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AOL's New Web Mail

Our neighbors over at AOL stopped by the other day to demonstrate the new look of its Web mail service, which recently went through a facelift. It's a nice look - but not terribly different from what Yahoo and Microsoft have done with their revamped versions of free Web mail.

With AOL, though, it wasn't so much about what they'd recently done but more about what's still to come. On the bottom half of the screen, there was the content - AOL headlines, pictures and more - while the lineup of new mail appeared on the top half. I expected a preview of the mail to replace the headlines when it was time to start clicking around the Inbox - but that didn't happen. What!? No preview pane? Not yet, I was told. But coming soon.

There were a number of other cool features, as well - such as the integration of AOL Pictures and AOL Calendar. Later this year, the company will add AIM into the program, something that Google has already done with Google Talk in Gmail and Yahoo has done with Messenger in the still-in-beta mail application.

What was cool was a right-side panel that featured a quick peek at the address book. AOL has opened its code to outside developers for that box and is encouraging outside developers to build add-ons for that space. Already, AOL is working on a tool for that spot that would incorporate images from Flickr.

Hey... Isn't that a Yahoo product? Yes, but that doesn't matter, AOL told me. By opening the code, AOL is allowing customers to access their favorite content without leaving the AOL page - which, of course, has AOL content and AOL advertisements. This all plays into the company's new strategy - the one that eliminated subscriptions and moved into an advertising model.

By Sam Diaz  |  June 11, 2007; 2:28 PM ET  | Category:  Sam Diaz
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Comments

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I hate the new aol mail. They waste real estate displaying things that I don't need displayed, and they have taken away the ability to close things you don't want to see (like the address book which I do not need open all the time). And every time I try to send an email (or print one, or do anything other than read a message), it crashes the browser. Of course they won't let me give them feedback on that bug, because users with a free email address are blocked from all "tech support" and they don't distinguish between people needing help and people who just want to give feedback.

Posted by: arlington | June 11, 2007 4:52 PM

@arlington

You can hide the address book, just click the on the arrow at the top of that panel. Likewise you can drag it around and make it any size you want.

Posted by: Medina | June 11, 2007 9:04 PM

Yes, you can close the address bar, but it's annoying to have to close it. I'd rather open it when I want to see it. I don't generally need to look at people's addresses to send them email. Does anyone know whether there's a setting that allows you to "opt out" of seeing the address bar?

Also, I REALLY don't like it that that half-screen covers up the list of email messages when I open my mailbox. Couldn't they put the advertising somewhere else?

Posted by: THS | June 12, 2007 3:05 AM

A new upgrade today, and now I can't even read my messages! Every time I try to read an email I get a popup about being able to read and write in one window, and then the browser crashes. Since they refuse to talk to me, can someone out there please tell them that they're upgrading themselves into oblivion?

Posted by: arlington | June 14, 2007 9:20 AM

The new AOL webmail is crap. The address book included the email address of every spam I'd ever gotten (including the ones that AOL had automatically filtered into the SPAM box. There is no way to NOT see the useless (to me) "Today on AIM" box when first starting up (or the address book, as previously noted). There is no way that I can find to sort the address book. When they first upgraded, it insisted on playing that annoying "You've got mail" all the time, even when the window was restored from the task bar. AOL would do well to run several usability studies, although why would they start caring about usability now?

Posted by: Web 1.0 fan | June 14, 2007 10:01 AM

Upfront Disclaimer: I'm with the AOL Mail Team in CA and I'd like to provide some information that may be of help.

The issue about addresses getting auto-added into the Contacts list has been addressed (sorry for the pun, :-) ).

The Contacts Panel will remain closed if that's what a user desires. That change is coming later this month.

We are actively looking into what might have caused some browsers to hang yesterday, but we haven't been able to duplicate it internally. We're investigating it with specific users but at this time, we believe there may be some unique system configuration that's involved.

The new AIM chat feature is coming very soon and there is a screen shot of what it'll look like. It'll be first available as an opt-in beta version, so that users can switch back and forth between it and the production version, on-the-fly.

If anyone wants to try the new free AOL Web Suite (web mail and more), it's at: http://webmail.aol.com

And the Unlimited Storage for AIM Mail users will be here at the same time (soon).

I hope this helps some of you. Thanks for allowing me to clarify these things here.

Tae
websuiteblog at aol dot com

Posted by: Tae | June 15, 2007 2:18 PM

I have had serious issues with the new AOL. Like another poster on here, every time I do ANYTHING other than read and email my browswer/system crashes and it takes me a long time to end the program. I am likely going to move everything to a YAHOO address. The sad thing is that I have had my AOL email ever since I've had email (10 years) and everyone knows where to find me. But like the other folks, I can't reach AOL to give feedback..which is unaceptable. They need my eyeballs to monetize their new advertising revenue model but they don't want my feedback and are just DRIVING me into the hands of Yahoo or Gmail.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 17, 2007 10:07 PM

To the person who is on the AOL email team...We are happy to give you feedback so that you can figure out how to repeat the problem but trying to talk to someone at AOL is impossible. Please provide us an email where we can share the feedback.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 17, 2007 10:10 PM

To Tae, on the aol web team, are you able to give us specific instructions on how to OPEN our individual emails instead of staring at a gray page that says you have 108 new messages? And will you give us specific directions on how to write (that's right, can't even write, forget about sending) individual emails instead of staring at a blank white page? Isn't it possible that one person on the aol web team could stay up all night, get a little overtime, and just fix it?? This is more than stressful to many customers who have been with aol for a decade. Quite seriously, it impacts not just business health but personal health. Shame on aol for not providing a temporary FREE TECH HELP as an apology for these intolerable glitches. But, really, Tae, who on your team cares?

Posted by: kj | June 19, 2007 1:40 AM

I hate the new aol mail.

1. it locks up my computer all the time..

2. when i send an email to someone... it shows my message mixed with all different kinds of letters .. like this Hey how (BR) are you? AAAA ??

What is up with all the AAAAA's and BR's being added to my messages?? sometimes they are so bad.. no one can read them..

3. whenever I copy and paste something in email.. I get an error message when I go to send it..

4. and I have problems forwarding messages..

It really stinks!

Posted by: jodi | June 21, 2007 11:44 PM

Please, can someone tell me how to get the old system back? Crash, Crash, Crash!!!

Posted by: Chuck | June 24, 2007 10:48 AM

I may just get rid of AOL services for the 2 time. I am blocked from them,so there is no way,i can forward something from this Mailer Damon. I received one in my box this morning,and it is a strange email address. I have all my families and friends addresses. I do not know why they can;t be delivered? friends and families would tell me,if they changed addresses. Who in the heck is Mailer Damon?

Posted by: Debby | June 24, 2007 12:52 PM

Hi,

Product feedback of the new AOL Web Suite is welcome at:
http://journals.aol.com/websuiteblog/productinsider/

And for people who are having technical issues, there's also a free tech support message board at:
http://messageboards.aol.com/aol/en_us/articles.php?boardId=569193&func=3&channel=People

I hope this helps a bit.

Tae

Posted by: Tae | June 25, 2007 7:11 PM

I want to be a person on aol how? get back to me now

Posted by: JoJo | July 7, 2007 10:52 PM

I have had 2 new HP Vista Home Premium PCs since Jan 30th. The tech was here for over 20 hours over a 3 day period trying to get AOL9.0VR to work with it the first one. No dice!! It ain't gonna happen. Got the 2nd pc straight from HP, same thing on the 9.0VR. I was FORCED to go to aol webmail (puke) but still pay 14.95 a month,just to have that tech help from mostly INDIA!!! yuk. Plus 44.95 a month for cable hook up to internet.. Quite expensive, huh? I go to save a gif, and what happens? the ONLY choice I have is BITMAP!! NO! The down arrow does not give any choice but bitmap.. AOL is one hell of a mess. It used to be a great thing but not anymore..I am shopping around trying new emails too.. Oh, I CAN get onto 9.0VR but after a click or 2, out it goes, freezes right up , every time. try again, happens again.. And AOL don't care. Every time I call the techs and get someone I can barely understand, the first thing they want to know is IF I AM A PAYING CUSTOMER.. UP YOURS AOL!!!yES, I AM A PAYING CUSTOMER BUT i DON'T KNOW FOR HOW MUCH LONGER.. Personally I think AOL is on the way down the toilet!!!

Posted by: Carole | July 9, 2007 1:22 AM

I have had 2 new HP Vista Home Premium PCs since Jan 30th. The tech was here for over 20 hours over a 3 day period trying to get AOL9.0VR to work with it the first one. No dice!! It ain't gonna happen. Got the 2nd pc straight from HP, same thing on the 9.0VR. I was FORCED to go to aol webmail (puke) but still pay 14.95 a month,just to have that tech help from mostly INDIA!!! yuk. Plus 44.95 a month for cable hook up to internet.. Quite expensive, huh? I go to save a gif, and what happens? the ONLY choice I have is BITMAP!! NO! The down arrow does not give any choice but bitmap.. AOL is one hell of a mess. It used to be a great thing but not anymore..I am shopping around trying new emails too.. Oh, I CAN get onto 9.0VR but after a click or 2, out it goes, freezes right up , every time. try again, happens again.. And AOL don't care. Every time I call the techs and get someone I can barely understand, the first thing they want to know is IF I AM A PAYING CUSTOMER.. UP YOURS AOL!!!yES, I AM A PAYING CUSTOMER BUT i DON'T KNOW FOR HOW MUCH LONGER.. Personally I think AOL is on the way down the toilet!!!

Posted by: Carole | July 9, 2007 1:22 AM

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