderful to see implemented. There's secure, encrypted messaging, for example. Or the option to automatically run incoming files through a virus checker. Or Talk and Video, which make it easy to exchange voice messages or chat via live video. The way AIM lets you sign in with different buddy names simultaneously sharing one window is really useful.
Unfortunately, there's still some functionality I miss in AOL Instant Messenger. It would be nice if messages could be sent to offline buddies, for example, and an automatic, fast and searchable message history is essential.
While AOL Instant Messenger comes with a basic black and white list of allowed contacts and includes a warning system, it lacks more advanced filtering, and the per-buddy settings are limited.
You can set your own icon, though, and customize AIM with "Expressions" (window backgrounds). You can also send greetings via instant messages easily with AOL Instant Messenger, indulge in group chats or play a number of games. What you cannot do, of course, is send anything to people not on the AIM or ICQ networks.