AOL Prepares Standalone E-mail Client
America Online is developing a standalone e-mail application that can be accessed independently of its client software. AOL has designed the software to provide its members with more open e-mail access and a customized way to access their AOL e-mail on their PC.
The "AOL Mail Client" sports a new look and feel from the classic AOL e-mail component found in its client software with a three-paned tabbed interface, better handling of attachments and more management options to sort and group e-mail. AOL Mail is based on entirely new code; however, AOL's existing spam filters do carry over.
As the testing progresses additional features will be introduced including the possibility for third parties to develop plug-ins and screen reader software for the visually impaired.
AOL will also add anti-phishing technology similar to what is found in AOL Explorer, an Internet Explorer-based Web browser. AOL's protection against phishing schemes will be updated and expand upon in later builds.
AOL opened up e-mail access in late 2003 when it began allowing members to choose their own preferred e-mail client. Any client that supports SMTP for sending mail and IMAP4 for reading mail may be used to access AOL e-mail. Currently, AOL Mail Client limits access exclusively to AOL Mail and does not provide support for additional accounts outside its service.
Other initiatives to broaden e-mail access include a new Web-based AOL Mail that offers unlimited e-mail storage for subscribers.
AOL has made a preliminary Windows XP compatible mock up of AOL Mail available for download and is for members only.